Question about VC papers
I hope that I can pose this question accurately. My writing very seldom goes along with my thoughts these days.
I am beginning to print my own negatives for the first time (since some straight printing "tries" some 18 yrs ago). I have zero experience with VC papers, but I would like to try some.
I frequently shoot Trix at 800-1600 on 35mm format, developed in very dilute HC110. My subject is very often people (children particularly). So my printing question relates to these situations for the moment.
I made some test prints last night using Kodaks RC, grade III, and the contrast is a bit more than I care for, increasing the appearance of the grain, and uneven skin tones, etc. Also, this paper is a bit cooler than I would want. Keeping in mind my negs are quite contrasty to begin with, I still have excellent shadow and highlight details.
Before I run out to get a gradeII paper, I am wondering how the VC papers work. I understand that the contrast is further controlled by filtration, but what is the relation of unfiltered VC paper to graded paper. And are there different "grades" of VC?
I would like a paper that will give me a slightly warmer tone than the Kodak also.
The enlarger is my early Christmas gift and a wish-list of books on the subject is hanging on the fridge, so currently, I'm "winging" it.
(Thanks to bmac for sending me his enlarger all the way from Callie. It is on my bathroom floor, but it is really awesome!)
There aren't different grades of VC, there are a set of filters that control the contrast range of the paper. For instance, in this example, you would just change the filter to lower the contrast range of the print. It is hard to compare graded paper to VC papers as they are not consistent from manufactor to manufactor.
I am not a lover of VC papers but others "swear" by them. You will need to get a set of filters to go along with the paper.
To help warm up that paper, put some postassium bromide in the deverloper. Make a 10% solution and put about 20ml of it in 1 liter of developer. This is similar to using a warm tone developer which may help warm up your present paper.
I would try a small pack of Ilford Warmtone (multigrade) RC. It has a great look (IMO) and have used it for years as a proofing paper.
RC paper without filtration is a grade 2 to 2 1/2, this would give you a little less contrast without filters.
Ilford has a set of filters, about $25, that one sets under the lens or some enlargers have a tray in the head for these. My Besseler has a tray that I slide them in to use.
RC paper has 2 layers of emulsion (simplified description). One layer is sensitive to green light, the other to blue. One layer give hard contrast the other soft. by varying the filters, yellow for the softest to magenta the hardest, one controls the resulting contrast of the image.
I've used VC fiber paper for years. I even have an enlarger that has a gree and blue tube in it and I control the output to them to control the contrast.
Dr. Tim Rudman has a great book on Printing and darkroom techniques. I would recommend it.
Best of luck,
Last edited by Robert Hall; 12-03-2004 at 12:46 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I have a set of filters- also thanks to bmac.
I will try a few filters and see what happens then. (The Rudman book is top on my list).
I don't know where you are in terms of how 'advanced' your technique is, but if you are a 'learning' amateur, like me, VC papers with filters are probably perfect. At my level, I cannot really justify having a darkroom full of different grades of paper, because I probably would not be able to exploit them to full advantage.
In my experience, albeit limited, Ilford RC Pearl gives me about a grade 2.5 when I use it without filters.
I hope that this helps,
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I'd suggest reading the thread further down in this forum on split grade printing. Variable contrast papers give the ability to make two separate exposures for one image. Generally, you expose low contrast first for detail in the highlights, and then add the high contrast exposure second to get a full range of tones. Great technique, easy to do and makes getting all of the detail out of a negative much easier with much reduced dodging and burning.
Thank you very much, Steve. I will check out that thread.
In my particular case, I'm more interested in smoothing out skin tones (upper midtone values) and reducings some of the apparent grain in those regions of the print. I use TriX as I do enjoy the look of it, but am trying to find out how to expand the range of this look based on paper choice. So many variables can come into play in making the image, and then again in developing the negative, and I'm certain there's just as many variables when it comes to presenting the vision on the final paper.
I know very little about papers in general and would enjoy a side by side comparison of the different types- perhaps the book suggested will give me this information.
And I realized I should have posted in the other printing forum.
quick explanation about filters. the lower the nuber the less contrast you get. The higher the number the more contrast. Start at a 2 or 2 1/2 filter to ss if you need more or less, and go from there. If it is a big change go a full set in filter. If it is a small one try a in between like only a 1/2 grade difference. Once you get familiar with filters, VC papers are much easier to work with. (as opposed to not knowing filters)
So there's a filter in there that will get my unfiltered contrast back down to where I want it? This is probably the dumbest question every put up here. I understand about the filter changes (low to high, etc), but I assumed that they added contrast in a variable way, and did not diminish contrast of the original paper speed. Keep in mind that I'm using a Grade 3 paper as it is.
Hmmm, back to the dark I go~!
I swear I knew all about this once upon a time, but it's like it all went into a blackhole of my brain.
I'm about out of this paper in any case, and would like to find a more suitable replacement quite soon.
The kodack Rc paper you are using is the third generation, not a grade three paper. As for filters, #2 is considered nuetral filteration. From it you can add or subtract contrast.