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  1. #21
    Marco B's Avatar
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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.
    This definitely looks like a paper issue, combined with maybe a bit unfavourable development.

    But you might be better of trying a split grade at grade 1 and 4, since it is clear that at least one of the layers in your VC paper is not responding well to grades below 1. Some papers simply do not support the entire modern filter range from 00-5, and you may actually end up with a worse result than you already have.

    Other papers may be more suitable. I have just yesterday printed a number of negatives on grade 0 and 0.5. Paper was Kentmere Fineprint VC. None of the issues you describe, and good tonal range both in highlights, midtones and shadows.

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  2. #22

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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.
    I'm working on Ilford MGIV RC too. I think it's fine paper. Cheap and easy and quick to use. Especially when you need to make a lot of mistakes while learning contrast control.

    Quote Originally Posted by polyglot View Post
    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.
    Lower contrast filters are essentially more clear then high contrast filters. They allow more light from the negative to pass through.

    So if your negative is already blocking out tons of light, you wouldn't want to block out any more of the little light that is left in the shadow details.

    I have also found the two contrast layers seem to work a little more independantly then I would like on a high contrast print. Almost as though wrestling with two problems instead of one. I have found it easier to have a grey negative and gently separate the blacks and whites out in a print, especially on llford Multigrade RC.

    I would also recommend selenium toning. This lets you print a little flatter then necessary, and the selenium pumps up the blacks and whites and really helps seperate and image and then re-tie it back together again. Selenium can give you a little breathing room. So the contrast in the final print itself doesn't have to be absolutly perfect as some more post chemical work is possible.
    Last edited by WolfTales; 07-22-2009 at 09:59 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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  3. #23
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marco B View Post
    printed a number of negatives on grade 0 and 0.5 ... None of the issues you describe
    It is hard to draw any conclusions here, though, as the print is the combination of negative and paper. If the paper characteristics suit the negative then all goes well - but it says nothing about the paper all alone by itself.
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  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by polyglot View Post
    Nicholas: fantastic answer, thankyou.

    Contrast mask - maybe, but I don't have a dark-enough room to do printing to film
    Dear polyglot,

    Make the room dark enough. A contrast mask is what you want. Even then, you will still probably have to dodge.

    Neal Wydra

  5. #25
    Marco B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas Lindan View Post
    It is hard to draw any conclusions here, though, as the print is the combination of negative and paper. If the paper characteristics suit the negative then all goes well - but it says nothing about the paper all alone by itself.
    Yeh, you are probably right, and I must admit my negatives were deliberately over-exposed and under developed to curb contrast. Still, with fresh developer, they slightly unexpectedly still needed a grade 0.5 and even 0 to print... but the resulting prints were good on Fineprint VC.

    I also noticed Polyglot seems to be using a color enlarging head. Are some color heads maybe less good or suited for printing at extreme grades than ordinary condensor heads with filters???
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  6. #26
    polyglot's Avatar
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    Marco: actually I'm using a B&W head (LPL 7700) with Ilford MGIV 3x3" filter sheets stuck in above the condensor. It's what's provided in a club darkroom but I'm thinking about buying my own soon - there's a C 7700 (colour head, otherwise similar) listed locally for less than the lens in it is worth so I might grab that and give it a go too.

    WolfTales: I thought low contrast filters were more yellow, thereby blocking out more blue light and thereby holding back exposure of the higher-contrast layer of the paper. Conversely, high contrast filters are magenta to block out the green light and reduce exposure of the low-contrast layer. I believe you can get approximately the same effect as #5 by using a blue filter and a #00 or similar by using a green filter. As I understand it (tell me if I'm wrong) the total density of each filter is adjusted so that with a reduction in exposure of one layer there will be an increase in exposure of the other layer and the midtones will remain at about the same density for a given exposure.

    as such... if I'm doing a split-grade print, surely it doesn't matter that I use the two most extreme grades? The point is to manually expose the two layers separately is it not? If the low-contrast layer blocks up with an exposure that would give me highlight detail, then getting a perfect print will require either a yet-lower contrast layer, or some masking or dodging.

