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  1. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by polyglot View Post
    Frank: thanks for the tip, I'll have to try it with D-76 next time. When pulled with Rodinal, what times were you using? With D-76, what sort of difference do you see between using 1+1 and 1+3?
    With Rodinal, I used about 10% off the recommended time and I still wasn't happy. With D-76, I never tried 1+1 with PanF+, so I can't say for sure. But boy oh boy, at 1+3, the negatives are beautiful. I get nice clean whites in the print and good shadow separation on the equivalent of grade 2 paper. Someone is bound to say oh, the grain is going to be more noticeable and you'll get edge effect. Bulls**t! If you examine a photograph with a microscope, yeah, you may see it. It doesn't show in the finished print.
    Frank Schifano

  2. #12
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    Could the difference arise as a result of either the difference in the cameras and lenses used, or differences in the enlarging process?

    Could the Mamiya's lenses be higher in contrast or exhibit less flair?

    In reference to enlarging, I mean changes in the lens used, the condensors (if any), etc.

    Just some thoughts.

    Matt

  3. #13
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    thanks for all the answers everyone... it's the same paper (Ilford MGIV RC Pearl) but from different batches and the problematical prints are on far newer paper. However, the 120 negs I'm printing have a lot more contrast in them, simply due to the lighting situation. The 35mm ones that worked so well were printed at Grade 2 whereas the problem ones are on Grade 0.5 to get the highlights and shadows to not be clipped.

    psvensson: that's exactly how I would describe my problem, not that I can find any references to discontinuous tone while googling. I will certainly try printing my neg harder with some heavy dodging.

    WolfTales: welcome indeed ... it's all an adventure, though I do want to get one of these printed at high quality for a competition in 2 weeks. wrt your last paragraph though... surely using a lower contrast filter (lower grade) will compress the tones, i.e. put a wider range of tones-on-film into a given range of tones-on-paper? And higher contrast filters expand the dynamic range: narrow range of tones-on-film into a wide range of tones-on-paper. So my problem is that to get my highlights and shadows without clipping one or both, I used a very low grade, but in doing so I compressed what would have been detail into basically one tone.

    Is it perhaps to do with the two contrast curves that VC paper has? Is it possible that at an extreme grade like I'm using with lots of Y filtration (nearly no blue gets through) that the high-contrast layer is both in reciprocity failure and suffering from a threshold-of-exposure effect? If so, it could be that the high contrast layer goes from completely transparent (below threshold) to quite dense (coming out of reciprocity failure and crossing its threshold) quite rapidly and only does so in the shadows of the print where it suddenly gets enough exposure. That would maybe explain why the print transitions from black to a not-particularly-dark grey.

    Edit: Frank: OK, I'm definitely trying the D-76 1+3 next.

    MattKing: I reckon I'm probably using higher-contrast lenses on the 35mm shots (top-line Minolta primes) than the Mamiya lens I was using. The 50/4.5 that I have (not the ULD version) is actually pretty disappointing wrt flare, contrast and very soft corners. Same enlarger & contrast filter pack, condensor adjusted for format size, EL-Nikkor 50/2.8 with horribly soft corners vs an old Zebra Rodagon 105/5.6 but neither of those should be producing any flare or contrast loss.
    Last edited by polyglot; 07-21-2009 at 11:03 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  4. #14
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    I had another thought and think I've figured it out. Due to the extreme grade, I am exposing the low-contrast layer so much that it is reaching its own D-Max and all my Zone-III shadow detail disappears into a muddy gray that is a fully-exposed low-contrast layer with no exposure at all on the high-contrast layer due to thresholding. Finally with a little more exposure, the high-contrast layer breaks its threshold in the shadows and a few details pop up to black.

    Any thoughts?

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by polyglot View Post
    thanks for all the answers everyone... it's the same paper (Ilford MGIV RC Pearl) but from different batches and the problematical prints are on far newer paper. However, the 120 negs I'm printing have a lot more contrast in them, simply due to the lighting situation. The 35mm ones that worked so well were printed at Grade 2 whereas the problem ones are on Grade 0.5 to get the highlights and shadows to not be clipped.

    psvensson: that's exactly how I would describe my problem, not that I can find any references to discontinuous tone while googling. I will certainly try printing my neg harder with some heavy dodging.

