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# Thread: Minimizing wasted paper when printing large

1. Originally Posted by nworth
As noted above, reciprocity takes its toll, and you often do have to adjust time and contrast for the larger size.

Is it possible to make a generalized statement, say if I am going larger and have a mathematically derived exposure time dodge/burn time, and a given contrast, which direction I will likely need to adjust?

With my very limited experience, larger I went, I had to increase the contrast and reduce the exposure. I did this with a fairly low key image and spent significant amount of time and material to arrive at this "conclusion."

2. Search the web and read the article written by Paul Butzi. It is a good way to understand the BW printing and contrast control. But to me, it is too much work. I use the analyzer to do the calibration for me and it works well.

This saves me time and paper.

3. Originally Posted by tkamiya
Is it possible to make a generalized statement, say if I am going larger and have a mathematically derived exposure time dodge/burn time, and a given contrast, which direction I will likely need to adjust?

With my very limited experience, larger I went, I had to increase the contrast and reduce the exposure. I did this with a fairly low key image and spent significant amount of time and material to arrive at this "conclusion."
If you adjust the f/stop to give the same light level, the exposure time and contrast should remain the same. Going from 8X10 to 16X20 requires opening up two stops. The required exposure is proportional to the area of the print. If you have to increase the exposure time, you may have to adjust the exposure for reciprocity. How much depends on the paper, and none may be needed. You can check this by making a small test print from a portion of the larger sized image. Dodge and burn times will increase in proportion to the increase in overall exposure time. Contrast usually doesn't change with exposure, but it may. You just have to check. Some lenses, enlargers, and darkrooms (due to light splatter) have enough flare so that contrast gets reduced when making big enlargements. You just have to experiment to tell if it will happen to you and how much correction is needed. It may vary from negative to negative, also. It helps to be careful about flare and to try to eliminate bright reflecting surfaces near the easel. Once again, you can usually tell what corrections are needed by making a small print of a portion of the large image.

4. Well said.

Also, for B&W, there are some very good book on darkroom practice. I think that is a better way to learn in a systemic way. You can also learn some photographic optics that way.

5. Originally Posted by RedSun
But to me, it is too much work.

Ken

6. Originally Posted by RedSun
It is just funny that someone with 20-year experience would tell the newcomers that you do not need any meters to help, and waste your time, not paper. How a new guy can do that??

Enlarger meters are good devices to help the new guys to start. And help them to understand the different grades of paper and how to set the filters for VC printing. Also, without test prints, I do not know what they can do? So just take a pencil and ruler and think and think??

No flame here, but you'll need to put your feet in the OP's shoes.
RedSun,

I'm not putting down exposure meters. It's just that I personally find them superfluous in the darkroom. I can almost always get my exposure very close and within a contrast grade with the first couple of test strips. My initial "straight print" is usually good enough for journalistic purposes. If I were cranking out prints for a newspaper, etc., as in the old days, I might find a meter useful.

What consumes a lot of paper for me, however, is refining the print to arrive at what I consider a "fine print" or "exhibition print" or whatever you want to call it. For me, that is a print that "sings," that is expressive in its tonalities and tonal relationships; that has an expressive visual impact and that communicates something transcendental with the printing technique itself as well as with the subject matter, organization,allusions, references, etc.

I find that I have to work just as hard, and use just as much paper to get a print to do this with or without an exposure meter/analyzer. I've been printing this way for 30 years, i.e., without a meter, and have never thought about acquiring one. (I did use a color analyzer at one point when I was doing cibachromes, but now I just shoot b&w.)

The point I was trying to make was that time spent visually analyzing the print and working out a scheme of changes/manipulations before making the next print can save a lot of paper. Many rush to make that next print and don't take time to fully evaluate the print they have just made nor make more than one change at a time. I make many changes at once; in overall exposure, dodging, burning, a tweak in contrast, etc. I keep a pad of paper next to me and sketch out the entire print making scheme on it. When I'm satisfied that I can't think of anything else to do at this point, I then make my next print.

Furthermore, I really think that using a bit more paper right at the beginning of learning to print helps one gain experience and save more paper later. A consistent approach using percentages of exposure change is quickly absorbed by the brain; soon, one can look at a print and say things like, "I'd like 15% more overall exposure, to dodge that shadow 10% and burn the left-hand cloud down 100% on my next try..." Using a visual approach and test strips (and prints) to gain this experience is, in my view, more valuable and more intuitive/natural/immediate than using an exposure meter. So, I guess, yes, I'm advising beginners to learn printing without any meters.

In reality, though, a test strip is a good "meter" and fairly inexpensive. It is already calibrated to the paper you are printing on, since it is the paper you will be printing on, and it has exactly the same contrast as the paper you will be printing on (for the same reason). A couple of "readings" with this or that "meter" and you're set to start refining your print.

