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  1. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Lyga View Post
    Excellent, well thought out answers...but I'm still confused!

    First, Michael R 1974 and others: the increase in grain is handily reversed with the lower contrast grade of paper needed. (Honest, that is more than a mere truism.) You will end up with the same 'net' grain. And, I declaim the claim that lower sharpness will result with the highter EI and increase in development. Actually, the opposite is at least theoretically likely to be true because the basic density imparted though the reduced exposure is less likely to involve halation and irradiation factors.
    I have done extensive testing on this, particularly the grain issue, and my findings do not match yours. Even mild expansions have significant effects on grain which are not compensated for by the lower grade of paper. This is especially true in the paper grades below ~4. For example, the visual granularity will be lower in a grade 3 print of a N-1 negative versus a grade 2 print of a N negative, and markedly lower than a grade 1 print of a N+1 negative. This is why with small format negatives if I want a mild expansion such as N+1 I prefer selenium toning a N negative. However grain is only one characteristic of a negative/print. I don't mean to imply this should be the primary concern. Just wanted to raise it as a potential consideration for small format negatives.

  2. #22
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    Ahh, but, dear Bill Burk, the grade two is subjective!! I remember grade two Kodabromide being actually closer to grade one Oriental. And the old Agfa grades? They were way off. Again, what is 'grade two'?

    Perhaps, today, there is more standardization, but in Ansel's time? His 'advice' applied only to certain papers. I think that that is a fair assessment. Grade two is not, I believe, derived from a strictly quantitative formula but represents 'an opinion' on the part of the manufacturer. Correct me if I am wrong.

    Michael R 1974: I really differ with you on this: countless times I have overdeveloped TRI-X (as a good example) and have attained the same overall contrast by printing with a lower contrast filtration and am convinced that the grain was attenuated as a result (resulting in neither a 'net' gain nor loss in grain characteristics). In summation, grain seems, to me, to be a 'cost' of attaining contrast. Maybe others can either confirm or refute that. I am going solely by experimentation, not by strict, quantitative lab standards here. - David Lyga
    Last edited by David Lyga; 11-29-2011 at 08:58 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Lyga View Post
    Ahh, but, dear Bill Burk, the grade two is subjective!! I remember grade two Kodabromide being actually closer to grade one Oriental. And the old Agfa grades? They were way off. Again, what is 'grade two'?

    Perhaps, today, there is more standardization but in Ansel's time? His 'advice' applied only to certain papers. I think that that is a fair assessment. - David Lyga
    Which is why, if you are interested in very high technical quality in your prints, it's best to target the characteristics of your chosen paper and paper developer combination when you process film.

    But once again, technical quality might be desirable, or it may not. It is a matter of taste and approach.

    Personally, I used to be very anal about print quality, but have relaxed it a lot lately in favor of (what I hope are) just good pictures. I crop negatives wildly, explore extreme contrast, coarse grain, shadows so dark you can't tell detail in them, and all the other things that some people frown upon and others seek out.
    It's a switch from things that could be explained in technical terms, to something hopefully more soulful and something that couldn't possibly be explained in technical terms, simply because I was tired of it. It always felt like an uphill struggle, so I just let it go instead. I can tell you this much, I'm having a lot more fun.

    So, I encourage you to explore your own preferences. Pick a single paper to work with, and a single developer, and then start to tweak your negatives to see what you like. Possibly shoot the same scene a few times over, but wildly alter how you process your negatives. Not much to lose, and everything to gain.
    "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. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Burk View Post
    Yay Ansel Adams had it right by me. When he said make the negs fit Grade 2 paper, he knew he was talking about making negatives that are easier to print!
    Ideally, yes. But if you read Ansel's books carefully one of the interesting things that jumps out at you is the fact most of his classic images don't print on grade 2, and require significant manipulation. He's got everything from grade 1 to Brovira 5.

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Lyga View Post
    Michael R 1974: I really differ with you on this: countless times I have overdeveloped TRI-X (as a good example) and have attained the same overall contrast by printing with a lower contrast filtration and am convinced that the grain was attenuated as a result (resulting in neither a 'net' gain nor loss in grain characteristics). In summation, grain seems, to me, to be a 'cost' of attaining contrast. Maybe others can either confirm or refute that. I am going solely by experimentation, not by strict, quantitative lab standards here. - David Lyga
    David, I'm referring to fine grained films such as TMX, Delta, Acros, Pan F etc. They are what I like to call "precariously fine grained", ie they are highly sensitive to changes in development time, and the effects of paper grade are insufficient to cancel them out. The same goes for fine grain developers. I have not done an evaluation of Tri-X, so I'll have to defer to your judgement on that one. I suspect the difference is that Tri-X has prominent grain to begin with, and also that the somewhat less tabular nature of the grain makes it less sensitive to development changes from the perspective of visual graininess.

  6. #26

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    [QUOTE=Bill Burk;1264243]How did the negs look for Grade 2?

    Say, technically, the thin flat neg printed on contrasty paper is best - especially for miniature formats. But the negs are hard to print! By judging the results disregarding the intense effort it takes in the darkroom - you doomed amateur photographers to a life among difficult to print negatives.

    Yay Ansel Adams had it right by me. When he said make the negs fit Grade 2 paper, he knew he was talking about making negatives that are easier to print!

    Bill - the exercise was to demonstrate to students how the compression and expansion of development related to paper grades, so the Grade 2 combination yielded a standard, kind of commercial full range and balanced print, which could be boring. . .Obviously this was a jumping off place from which to pursue the image, kind of like what Picker used to call the Proper Proof, or what Ed Weston might have called a "sterile inventory of the negative".

    Re the slightly flat neg and difficulty to print - I'm thinking you are referring to Picker's advice for small formats - I'm not sure what you mean about difficulty to print. The idea would be to calibrate development to print up one grade from normal (I'm avoiding the term Grade 2, as pointed out, is subjective). Do you mean that generally the higher the grade, the less latitude a paper has for exposure variation? (I would agree)

    Stepping back out of the details, though, it seems that shooting for Grade 2 in development, as you point out Adams recommended, even though he had a full stock of grades, makes sense.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn View Post
    It can be a quite a range...say from 2 on my Pentax Digital Spot in the shadows where I want detail and 9 or 10 in the highlights were I want detail.
    Do you know the double-exposure trick from Fred Picker? Shoot the forest on partly cloudy day. Wait for bright sunshine and expose just enough to properly expose the highlights. Then wait for cloud cover to make the sun disappear and expose again, longer for the shadows.

  8. #28
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by George Collier View Post
    Re the slightly flat neg and difficulty to print. Do you mean that generally the higher the grade, the less latitude a paper has for exposure variation? (I would agree).
    Yes, exactly. The tone changes more quickly on contrasty paper with small exposure changes (burning and dodging goes faster). My last high-contrast print, sky went from blank white to full storm dark very quickly. With low-contrast paper, I can burn and dodge slowly and smoothly and can often cause barely noticeable differences.

  9. #29
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    ... most of his classic images don't print on grade 2, and require significant manipulation.
    I was thinking the exact same thing. Working quickly you sometimes make mistakes and have to live with an imperfect neg.

    This week I will have to watch one of my negs because I forgot to open up the aperture in deep shade. I metered and knew I had to do it, I just forgot.

  10. #30

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    I have found that I prefer a generously exposed neg developed to a gamma around 0.5 or a tad more. I use VC papers and find the use of slightly higher grades produces results more like my prints on graded papers in the old days.

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