    WolfTales: welcome indeed ... it's all an adventure, though I do want to get one of these printed at high quality for a competition in 2 weeks. wrt your last paragraph though... surely using a lower contrast filter (lower grade) will compress the tones, i.e. put a wider range of tones-on-film into a given range of tones-on-paper? And higher contrast filters expand the dynamic range: narrow range of tones-on-film into a wide range of tones-on-paper. So my problem is that to get my highlights and shadows without clipping one or both, I used a very low grade, but in doing so I compressed what would have been detail into basically one tone.

    Is it perhaps to do with the two contrast curves that VC paper has? Is it possible that at an extreme grade like I'm using with lots of Y filtration (nearly no blue gets through) that the high-contrast layer is both in reciprocity failure and suffering from a threshold-of-exposure effect? If so, it could be that the high contrast layer goes from completely transparent (below threshold) to quite dense (coming out of reciprocity failure and crossing its threshold) quite rapidly and only does so in the shadows of the print where it suddenly gets enough exposure. That would maybe explain why the print transitions from black to a not-particularly-dark grey.

    Edit: Frank: OK, I'm definitely trying the D-76 1+3 next.

    MattKing: I reckon I'm probably using higher-contrast lenses on the 35mm shots (top-line Minolta primes) than the Mamiya lens I was using. The 50/4.5 that I have (not the ULD version) is actually pretty disappointing wrt flare, contrast and very soft corners. Same enlarger & contrast filter pack, condensor adjusted for format size, EL-Nikkor 50/2.8 with horribly soft corners vs an old Zebra Rodagon 105/5.6 but neither of those should be producing any flare or contrast loss.
    You may need a contrast mask, I've never tried producing one, but essentially you need to print a weak positive on film, then sandwich the two in the enlarger so that the positive counteracts some of the contrast. This may still compress some of the tones though.
    Paul Schmidt
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  6. #16
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by polyglot View Post
    think I've figured it out ... the low-contrast layer ... is reaching its own D-Max and ...
    Yes, you have pretty much got it. The high contrast and low contrast emulsions of variable contrast paper each have 1/2 of density required to reach d-max (although MGIV actually has 3 emulsions). At very low contrast filtration the 3 "S" shaped HD curves pull apart so that the overall contrast is very low. As the 3 curves pull apart the overall HD curve develops a hill-and-dale shape with flat spots in between.

    MGIV Warm Tone is probably the worst offender, see its HD curve for low contrast grades. At 00 the curve has a huge flat spot in the deep shadows. But even the 0.5 contrast curve has a segment between a print density of 1.5 and 2.0 where it's contrast falls to half of its nominal value.

    You can see that the paper really has three sets of curves: 00 - 1 1/2 where the contrast change is due to a drastic cut in shadow contrast; 2 - 3 1/2 where the contrast grades are well spaced and the overall shape of the HD curve sharpens with increasing contrast; and grades 4 - 5 where the contrast change is mainly in the highlights.

    All VC papers exhibit the same characteristics to one degree or another. For low contrast without the roller-coaster curve you are better off with a #2 graded paper and Selectol Soft or DeBeers developer.

    Compounding the problem in this instance is the use of Rodinal as a film developer. Although the developer has a cult following for its particular 'look', it is not a good developer by generally accepted standards. Apart from the grain issue, Rodinal has very low shadow contrast - about 1/2 the contrast it has for highlights - and is not suited for situations where you want a good deal of shadow detail.

    This example also points out the fallacy of trying to determine paper grade by finding a paper that will fit a negative's highlight-shadow density span. You want to select the paper grade based on the important tones in the image - in this case the highlights in the water and the wet rock. You would be much better off using a #2 or higher contrast grade and dodging the shadows as needed. To pick up extra contrast in the water you may want to print the image down a bit to grey highlights (that have decent contrast because they are off the toe of the paper curve) and then use a light overall ferricyanide bleach to recover the sparkle.

