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  1. #1
    ParkerSmithPhoto's Avatar
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    Darkroom Automation's paper on Local Gamma

    Darkroom Automation's paper on Local Gamma was a real eye opener for me. As a portrait photographer, I wondered why my Ilford MG prints produced skin tones that often looked waxy. I had given up the darkroom for the most part and used a scanning workflow for about two years.

    So, my questions for starters (I'm sure there will be many more as I get into this): is it better to start with a relatively flat negative, and use a higher paper grade to get a classic portrait look? Or, is it still better to go with graded papers for this work? If I understand correctly, the local contrast on a graded paper will have a more even distribution. (The HD curve concepts are still settling into my brain, so pardon any misunderstandings.)

    Parker
    Parker Smith Photography, Inc.
    Atlanta, GA

    Commercial & Fine Art Photography
    Portrait Photography

  2. #2
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    DARKROOM AUTOMATION
    f-Stop Timers - Enlarging Meters
    http://www.darkroomautomation.com/da-main.htm

  3. #3
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    An excellent explanation and I have the "blah" prints to prove it. Availability of graded papers is another matter though...

  4. #4

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    I find that graded papers can be used to great advantage for contrasty negatives by using dilute soft-working developer and/or water-bath development and/or flashing, thereby obviating the problems of VC papers at low-contrast settings.

    I tend to use graded papers for the greater part of my work, tailoring for grade 2. The occasional really too contrasty neg gets the above treatment. Negatives that are too thin and need more contrast get printed on grade 3 graded papers, or, in a pinch, grade 4 Slavich or Kentmere using more contrasty developers (I add carbonate and btz too to "tune things up" as well). If I really need more contrast, that's when I drag out the VC papers and dial in full magenta :-)

    I could envision a work flow where VC papers were used for most higher-contrast work and graded papers coupled with contrast-reducing measures used for the low-contrast end. For my, however, graded papers seem to look and work better (personal favorites now are Adox Nuance, Slavich Unibrom and Seagull GF grade 3 (the grade 2 split-tones...)).

    Best,

    Doremus Scudder

  5. #5
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas Lindan View Post
    Interesting, thanks.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  6. #6
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ParkerSmithPhoto View Post
    Darkroom Automation's paper on Local Gamma was a real eye opener for me. As a portrait photographer, I wondered why my Ilford MG prints produced skin tones that often looked waxy. I had given up the darkroom for the most part and used a scanning workflow for about two years.

    So, my questions for starters (I'm sure there will be many more as I get into this): is it better to start with a relatively flat negative, and use a higher paper grade to get a classic portrait look? Or, is it still better to go with graded papers for this work? If I understand correctly, the local contrast on a graded paper will have a more even distribution. (The HD curve concepts are still settling into my brain, so pardon any misunderstandings.)

    Parker
    I think the idea of staying on the flat side with the negative makes great theoretical sense.

    I'm going to have to play with this.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  7. #7
    ParkerSmithPhoto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    If I really need more contrast, that's when I drag out the VC papers and dial in full magenta :-)
    It looks to me like there is absolutely no reason to ever use white light or yellow filtration with VC papers. If anything, always start with about 5 Magenta and use that as your Normal grade, boosting it up from there. Looking back at a lot of my favorite old silver prints (which look like they just came off the press), I realize they were actually printed on graded Seagull and Galerie.

    This is a really great group of people here. I feel like I'm on the way home, remembering things I'd somehow forgotten.
    Parker Smith Photography, Inc.
    Atlanta, GA

    Commercial & Fine Art Photography
    Portrait Photography

  8. #8
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    I don't think that absolutes are indicated here. Each paper is different and our uses vary.

    Ilford's extra effort in the shadows that is talked of in the paper may be more important to a landscape shooter than a mid-tone speed bump.

    The paper I've been using lately is Adorama's VC and it has done some very nice portraits at grade 1. It is very possible that they would be better if the negative had been flatter and print grade harder but there's no proof yet in my darkroom.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  9. #9
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    ... Seagull GF grade ... 2 split-tones
    Many graded papers are really 2-emulsion VC-like papers. The emulsions aren't color-sensitized but have a fixed sensitivity relationship. By varying the sensitivity of the two emulsions the manufacturer can produce a range of graded contrasts on the same machinery they use to produce VC paper.

    Split-toning is a dead give-away that the paper is really FVC [Fixed Variable Contrast - can't think of a better term for it at the moment].

    FVC papers often have the same anomalies in their HD curves: bumps, flat spots and a lack of highlight contrast variation between grades.

    I don't know how long the FVC technique has been used.
    DARKROOM AUTOMATION
    f-Stop Timers - Enlarging Meters
    http://www.darkroomautomation.com/da-main.htm

  10. #10

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    Nicholas,

    I suspected as much and your post above confirms that. Thanks. do you offhand know which papers are not FVC, but use a single emulsion? I'd really be interested in knowing.

    Best,

    Doremus Scudder
    www.DoremusScudder.com



 

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