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  1. #1
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Printing Exposure Control

    When printing I often find that control of exposure time/intensity is much more important than contrast control and where possible I print without any contrast filtration. Do APUG members find that fine tuning contrast can sometimes be a distraction to exposure control?

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by cliveh View Post
    Do APUG members find that fine tuning contrast can sometimes be a distraction to exposure control?
    Not for this member.

  3. #3
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    Exposure time and intensity are both closely controlled by the timer and lens respectively. With VC papers once you find your exposure for your highlights you use contrast to control your blacks. I'm a bit confused as to what you're asking.

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    If I keep my #2 filter in the filter drawer and just rely on a single exposure, I can get a photograph where it would be passable IF they came from a one-hour photo place. Many non-photographer people thinks those are good photographs.

    But I am not satisfied with that. Why would aim so low... My role models are not one hour machines but they are fine art photographers that will turn out stunning work.

    For that, careful use of base exposure with proper contrast grade and exposure time, multiple dodging and burning using same or different grade contrast filters, and even different paper textures. Bleaching and toning may be required. This is especially true when what I saw and what I visualized isn't exactly the same.

    None of them are distractions. None of them are unnecessary - to me and for me to get closer to what I am looking to create. I sometimes spend half a box of paper trying to get what I want. (and still not get it) Grrrr....

    I wonder what OP is looking for. He once said dodging and burning isn't necessary. Now he says contrast control isn't necessary. Can you explain a bit about your goals and motives??
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  5. #5
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tkamiya View Post
    If I keep my #2 filter in the filter drawer and just rely on a single exposure, I can get a photograph where it would be passable IF they came from a one-hour photo place. Many non-photographer people thinks those are good photographs.

    But I am not satisfied with that. Why would aim so low... My role models are not one hour machines but they are fine art photographers that will turn out stunning work.

    For that, careful use of base exposure with proper contrast grade and exposure time, multiple dodging and burning using same or different grade contrast filters, and even different paper textures. Bleaching and toning may be required. This is especially true when what I saw and what I visualized isn't exactly the same.

    None of them are distractions. None of them are unnecessary - to me and for me to get closer to what I am looking to create. I sometimes spend half a box of paper trying to get what I want. (and still not get it) Grrrr....

    I wonder what OP is looking for. He once said dodging and burning isn't necessary. Now he says contrast control isn't necessary. Can you explain a bit about your goals and motives??
    I am not saying contrast control isn't necessary, or any of the other controls you mention. I am saying, for me, if I am using contrast control, I sometimes find that fine tuning this can sometimes be a distraction, when the solution I am looking for is fine tuning exposure.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

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    I too find that what appears to be a contrast problem can really turn out to be an exposure problem. As a result I work very hard at nailing the exposure before reaching for different filtration.

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    It is not a distraction. It is a necessary variable to manage when trying to achieve the print you see in your mind. Also, it is not just total contrast, but local contrast which is just as important.

    Try to approach things methodically. Try to get some good mid-highlight tones with a basic exposure time and adjust from there. There are no constants, but it's a place to start.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cliveh View Post
    I am not saying contrast control isn't necessary, or any of the other controls you mention. I am saying, for me, if I am using contrast control, I sometimes find that fine tuning this can sometimes be a distraction, when the solution I am looking for is fine tuning exposure.

    In that case, yes it is. You change one and the other has to be done all over again. What you are looking for is a split printing technique where you lay down the highlight, then shadow. Our own Ralph has a chapter in his book "Way Beyond Monochrome II".

    I do not use this method in my own darkroom.

    Doing it the old fashion way, you do get a feel for it though. You will be able to say, "if it look like this #2 at 10 seconds, let's try #2.5 at 9 seconds and see...." and get it pretty much right.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  9. #9

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    Dear cliveh,

    I admit to having gotten lost that way, particularly when I've been rushing unnecessarily.

    Neal Wydra

  10. #10
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    I too have found that contrast adjustments can be a real distraction.

    I fact I've started going back to some old negatives and printing them darker at grade 2 (no filtration) and have been pleasantly surprised.

    It hasn't worked in every case but for a high percentage of shots a significant improvement was available.

    I been trying to figure out why my subject in a darker photo can look "brighter". My working theory right now is that B&W is an abstract medium and that stronger/more black (less shadow detail) provides a better foundation for our eyes/brain to see the midtones and highlights.

    Placing say a skin tone at a specific brightness on paper doesn't seem to be as important as getting a good visual foundation (within certain limits). Like walking into a darker room my eyes just seem to adjust to many darker prints.

    This seems to be born out by the works of Karsh and Hurrell that I've seen.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

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

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