    One more thing: there is plenty of shadow detail in the negs. They're quite thick. Contrasty with very dense highlights and no blocked/transparent shadows... it's just in the printing where I'm losing detail.

  7. #27
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    polyglot, I've done some thinking.

    While your choice of film stays the same, the camera and the lens is different, and possibly the metering.

    The MF kit you have might have different contrast characteristics than your 35mm setup. Since the film and the paper and the chemistry is constant for you, you probably will want to look at the part of your process that changed.

    Since you say you get excellent results with 35mm Pan-F+, there is no reason 120 Pan-F+ should give you equally good results, if all other things were equal.

    I am assuming that you used fresh Pan-F+ in both cases, processed the film in a similar manner in the same chemistry, and that you printed with the same paper, process, and chemistry in your comparison.

    How to get around that problem is a different story. But it makes sense to address the things in your process that actually did change before you start changing chemistry and paper, which would probably make it even more confusing.
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  8. #28

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    A filter is just a filter ie... it just blocks light.

    Aye - the paper has two layers of silver, each with a filter on top - to make it more sensitive to a particular color. So yes the summation of this subtractive process is what is confusing.

    Try it to find out. Make a few test prints throughout the contrast ranges to see what the effect is on the multigrader paper. So you can try making a good test print at 00, then one at 0, then one at 1, one at 2, one at 3, one at 4, and one a 5. Take notes on each setting so you can replicate it later.

    Before each test print, make a good test strip so you know what exposure will give you black blacks and white whites for those test prints.

    Then let them dry and inspect them and see where good details are showing up in what contrast setting, make a note of how that's affecting your tonal compression regarding that pesky contrasy negative . This will give you an idea of how the multigrade paper is reacting to different contrast settings with the contrasts in the negative. Then you can deduce how the light is flowing from the lamp, gets blocked by the area in the negative, gets blocked by the filter, and then gets burned into the paper with the proper time. And then you can think of places to burn or dodge more or less with more time or less time. And then you can think of places to develop more or less with more time in the chemicals or less time in the chemicals. Rate which test print is most pleasing to you and then try to figure out why.

    I usually just pick a contrast level I can sort of work with, and then fine tune additional contrast adjustments by adding more or less chemical developement and more or less selenium toning. It'll also give you an idea if split contrast printing is needed.
    Last edited by WolfTales; 07-22-2009 at 12:04 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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  9. #29
    Andrew Moxom's Avatar
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    For your prints to look similar tonality wise, you need to make quite sure your 35 and MF systems are bang on exposure wise. You need to be talking apples to apples here. If your 35mm negs and prints are okay, and the 120 ones are not, then that tells me the same film is not being exposed and developed the same between systems. Have you made sure your 35mm camera meter and shutter matches what you do with MF and vice versa? If not then the negs WILL be different if you develop them the way you do normally.

    As for the printing, it sounds like you MF system is overexpsoing the negs slightly and building more contrast (something is easily done with Pan-f) You may need to back off on your development as a result to get your print grades in the same range as what you get with 35mm.

    That said, the split grade approach should save these negs and make them printable, but I am not convinced that split grade printing always needs Grade 00. Often times I split grade print using G1.5 or G2 and then punch in the blacks with G5. If you use 00, often times the prints can still look muddy in the highlights. YMMV vary of course, but you need to resolve the camera differences first to get negs of the same density.
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  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Moxom View Post
    ...That said, the split grade approach should save these negs and make them printable, but I am not convinced that split grade printing always needs Grade 00. Often times I split grade print using G1.5 or G2 and then punch in the blacks with G5. If you use 00, often times the prints can still look muddy in the highlights. YMMV vary of course, but you need to resolve the camera differences first to get negs of the same density.
    I don't have that much experience, but I do think that grade 00 is an overkill. I have done some limited tests with the same negative (the annoying kind with too much contrast) and I have to say that G1 or higher might be a good idea in some cases. Using 00 or 0 might add too much gray, making the print too flat.

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