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  1. #71
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    I am not overstating the benifits of Pyro, my history in film and printing proves to me that there is great benifit for the proper situation.
    Maybe you haven't seen the difference , not sure how much work you have done testing both types of developers with strong lighting as Thomas suggest.
    give it a go , you can see for yourself the improvement.

    I too have seen John Sexton's prints in person, so how does this come into play?
    or even explain why many workers use Pyro for holding highlight detail in strong lighting conditions.
    I believe Steve uses Pyrocat Semi Stand, also I have seen his prints live and they are great.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    I think the blown-out highlight issue is usually overstated. I have seen many prints made with tanned negatives, and have never noticed the highlight detail and gradation to be more impressive than with a well controlled non-staining developer. For anyone interested in some examples of what can be achieved even with a standard PQ developer, I strongly suggest looking at John Sexton's powerplant and Hoover Dam pictures from his Places of Power project. Many of the negatives were made under extreme contrast conditions, with ho hum TMAX RS developer, more dilute than usual and with reduced agitation, and I have never seen a longer tonal scale, nor better highlight detail and gradation than in those prints.

    Stand development techniques, including those with tanning developers are not just for highlight control. In fact there is often less compensation than one might expect. It does however produce a unique tonal scale and more pronounced edge effects, all depending on the film-developer combo. I think Steve Sherman uses stand development quite a bit with ULF. Can't remember if he uses Pyrocat or a Pyro developer.

  2. #72
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    I'm not a golfer, but see film developer has different golf clubs in your bag. You don't want to use a driver when you only need a putter. As with golf, you only get better by playing. So see the lay of the golf course, and pick the right club for the right shot.

  3. #73
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    I'd just add that if Sirius Glass hasn't printed stained negatives before, it can take a little getting used to. So it might take a little practice before you can really decide whether or not to stick with the staining developer. The same goes for evaluating the negatives visually. You might look at the stained negative while it is drying and think you failed because it looks a little thin and low in contrast. That's how they are supposed to look. The printing paper sees the negative differently than your eyes so you really have to print them.
    Agreed. For me, Pyrocat was the developer I used when I started being able to make pretty decent prints, so it was a learning curve in reverse when I stopped using it.
    I agree that the negatives look visually different from regular negatives and that printing them is the only way to evaluate them properly. However, I hold to my opinion that Pyrocat does hold highlight contrast better than any other developer I have tried. That's the impression I have of about two years worth of printing pyro negs.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  4. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    ...You might look at the stained negative while it is drying and think you failed because it looks a little thin and low in contrast. That's how they are supposed to look. The printing paper sees the negative differently than your eyes so you really have to print them.
    Does this men that you cannot evaluate them with a densitometer?
    Michael Batchelor
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  5. #75
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    Yes you can

    Quote Originally Posted by michaelbsc View Post
    Does this men that you cannot evaluate them with a densitometer?
    I think you have to zero out the densitometer on the film base and don't take the base density into account.

  6. #76

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    For most stained negatives you need to set a color densitometer to the blue channel, or use a blue filter on a B&W densitometer. You have to think like your printing paper when measuring densities. There is less silver density in stained negatives than normal negatives, but there is also stain density. If you use a regular white light densitometer it will therefore read less density than your paper will "see" (ie the negative will print with more contrast than you expect). The printing paper sees both the silver density and the stain density as additive. This is why a properly processed Pyro negative looks relatively thin and low contrast to the eye, but will print with higher contrast. It takes some getting used to.

    The densitometer stuff can get more complicated unfortunately depending on whether you use graded or VC paper, and also depending on what kind of staining developer you use since different developers can produce different color stains. They can range from greenish brown to yellow-orange.

  7. #77
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    When you say will print with with more contrast than you expect.

    Do you mean the contrast filters will need to be higher to get the same contrast print as a non staining neg of same subject matter? or do you mean that a pyro neg will need a contrast filter setting lower to get the same contrast as a non staining neg of the same subject matter?


    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    For most stained negatives you need to set a color densitometer to the blue channel, or use a blue filter on a B&W densitometer. You have to think like your printing paper when measuring densities. There is less silver density in stained negatives than normal negatives, but there is also stain density. If you use a regular white light densitometer it will therefore read less density than your paper will "see" (ie the negative will print with more contrast than you expect). The printing paper sees both the silver density and the stain density as additive. This is why a properly processed Pyro negative looks relatively thin and low contrast to the eye, but will print with higher contrast. It takes some getting used to.

