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  1. #1
    brian steinberger's Avatar
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    Step Wedge for Toning Experimentation?

    I finally got around to making some test wedges on Ilford warmtone RC paper so I can do some toning experiments. I had a stouffer TP 4x5 21-step tablet that I've had for a while now. I put it in the enlarger to expose it onto a 5x7 piece of paper at around 4x6. After a few tests to get the contrast right, I ended up dialing in grade 00 and the step wedge was still too dense to produce full range of tones.

    So what I did was take just one side (the thinner side) of the step wedge and increased contrast to make an 11 step wedge with tones from black to white. I could also rotate the paper after each exposure and get two wedges on one piece of 5x7 paper.

    There has to be an easier way to do this. I would like to produce wedges similar to Tim Rudman's in his toning book. I saw stouffer has a nice step wedge that is 1/2" x5" but I would want to enlarge the wedge to make the step wedges bigger on paper.

    How has anyone else done this? My way is not bad, I guess, but I would like more steps. See mine here.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Step Wedge WT.jpg  

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by brian steinberger View Post
    How has anyone else done this? My way is not bad,
    I guess, but I would like more steps.
    Your and my method are very similar. From a 6x6 21
    step wedge I project upon a 5x7 sheet. I may rotate
    thereby checking for two exposure times. The 6x6
    is divided into two bars, each 11 steps. What
    could be easier? Dan

  3. #3
    ann
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    i have a whole series of these sitting around in the lab someplace.

    i made 8x10 sheets, exposured as i would any 4x5 negative. Very easy
    http://www.aclancyphotography.com

  4. #4
    Dan Henderson's Avatar
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    I made some of these awhile back, using the wedge that is only about 1" wide by 6" or so long. Rather than enlarge the wedge I just contact printed it, and could get 8 or so wedges out of 1 sheet of paper. That seemed much simpler, and showed me what various papers, toners, and developers could do.


    web site: Dan Henderson, Photographer.com

    blog: https://danhendersonphotographer.wordpress.com/

    I am not anti-digital. I am pro-film.

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    When I use the step wedges I usually project them onto the paper because it more closely resembles "real world" conditions. To test paper from scratch I start with a mid grade contrast, usually 2.5) and get an exposure that gives me the available tonal range somewhere in the middle - i.e. showing a few max black and paper base white steps at each end. Once I've got that I then test the other grades using exactly the same exposure. This way I can determine the contrast range for each filtration, (count the steps) and the relative speed of the paper compared to the middle grade, (count the step difference for the first, off-white step.) To test toners, I still use the same exposure, tone the wedge and then compare it to the untoned step wedges in the same way.

    I'm just setting my darkroom up again and I intend to select a "standard" paper from which I'll to the step wedges. Then as I try new papers I'll do the same thing but keep notes as to the contrast and speed variance from my standard. This way, if I have a successful print on one paper and want to try another, or try toning, then I only have to adjust for the speed and contrast differences noted to reprint it without test strips etc.

    It's quite quick once you nail the initial mid-grade exposure. You can print for each grade, one after the other and process them in two batches, or all together if you want. For toning assessment, I'll print two wedges of each grade - one for straight, one for toning.

    Just make sure you keep clear notes on the back of each step wedge. It only needs to be paper and grade - but without it you have a bin full of beautifully exposed, (and totally useless,) step wedges. Any guesses how I know this

    Bob H
    "Why is there always a better way?"

  6. #6
    brian steinberger's Avatar
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    Thanks guys for the responses. I guess I just don't understand why a step wedge (TP 4x5) would be so dense that it couldn't fit onto the range of photographic paper even at it's lowest grade. I guess it's just to represent all possible densities that are possible on film for other densitometry purposes.

    I do like Dan's idea of the 1x6" step wedge and then contact printing them. Where did you find a wedge that size Dan? If nothing else I'll keep doing what I'm doing.

  7. #7
    Martin Aislabie's Avatar
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    I went a slightly different way

    I dispensed with my Step Wedge and just exposed a sheet of paper with increasing amounts of exposure.

    No negative in the Neg carrier, I took a sheet of 10x8 and started with a small enough exposure not to generate any tone, then in classic test strip manner I progressively increased the exposure to move from pure paper white to full back in 23 steps.

    I know its 23 steps, as I used an RH StopClock in test strip mode and it will only do 23 steps (don't know why)

    Once I had processed the sheet of 10x8, I cut into 1 inch strips.

    One strip was left untoned; the others were toned for a range of times in the same bath of toner (15s, 30s, 1m, 2m, 4m, 8m & 16m)

    When washed and dried, I was then quickly able to assess the effects of time on the toning effects against each other and the unprocessed strip

    I was also able to compare different sheets of paper - although the stripes didn’t line up exactly, the starting tones would match and I just had to count the steps.

    Generating the test sheets was slow but the comparison process was remarkably easy.

    Martin

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by brian steinberger View Post
    Thanks guys for the responses. I guess I just don't understand why a step wedge (TP 4x5) would be so dense that it couldn't fit onto the range of photographic paper even at it's lowest grade. I guess it's just to represent all possible densities that are possible on film for other densitometry purposes.
    The 21 steps is 10 1/2 stops - more than the range of any current paper and I would think it's by design. So no you won't get a differentiation with all the strips. But the step wedge will cover the range of any paper you use.

    The reason I project the step wedge is because that's what I'll do when I'm actually printing. This way flare and anything to do with with the lens is taken into account. I'm not honestly sure how much of a difference it makes - but that's my story and I'm sticking to it

    Bob H
    "Why is there always a better way?"

  9. #9
    brian steinberger's Avatar
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    Good idea Martin. I don't have an f-stop timer, but it would still be easy to get get even half stops or whatever increment you wanted. This might be worth looking into for me.

    Bob, I'm sure you're right as regards to enlarging the step wedge as opposed to contact printing it. So are there any step wedges available that are made for enlarging and offer an f-stop range that will fit photographic paper from one end to the other?

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by brian steinberger View Post
    Bob, I'm sure you're right as regards to enlarging the step
    wedge as opposed to contact printing it. So are there any
    step wedges available that are made for enlarging and
    offer an f-stop range that will fit photographic paper
    from one end to the other?
    Well you might take a pair of scissors to your 21 step step
    wedge. If 21 steps are discernable on the paper the paper
    grade is 000000 +/- a grade or two. Grade 00 will display
    some where around 12 to 14 steps.

    At least steps 1 and 2 must be the same black. Expose
    the paper accordingly. If steps 1 and 2 are the same black
    and step 3 a mite lighter count that 2 to 3 edge as the first
    edge. Count all edges. Edge count minus 1 equals the step
    count. Grade 00 should count as mentioned.

    Edge counting is David Vestal's recommended method
    for grade determination. That is if a reflection
    densitometer is not at hand. Dan

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