How to choose the best negatives to print
This relates to 35mm, MF and LF, although those using LF of course have a distinct advantage.
I was wondering if you have any specific techniques you use to find the best negatives for printing. (without scanning negs)
What is it in a negative that you look for to make it worth printing?
Please share the specifics and any tips.
Which Loupe do you recommend using?
Thank you again for your valuable input everyone.
Kind regards, Nicole
I don't thikn this will be very much help, as it is very "un-scientific" - but I wonder how many out there share my approach:
I look at the negs in terms of pictures - do I like it? Is it a good, or special image - composition wise, what it show, etc.
Then I try to print it come hell or high water until I either get a desired result, or of course as is sometimes the case, fail miserably trying.
I don't own a loupe, nor a scanner... mainly because I know that for me, they would be a waste of money since I am silly enough to try anyway...
All the best,
I gave up using contact sheets and loupes a while back now .... I now scan all my negs at the highest res I can, then look at them carefully to choose which ones I want to take into the darkroom. I play a bit in photoshop to test out some burning/dodging plans and toning, then do it anolgue-style - probably not in the spirit of APUG, but that is what I do
Nicole-proof your negatives-all your negatives on the paper you are going to be printing on. Make sure you have some sort of marking system so you can differentiate them. For a loupe I use a 50mm lens from a 35mm camera/works just fine. If you have several exposures of the same photo there is usually one that will stand out above the rest. Sometimes you need to just sit back and wait/relook at the proofs to decide which negative you want to use. If I'm a little unsure I'll take 2 into the darkroom and work with the first one that I think will go. Take the time to study the proof sheet. If you are doing it right it will tell you all you need to know. IMPORTANT-I now proof with a number one filter. It lets you see further into the negative and will render more information. I used to do it all with a number two paper before the availability of VC papers. Try it and you will understand what I'm saying.(credit to Bruce Barnbaum for this)It will immediately let you see at what contrast to print;i.e. saving time and paper!!
A proper proof is the key!!
Leon I have been doing the same as you, but the scanning and hours on the pc are driving me nuts!!! I was hoping there'd be a just as effective but quicker way of chosing negs to print by hand in the wet darkroom.
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that is a great tip, the pone with the 50 mm lens - will try it myslelf later!
Can't contribute much to this thread, but I am glad that Nicole brought it up, it helps me, too!
Greetings to all!
Peter, that's a great tip! Thanks and thanks to Bruce Barnbaum.
I suppose it is enticing to use PS to see how much detail is in a negative. But often my pro photolab I use just can't produce the detail I can get on the computer through scanning. But that's a whole new thread! Don't go there! I wish I had my own wet darkroom.
Originally Posted by Nicole Boenig-McGrade
That's an interesting question that for me begins, as others have said, with making a decent contact sheet. I don't have any graphics facilities on my eight year old 486 computer beyond a simple scanner and some crude (but pleasingly simple) Agfa software, so the dreaded "d" word doesn't come into the equation.
The main point for me, though, is that what makes a neg worth printing varies according to what the finished product is going to be used for and that it's sometimes too easy to rely on "old faithfulls" rather than experiment with previously unprinted material. Time is also a useful leveller, and coming back to a contact sheet after a couple of weeks can help to sort the wheat from the chaff.
I always print a set of contacts at grade 2. The Paterson contact frame makes life a little easier there than faffing about with sheets of glass. This has two advantages: I can see what the negative looks like as an image (I still can't "see" a negative in reversed tones like some can) and also tells me if I made a mistake with exposure and/or development by always printing at the min-time-for-max-black for that paper/film combination (idea courtesy of the late Barry Thornton's writings).
If I see something that looks promising I'll put the neg on the lightbox and check for shadow and highlight detail. I use a 6x Silvestri loupe for this. Ah, I should point out that this is mainly MF and occasional LF: I rarely use 35mm these days for anything "serious".... Once I have determined that it will print OK, I make a work print with or without basic dodge & burn and leave it overnight or longer. Although this delay is a good thing to do, I must confess the delay in my case usually has more of a practical cause due to time constraints than being a carefully considered tactic to distance myself from my initial decision. Very often, I end up putting the print away for a later date as whatever feelings I had for it the day before evaporate...