Best,

Doremus

www.DoremusScudder.com

7. This is well said and I respect your statements.

But remember the OP and the questions he asked. Apparently this is a new fellow and he was asking what setting he should set when he makes the frame larger, say from 8x10 to 16x20.

I know you were trying to help, but you mainly stated what you did and what you would. The experience from someone with 30-year experience vs someone just starts out is so different. I have seen this happened so many times, so I stopped asking newbie questions any more (I'm still a newbie in many things). We really need to step our feet in the OP's shoes to see how we can help him progress.

Actually B&W is technically simple. With the safelight, open trays, it is quick to have several test strips made. Assume the OP knows the basic photo optic theory, when he tries to print larger frame, he should increase the exposure. This can be achieved by openning up the aperture or increase the exposure time, or the combination of both. Changing aperture may impact the VC and longer exposure time may impact the reciprocity. Of course he can make 5-6 test prints and make a subjective judgement. But a very simple meter, like the EM10 (\$25), can read one important highlight (negative), then helps him to achieve the same measure with a larger frame. EM10 does not need calibration and it is objective, not subjective. And this can clearly cut down 4 test prints.

The hurdle for color printing is even higher. This is one of the main reasons home color printing is not very popular. Color analyzers can help greatly if the users know how to use them. I believe at places like Costo, there are auto light meters in the Noritus machines and there is very little human involvement. The print quality is very acceptable.

All the devices are tools and they do not take out the fun we can have, but they certainly lessen the frustration we experience.

8. RedSun,

I am NOT new. Well, compared to some of the folks, I'm new but I've been in my own darkroom for 3+ years. I can make identical prints in any size if the definition of "identical" is by looking at the shadow and see one shade and looking at the highlight and see another shade. That means same density and same contrast.

What I cannot seem to figure out is, when I change the size, the over-all impression of the print changes for these technically identical prints. If I put those identical prints side by side and look, they look different. Based on my eyes, they are not identical. I really don't care that much that prints are identical technically. I do care and want prints that are the same. (visually)

In the past, I sort of figured out, as I go larger, I have to increase contrast a bit and reduce exposure a bit. This is a fairly dark print. I am asking, if anyone has any experience in making the print LOOK the same and which direction changes will generally have to take place.

By the way, I don't mind spending time in my darkroom. It's never a such thing as "too much work" provided I get what I want. I once spent 3 months on just one print. I finally got what I wanted. Yay.

9. Originally Posted by tkamiya
What I cannot seem to figure out is, when I change the size, the over-all impression of the print changes for these technically identical prints. If I put those identical prints side by side and look, they look different. Based on my eyes, they are not identical. I really don't care that much that prints are identical technically. I do care and want prints that are the same. (visually)
I think you have expressed the nature of the problem very well. In my own experience of printing, and as someone who looks at others' "identical" prints in different sizes, I believe those never feel identical if the size difference is significant, unless the viewing distance is also adjusted a lot. I can make an 11 x 14" that looks pretty much like a 12 x 16", but an 8 x 10" will usually feel compressed, subjectively sharper, and more contrasty than an identical (in terms of matched exposure and contrast) 12 x 16". I suspect this is due to the perception of larger single-tone areas, viewing distances, and the angular viewing experience that a print's size influences, ie. how much one feels surrounded by it, as opposed to looking straight at it. Further, contrast and the feeling of sharpness are intertwined, and I suspect that our mind is more sensitive to minute differences in resolution than our eye would lead us to believe. I think we have all seen how difficult it can be to judge low sharpness vs low contrast, where the difference between them is a close one.

Unfortunately, I belong to the group that seems to burn paper in getting the print fine-tuned. Indeed, most of the waste comes from improvements to dodging and burning, but there are small changes in contrast involved in the process. I usually end up with a print that satisfies me after an average of 7 sheets, during the initial session, all in the target size. Often, a follow-up session, or two, are needed to improve it further. On a rare occasion I needed 15 sheets, and I have a few prints where the 3rd one was right.

I have not succeeded translating the feel of a smaller print to a larger one without having to rework it. I have used RH meters, and other types of darkroom automation, which can be very helpful, but the best results come from the most basic, technology-free approach, like that described by Doremus and Michael, in this thread.

To make things easier, I now try to print everything in one size, as 12 x 12 or 11 x 14, occasionally as 12 x 16.

10. Well, this is very subjective and it is more of a taste. Just in general, when you enlarge more, you present more details, even from the dark areas where little details can be seen before. To human eyes, this may seems less contrasting and less density. To compensate for this, you may have to slightly increase both contrast and density. But again, you just fool your own eyes since you know that two identical prints can look different when presented with two different sizes.

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