    As a point of self-promotion, the Darkroom Automation system and enlarging meter will help a lot when printing scenes like this as you can find the correct contrast filter and exposure for the highlight to midtone range and also the filtration and exposure for the midtone-black image you desire. The meter will also quickly and very accurately determine any dodge and burn exposures.

    With difficult to print negatives it is not uncommon to use a mask that allows you to print the shadows apart from the rest of the image. Such a mask is easy to make: make a smaller size print; mount it to thin cardboard and cut out the regions; place a sheet of glass at the right height above the paper so the mask, when placed on the glass, will block the appropriate regions; make two exposures, with different filtration and exposure through each mask set - one for the highlights/midtones and another for the midtones/shadows.
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  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by polyglot View Post
    ...However, the 120 negs I'm printing have a lot more contrast in them, simply due to the lighting situation. The 35mm ones that worked so well were printed at Grade 2 whereas the problem ones are on Grade 0.5 to get the highlights and shadows to not be clipped...
    Hello polyglot,

    since your negative has so much contrast, why not give split grade printing a try? I too had some negatives that refused to print nicely with a single grade (delta 100 + rodinal) and finaly got some nice prints using grades 0 and 5 (for the same print). I doesn't mean that dodging/burning won't be needed, but it can certainly help.

  8. #18
    polyglot's Avatar
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    Nicholas: fantastic answer, thankyou.

    Anon: indeed and that is the next thing that I will be trying (been doing a lot of googling today, discovered that "split grade" is the name for what I was pondering anyway). I'm just worried though that the dynamic range of the neg exceeds the dynamic range of the low-contrast layer so that even at Grade 00, the low-contrast layer may block up before I get highlight detail. If that occurs I can still get a better-looking print than I do now because I can bring detail into the blacks with the high-contrast layer, but the dynamic range available for those details will be reduced.

    I'll post again once I've tried a 00/5 split-grade print. I've seen some ppl say that split-grade printing is no better in its final output than just choosing the correct grade, it's just that you're exposing the two layers independently instead of concurrently, and the way you generate 2 test strips (one for highlights then one for shadows) gives you a good way to pick the effective grade rather than running strips on each grade one at a time. However if there's reciprocity failure or severe threshold effects in the paper, then I can see that doing the split-grade print will give a better result because the high-grade layer is exposed more rapidly.

    Will also give burning a go. Contrast mask - maybe, but I don't have a dark-enough room to do printing to film

  9. #19

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    Your are printing on grade 1/2. Therefore, your neg has two grades too much contrast for what you want. Therefore if you had given two more stops of exposure, and taken 30 or 40% off of your development time, you would get the same basic contrast on a grade 2-1/2, and have more detail and separation in the shadows.

    The weirdness in the shadows is caused by lightening the tone of the shadows via printing when there is little detail there on the neg. As such, you get large blocks of tone without detail; Quite a cartoonish look in the dark areas, for good or bad. Kind of looks like ink paintings in a way (e.g. http://wip.vancereeser.com/images/Ink-painting1.jpg). Not only this, but IMO reducing contrast via filtration can lead to some strange tonal relationships; way weirder than increasing it via filtration.

    So, the culprit is a far-less-than-ideal level of contrast on the negative, followed by a bailout in printing.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 07-22-2009 at 07:22 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

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  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by polyglot View Post
    I'll post again once I've tried a 00/5 split-grade print.
    When you do this, don't try and get the whole image to print well.

    Concentrate on the waterfall and get it the way you like it and let the rest of the print go where it may.

    Then make another print where you concentrate only on the shadows and get them the way you want them.

    You then need to dodge/burn the shadows in both the 00 and 5 exposures to transform the waterfall exposure into the shadow exposure.

    Say your waterfall exposure is #00 10 seconds, #5 7 seconds; and the shadow exposure is #00 3 seconds, #5 12 seconds.

    Using the waterfall exposure as your base, you would then dodge the shadows for 7 seconds in the #00 exposure and burn them for 5 seconds in the #5 exposure.
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