Negative grades with colour heads?
So I thought I'd try Split-grade printing, and I specifically chose my first trial to try and 'rescue' an extremely high-contrast negative.
It was one I shot on Rollei ATP1.1 before I developed at home, I just gave it to the lab who probably didn't appreciate that it was a "special" film that needed "special" processing. (well, fair enough, I didn't either at the time).
Anyway, so I tried the Les McLean method, at f/8 with a 75mm Fujinar high enough to enlarge 35mm to 8x10:
- did a test-strip at #0 at 2s intervals, got nothing to speak of in the highlights.
- another one at 5s intervals, started getting something at 30s
- did a straight test-strip at 35s, decent highlights but fairly black blacks already.
- did 30s at #0, then tried 1s intervals at #5. Pretty much anything above 2s was blacked out.
- took a gamble, did a test 3x5 at 25s #0 and 1s #5, didn't turn out too bad.
Then I did a full 8x10 with these numbers and it's not too bad, there's a cloud at the top that's totally white and a tree on the edge that's totally black, but there's still not as much detail in either highlights/shadows as I'd like (and I specifically wanted to try to get something better than what I could get with scanning, it's not much worse than the scan but it's not any better).
So, the question is, can I do any better? For now I don't think it's even worth split-grading, just a #0 will deliver more than enough contrast.
But can I get "less" than grade 0 using the colour head? Colours go up to 170, is there a CMY->grade conversion table? If I combine colour head *and* the ilford filter, will I get any better (ie less grade) than #0?
fwiw, here's the negative scan, it's the absolute best I can do with my v750 and Silverfast, completely reduced contrast, killed highlights and boosted shadows just enough before it started looking goopy.
The split-grade wet-print looks near enough to the same (just not as much detail in the cloud or the tree), but I'd like to get better if possible...
An awful lot of electrons were terribly inconvenienced in the making of this post.
The tables in the link below may help with some starting points. If you want to start with minimum contrast use max yellow, no magenta. Or use an Ilford #00 filter.
Note however the "split grade" approach is just a specific case of the general technique of using multiple filters. It does not bypass the potential need for local controls such as burning and dodging in the print. And when you use a short scale, high contrast film like ATP you will likely need some burning and dodging to help bring out whatever detail there is in the negative. Start at the lowest contrast and go from there.
time to flash... and no not in public!
I've used pre-bleaching (SLIMT) to get into negative grades.. to make prints that were too contrast/large range to print with Grade 0 (and by a very long margin).
Straight print with SLIMT that fits in the range, makes it look flat.. because well you're fitting in a massive range.. split-grade print with SLIMT however was damn good, at punching up contrast while fitting in the range.
What Nige said. Flashing is the easiest first step.
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Personally, if my lowest contrast filter was still too contrasty and dodging and burning were not doing the trick, I'd try a soft-working developer as a first step, like Selectol Soft or Ansco 120.
Then I'd try water-bath developing in conjunction with the slow-working developer (15 seconds in the developer with agitation, 1 minute in a tray of plain water without agitation = 1 cycle; 2-3 cycles is pretty low contrast).
Then flashing, then SLIMT.
Flashing can help a lot, but reduces highlight contrast/tonal separation, which may or may not be alright with the subject being printed. It's straightforward and easy though and often very gratifying.
The SLIMT technique can be rewarding too, and will retain the highlight separation, but requires some calibration and/or takes a bit of paper to get nailed down.
Set up for printing this afternoon, didn't do very well, banged my head on the enlarger, dropped things, forgot to focus, miscounted and so on.
Had a cup of tea, decided to try a different negative ... remembered this thread, thought, I'll try that ... but I couldn't believe that it would work, I was convinced I would end up with a sheet of grossly overexposed paper with only the highlights showing through the murk.
I actually started laughing incredulously as I switched the light on to look at the first test print, it was so "perfect" (by my normal standards) in tone & scale.
In fact, I couldn't believe it so much I made another immediately to check that it hadn't been some miraculous mistake. And it wasn't.
SO ... more split grade printing for me, please