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  1. #1

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    Split grade printing vs Flashing paper.

    I would like to know if you use these techniques :

    - What is your criteria to use one of them against another ?

    - If you use the flashing technique, do you find the PaperFlasher from
    rhdesigns useful for this ?

    - If you use flashing technique, do you use softer and harder filtration
    with your flashing tools ?

    I would like to thanks all the people that participate in this forum, because
    they offer the way for non professional to improve their darkroom works.


    Best regards from france,

    Eric.

  2. #2
    Sean's Avatar
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    I was just wondering about this myself..

  3. #3
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    Some people really enjoying flashing their prints - I have always regarded flashing as a last-gasp technique to get some tone (not, of course, actual detail) into hopelessly blocked highlights (which I fortunately don't get that often on my own negs!).

    Regards,

    David

  4. #4

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    Hello Eric, split grade printing certainly seems to work better on high contrast negatives as opposed to a low contrast neg. This way, each exposure is separate and distinct with less duplication of the exposure of mid tones.

    I do use an RH Designs timer, and I find it invaluable for pre-flashing paper and split grade printing also. It is quite valuable to keep test flash strips for each different paper, with soft through to strong flash application and times/app/lens height on the back as a reference. Personally I tend use split grade printing as it seems to give very good results under the right circumstances.
    Flashing paper is certainly an alternative (or additional tool available). Paper is less capable of maintaining detail over a broad range of exposure values than negatives, generally. So when you have a negative that has a very broad range of exposure values, flashing is a useful technique for compensating, and gaining highlight detail or shadow depth on the paper.

    Preflashing at a very soft grade will add sufficient pre-exposure in the highlights to allow these to appear even with a hard contrast base exposure.
    Conversely, preflashing at a very hard grade will give the shadows added DMax and apparent depth when printing the base exposure at a softer grade.

    Both methods are useful.
    Last edited by John McCallum; 12-15-2004 at 07:18 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  5. #5
    Les McLean's Avatar
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    I use both pre and post flashing in conjunction with split grade printing. I have to disgree with David's comment that flashing does not put detail into "hopelessly blocked highlights". When faced with this problem I burn in the highlight with grade 5 and then post flash the area using the RH Designs Flasher and always produce detail. This method works because the burning in with grade 5 puts some tone into the darker areas in the highlight, for example, folds in a back lit curtain, but has no effect on the very brightest highlight. Post flashing further increases the tone of the shadow and puts delicate tone into the brightest highlight. I have used this method for the past 20 years and it because of using flashing that I asked RH Designs to make me a flasher to use when I demonstrated flashing on workshops. I still have the prototype.
    "Digital circuits are made from analogue parts"
    Fourtune Cookie-Brooklyn May 2006

    Website: www.lesmcleanphotography.com

  6. #6
    jovo's Avatar
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    I believe there's been some comment on another thread that, after testing, it's been determined that it makes absolutely no difference what filter you use to pre-flash...you've simply raised the threshold of the paper.
    John Voss

    My Blog

  7. #7
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    I think Les and I are really talking about the same thing, but I still maintain that flashing will not reveal detail (as opposed to tone) in totally blocked highlights, since these are right at the top of the film's characteristic curve where it flattens out and where exposure increments are no longer producing film density increments. The most you can do with a blocked highlight is to try and get some light onto the paper in the highlight area, thus producing a tone - you can do this either only through the negative (burning in) or through a combination of exposures, one through the negative and one just below the paper threshold without the neg in place. Strictly speaking, this lowers the threshold of the paper, i.e. it can now "see" a weaker light than it could before.

    I also believe that in practice (unless you are a professional printer and print all day every day on the same enlarger), you will tend to get better results by juggling with only 2 variables (exposure [including dodging and burning] and paper grade) than by introducing a third. Of course, many people would disagree and say that their technique works for them!

    Regards,

    David

  8. #8

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    The preflashing of paper will always compress detail at the highlight tonal end of the print. The degree to which it compresses it is determined by the length of time that one preflashes the paper. Choice of filter grade would tend to have some affect on contrast within that compressed area. Probably of very little discernible difference between grade two and grade five. Post flashing, in my experience, has very little differing affect from preflashing. However the pysychological import of the differing methods upon the practitioner will probably cause this issue to be argued to the point of ad nauseum.

    Unsharp masking will compress shadow tonal scale upwards since it works on the other end of the materials characteristic curve.

    These two procedures will produce differing result but have validity in application dependant on the image being printed.

    The single greatest benefit to split grade printing is the control that it affords in dodging and burning of specific areas within the print. Insofar as overall contrast, should one not burn or dodge, there is no discerible difference between the results of split grade or single grade printing. Under straight printing conditions the same results can be obtained with either process.

  9. #9

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    - What is your criteria to use one of them against another ?

    I use both when I feel I need too. I used to use filters and split grade printing was a pain (had to be very careful changing the filters in the drawer so as not to knock the enlarger) At the moment I'm using a colour head enlarger for 35mm and MF, and I generally start with no filtration and dial in magenta or yellow as I see fit. My 4x5 enlarger has a VCCE head but I haven't used that enough to know what i'm going to do. At times I'll flash the paper, other times I'll change to split grade printing usually if I can't decide on what paper grade and by splitting the exposures it can sometimes make more sense and I get the print I want.

    - If you use the flashing technique, do you find the PaperFlasher from
    rhdesigns useful for this ?

    I use an enlarger.

    - If you use flashing technique, do you use softer and harder filtration
    with your flashing tools ?

    I don't use any. Never thought too!

  10. #10
    clay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David H. Bebbington
    in totally blocked highlights, since these are right at the top of the film's characteristic curve where it flattens out and where exposure increments are no longer producing film density increments.
    No real quibble with the gist of this message, but I keep reading references to the 'blocked up highlights and film shoulders'. I have done extensive film testing for my platinum and palladium printing(which requires a high density range negative), and I have found that there are only a few films with pronounced shoulders, and even those films only reach it at densities above about 2.4. Assuming that most projection enlarged negatives are being processed to CI's in the range of 0.5 or so, that means that you would have to be shooting a scene with an SBR of roughly 14 to even begin to see evidence of shouldering on these films. Sheet films such as Tri-X (TXP, not TX) and FP-4 continue to build meaningful density changes on up into the 3.6 range, equivalent to an SBR of 22! I guess what I am saying is that usually the detail is there - it just takes a hell of a lot of print exposure to bring it out. Naturally, every film will reach a shoulder somewhere, but it would be an unusual situation for the typical silver gelatin negative to get anywhere close to the shoulder of a film absent tremendous overexposure or some truly effective compensating development method.

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