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Thread: Printing snow

  1. #11
    Jim Noel's Avatar
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    If you did not expose correctly for the snow, you have made the printing extremely difficult.
    The typical problem is that the photographer makes a reading of the scene and takes the picture. The problem is that the snow is now on Zone V when it should be somewhere between VII and IX depending on the light.
    A properly exposed and developed negative makes high key images such as snow easy to print. Incorrectly exposed and/or developed negatives cause great difficulties printing.
    Selenium toning the negative will raise the highlights up some, but not enough if the snow is now on Zone V or VI. Sepia toning will raise the highlights about twice as much as will selenium possibly getting getting it up into the range of Zone VII-VIII.
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  2. #12
    Jim Noel's Avatar
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    Pre-flashing will tone down the highlights, that is its purpose, and produce gray snow.
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  3. #13
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    The image looks reasonable if the provided negative image is inverted in PS.

    I would avoid VC paper like the plague. It has very poor highlight contrast and the highlight contrast doesn't improve until you get to grade 4.5 where all three of the paper's emulsion curves begin to stack up in the toe region. Split grade printing will not help matters one whit.

    If graded paper doesn't give satisfaction then I would try a combination of pre-flashing and Farmer's reducer (AKA Ferricyanide bleaching). You are going to have to experiment quite a bit. A deft eye and hand will be needed to judge the reduction and you may want to work with smaller test prints until you get the technique right or your wastebasket will overflow. You should only reduce/bleach enough to restore the sparkle in the snow - no more.
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  4. #14

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    What Jim said about getting a good neg is very true. Think of the saying, "You are what you eat".

    In addition, using outdated Kodak paper isn't helping either.

    Printing snow can be tough, but it is doable.

  5. #15
    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    Sorry, I should of clarified what I did. I took a spot reading of some of the brightest snow (but not the absolute brightest) to give me a V reading. I then added 4 stops for to raise the reading to IX and minused a stop for the yellow filter, so the majority of the snow should be VIII. The scan of the negative was meant to show how much detail is in the negative, and is considerably denser than the scan shows (so toning the negative would be counter-productive I think). I totally forgot about bleaching the print, I will have to give that a shot.

    Thanks everyone, love this forum.
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

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  6. #16

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    It is not true that RC papers as a class, or VC papers as a class, necessarily have low highlight contrast, or that RC papers necessarily have lower highlight contrast than FB papers. It depends entirely on the particular curve shapes of the specific brands/types. The old Agfa MCP and Kodak Polycontrast III RC papers had relatively short toes, as did the original Ilford MG FB. In fact, MCP, an RC paper, had a distinctly shorter toe, and correspondingly steeper highlight contrast, than its FB counterpart, MCC. I printed on some of my remaining stock of MCC and MCP just this past weekend, which was a useful reminder.

    Of course, you can control highlight contrast by your choice of film as well. But for this negative you've already made, you might try Ilford MG RC Cooltone or, if you prefer FB, Ilford MG FB Warmtone. At least when developed in the standard Ilford paper developers - Multigrade or PQ Universal - these tend to preserve contrast in the highlights a bit better than their neutral counterparts. (Not MG RC Warmtone, though - that paper has a distinctly long toe.)
    Last edited by Oren Grad; 04-07-2009 at 10:58 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  7. #17
    Ole
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    The best "snow-printing-paper" I have found was a pack of long expired Ilfospeed G3. It was just almost fogged, which gave lots of shades from very light grey to paper white, yet still had high contrast from midtones to black.

    So pre-flashing might actually be the best way to achieve this - unless you have a pack of similarly outdated paper.
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  8. #18
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    Yep, again, just try preflashing. Amazingly simple way to shift blocks of tones on the curve. Just be sure that you don't overdo it or you'll get posterized grey. After getting your highlight range where you want it, a treatment in selenium might firm up your blacks and give you a bit more separation in the shadows.

    Just to try all that was advised, and enjoy!
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