Have I been working to hard at this?
I spent most of today printing. A few weeks ago, I had shown a friend some photos I had made from a recent trip and he wanted me to make him prints of a couple of the photos to give at Christmas.
About three years ago, I started doing darkroom work again after several years absence. I began using variable contrast papers and learned how to use VC filters for split printing. It seemed to work pretty well. But being a lazy sort, I thought I would just print the photos for my friend without using any filters to speed things up a bit. I made the first print and I'll be damned if it didn't look pretty good with just raw light. I made another with a little dodging and burning and it looked just right. I went to the other negative which is a PITA to print--a cemetery with a storm approaching in the distance and a gravestone poking up into a sky that is three stops over exposed and several areas needing to be dodged. I jumped right in and made the first trial print without any filtration. It looked pretty good. Another looked better. Just for fun I tried another one with even more burning in the clouds. It looked better still.
To make a long story even longer, I did the whole printing session filterless. Every print looked good, the session went fast and the icing on the cake was that I had fewer trash can prints when finished.
I wonder now if all the time I spent with split filtration wasn't being done to fix something that wasn't broken to begin with. The VC papers I printed on today (Forte Polywarmtone, Ilford MG warmtone and Bergger Prestige warmton) responded beautifully to printing without filtration.
Lee you realise your going to get every answer under the sun, moon and darkroom safelight to this one LOL I usually print straight without filters unless I have a difficult negative or want to change the contrast. If I remember correctly unfiltered the light is about a 2.5 or 3 in any case and dodging / burning usually does the trick for me. At the end of the day if you can get the look you want without getting technical then that's all that matters and I do enjoy a KISS
Yes? No? Maybe? Depends? Any of these answers might be appropriate . . . "depending".
Originally Posted by Lee Shively
As with your latest experience, Lee, I try "simple" first, and if that refuses to work, only then do I resort to "complicated". Most of my negs print just fine with a #2 (the equivalent to no filter) or a #2½, with a bit of dodging and/or burning. Only in rare cases do I need to resort to split filtration to perk up, or tone down, a problem area in a print.
I use an RH Designs enlarging meter (their ZoneMaster II), which gives me both the exposure and the required contrast grade for VC. Thus, the first test print comes close enough to devise a dodging/burning plan, if needed. Usually, the second print comes close to "nailing" it.
[COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]
Rio Rancho, NM
I thought that grade 2 (whether with filters or graded paper) was the "normal" contrast grade. I usually start with a grade 2 filter with that in mind, because I thought unfiltered light was representative of a different grade. Hmm. I'll have to watch this to see if I've been doing something wrong. BTW, most of my prints do well with grade 2 or 3 polymax filters.
It's gremlins, I tell ya! No filters? No headaches? No SCRAP???? It's gotta be gremlins!
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we have run some tests with filters, without, grade 2 filter does not look the same as an unfilter print, neither good nor bad just different. Ilford"s paper is suppose to default to grade 2 with out a filter but they are not the same.
For my personal use, i make my negatives to fit a grade 3 paper, that is graded paper, not MC. Makes my life easier.
glad your printing has gotten easier for you.
I would put a #2 filter in the head and go for it . unfiltered light will give you more power, but if you want to use the filters the density balance of unfiltered will have to be compensated for it and then it just is a pain in the a ** to work out.
As I have stated before my split printing method is with a middle filter first then I use the 5 and 00 for effect.
But if all your negs print grade 2 then , I would consider graded paper.