    The densitometer stuff can get more complicated unfortunately depending on whether you use graded or VC paper, and also depending on what kind of staining developer you use since different developers can produce different color stains. They can range from greenish brown to yellow-orange.

  8. #78

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    Visual evaluation of negatives (silver density vs combined silver-stain density) is one thing, printing contrast (in particular, local highlight contrast) is another.

    When visually evaluating a normal pyro negative it will look thinner and lower in contrast than we might be used to seeing with a non-stained negative, because we're looking at silver density and not including the stain density in the visual assessment. Stain is proportional to the amount of silver halide reduced, meaning in highlight areas a fair amount of density when printing is coming from the stain. So what I'm saying is that if you look at the negative, the highlight areas might look comparitively thin (ie overall contrast looks low) while in printing the combined optical/spectral density of the silver and stain might be normal. So all we're talking about here is the fact with a pyro negative the density is a combination of silver and stain.

    The issue of printing contrast, what filters to use is less straight forward and really just takes experimentation. The reason is that filters increase or decrease contrast by the same amount everywhere, while stain works proportionately. That's why many people say pyro negatives are easier to print when there is delicate highlight detail to render. Vs printing a non-stained negative, the stain reduces local contrast (ie compresses tonality) increasingly as density increases, so the stain acts like a built in variable compensating contrast reduction filter. It's like having a yellow-type filter that acts more on areas of higher density than in thin shadow areas.

    The situation is further complicated by the type of paper. Typically pyro negatives will print with higher contrast on graded paper than VC paper since VC papers have a broader spectral sensitivity.

    Wait a minute... is this a test? You've got way more experience that I do! I'm suspicious.

  9. #79
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    So, using VC papers, do you use a higher filter grade with a pyro negative than if you use a non-pyro neg of the same scene?
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  10. #80
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    I have the same results as you, regarding the filters or contrast needed to print pyro negs, I have found a whole grade increase starting point. Yes, maybe a bit of a test.( funny though, when I told Sandy King this , he did not seem to see the same thing, but he is using Pyrocat and has not done as much silver printing as compared to carbon printing}
    I would be interested in asking Steve Sherman this question.

    Here is a silly observation that I have regarding unstained pyro negatives.

    If you look at Richard Avedon's studio portraits of lets say the Duke and Dutches of Windsor or Marylin Monroe you will see lots of uneven backgrounds for one, but also the grain is very defined, I have always thought that his film for this time period was developed in Pyro and unstained- most likely triX.

    Super sharp, but extreme edge sharpness on these portraits on grey background.
    I am not talking about In the American West or his work on white backgrounds.

    Not sure if anyone else ever noticed this and I wonder how he made the negs.



    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    Visual evaluation of negatives (silver density vs combined silver-stain density) is one thing, printing contrast (in particular, local highlight contrast) is another.

    When visually evaluating a normal pyro negative it will look thinner and lower in contrast than we might be used to seeing with a non-stained negative, because we're looking at silver density and not including the stain density in the visual assessment. Stain is proportional to the amount of silver halide reduced, meaning in highlight areas a fair amount of density when printing is coming from the stain. So what I'm saying is that if you look at the negative, the highlight areas might look comparitively thin (ie overall contrast looks low) while in printing the combined optical/spectral density of the silver and stain might be normal. So all we're talking about here is the fact with a pyro negative the density is a combination of silver and stain.

    The issue of printing contrast, what filters to use is less straight forward and really just takes experimentation. The reason is that filters increase or decrease contrast by the same amount everywhere, while stain works proportionately. That's why many people say pyro negatives are easier to print when there is delicate highlight detail to render. Vs printing a non-stained negative, the stain reduces local contrast (ie compresses tonality) increasingly as density increases, so the stain acts like a built in variable compensating contrast reduction filter. It's like having a yellow-type filter that acts more on areas of higher density than in thin shadow areas.

    The situation is further complicated by the type of paper. Typically pyro negatives will print with higher contrast on graded paper than VC paper since VC papers have a broader spectral sensitivity.

    Wait a minute... is this a test? You've got way more experience that I do! I'm suspicious.

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