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  1. #21
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Your Thoughts? 1st time trying split grade...

    Christopher,

    Michael is trying to tell you something important about split grade printing. If you ask for advice on printing, Michael really knows what he's talking about, and I suggest you try to listen closer to what he's telling you.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  2. #22
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChristopherCoy View Post
    Are you trying to say that what I did basically averages out to grade 3 at 10secs?

    Sheesh... Y'all are confusing me. Is spilt grade vs single grade comparable to the RAW vs JPG argument???
    Christopher:

    The great strength of split grade printing is that it permits you to use different contrast grades on different parts of the print.

    That being said, you can use it to effectively replace single exposures at an intermediate contrast level with two exposures at two different contrast levels - if you want to.

    That approach does allow very fine adjustments of contrast.

    It just might, however, be better to learn first how to use single contrast filters.

    Or maybe you are just born to channel Les MacLean

    With respect to your cat, the cat's fur would be where I would focus your attention, because fine adjustments will probably show their worth there.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  3. #23
    ChristopherCoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    Christopher,

    Michael is trying to tell you something important about split grade printing. If you ask for advice on printing, Michael really knows what he's talking about, and I suggest you try to listen closer to what he's telling you.

    I'm listening, otherwise I wouldn't be here. But when I'm doing one thing and being told another, without thorough explanation it's confusing.

  4. #24
    eddie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    Christopher,

    Michael is trying to tell you something important about split grade printing. If you ask for advice on printing, Michael really knows what he's talking about, and I suggest you try to listen closer to what he's telling you.
    Thomas- While I'd agree that Christopher should listen to all advice, there are many of us that disagree with Michael's statement. My experience with the Heiland Splitgrade System has certainly changed my view on this topic.

  5. #25
    CPorter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChristopherCoy View Post
    I'm listening, otherwise I wouldn't be here. But when I'm doing one thing and being told another, without thorough explanation it's confusing.
    This quote from Steve Anchell in The Variable Contrast Printing Manual , I think, sums up:

    "Split printing cannot create any contrast that the paper cannot produce with proper single filter techniques. What it can do is enable the printer to maintain precise contrtol over the final image by observing and making incremental separate adjustments to the shadows and highlights. As a printing method, it is not inherently better or worse than using a single filter for overall contrast."

    That said, I don't prefer the split printing method, I establish the global or overall contrast with one filtration setting, most always the settings on my LPL equivalent to a contrast grade between 2 and 3. I then may proceed to use other filtration settings when burning-in is desired.

  6. #26

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    Guys, don't get me wrong I'm not saying split grade printing isn't a useful tool. I was just trying to put it in the context of the original post. What we had there was a print the photographer found to be flat at grade 2, but didn't require local adjustments like dodging and burning.

    It may help to step back a little and think about what a split grade printing approach really is (actually the 0-5 split is part of a broader technique I'd call "multiple grade" because with variable contrast papers we can use any combination of filters to produce the desired print).

    The original post is a good example here because aside from some edge burning, there were no additional local exposure adjustments (burning or dodging). Variable contrast paper basically has two emulsions, a low contrast layer sensitive to green light, and a high contrast layer sensitive to blue light. When light hits the paper, the more blue there is in the light relative to green, the more the paper's high contrast emulsion is exposed relative to the low contrast emulsion. This produces a higher contrast image. The reverse is true when there is more green light relative to blue light.

    The variable contrast filters are used to modulate the relative amounts of green and blue light. A #0 filter passes mostly green light to the paper - hence low contrast. A #5 filter passes mostly blue light to the paper - hence high contrast. Light passed through a #2-2.5 filter contains roughly equal proportions of green and blue light, so that both the low and high contrast layers contribute about equally to the final image - hence intermediate contrast.

    So, all we are doing with filters is getting the right mix of green and blue light to get the desired contrast level. Assuming the print requires only one contrast level for the entire image, there are two ways to get any desired level of contrast. One is to simply use the filter number that gives the right mix. The other is to mix manually, by splitting the exposure into two parts, and using the #0 and #5 filters.

    Assume 5 seconds at grade 0 plus 5 seconds at grade 5 gives the desired print. All you've done is give the paper equal exposures to green and blue light (well actually you've probably given less blue exposure because the grade 5 filter typically cuts paper speed in half, but ignore that for the sake of theory). The grade 2.5 filter does this for you. It's the same thing. Suppose you wanted more contrast, yes you could try giving more grade 5 exposure and less grade 0 exposure, but you could also simply try a number 3 filter, which passes some more blue than green. And then you don't have to mess around with two exposure times and extra soft/hard test strips. Why not use one filter and one exposure?

    The power of printing with multiple filters comes into play when different parts of the print need different contrast levels and/or when different parts of the print need different exposures. In situations like this it can be very helpful to break the total exposure down into different parts done with different filters. But if a given print doesn't require any such manipulation, and we are simply looking for the right overall contrast level, there is no value in manually recreating say a grade 3 filter by combining two exposures made at grades 0 and 5.

    Apologies if any of this was repetitive or if various posters know this already. Just thought it might be worth taking a step back in the context of the original posted print/question.

    Hope this helps.

  7. #27
    ChristopherCoy's Avatar
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    Matt, you got my post card. That was printed at 12 secs with a 1 filter. I started at 2 but the shadows were too dark.

    Is that image a good example where SG would be better suited?

  8. #28
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eddie View Post
    Thomas- While I'd agree that Christopher should listen to all advice, there are many of us that disagree with Michael's statement. My experience with the Heiland Splitgrade System has certainly changed my view on this topic.
    Please tell us more. Is the Heiland system somehow able to do something that regular split grade printing cannot do?

    Edit: I found the Heiland device at the Versalab web site, and at about 2,000 dollars it certainly does eliminate some headache about initial exposure, but at the same time it uses the exact same principle as regular split grade printing does. Again, you get a print with an exposure that could have been accomplished with a single filter that combines the level of filtration and time of the two filters used with the controller. It's more sophisticated technically, but does the same basic thing that you could do with a variable contrast head, dichroic head, or even Ilford filters.
    Last edited by Thomas Bertilsson; 12-14-2012 at 10:22 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  9. #29
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChristopherCoy View Post
    I'm listening, otherwise I wouldn't be here. But when I'm doing one thing and being told another, without thorough explanation it's confusing.
    I think you need to be prepared for that in a forum like this.

    Michael has eloquently explained how contrast filters work, not just in this thread, but others. The real power of split grade printing is to take an image and apply different filtration, at different duration, on different parts of the print. That is where most of the gain is. You can achieve this by dodging or burning at two, or more contrast filtration grades.
    I sometimes use a Number 1, number 3, and number 5 - all in the same print, to accentuate different parts of it at varying filter grades. My normal approach is to first find a good average contrast with a single filter - where it counts in the image. In your example - the cat. then I work the other parts of the picture with lower and/or higher grade contrast filters. So I might begin with an average exposure at Grade 2, and then burn in selected areas with a Grade 1 and a Grade 4.5. The possibilities are endless.
    But to just combine two filters, one on top of the other doesn't release any of the true potential of this fine darkroom printing tool. It merely mimics what a single filter is already doing for us, and then we have to ask, in terms of print quality, what did we really gain? I read above that you gained a bit of understanding of the process, which is great! Now let's build on that and get your portrait to where you think it should be in terms of print quality. Study your print and ponder where you could use more or less density and/or more or less contrast, and then make a plan for how to achieve it by sketching it. Then set out to do what you imagine. That's how I go about things, and not saying you have to do this, but I'd be doing you a gigantic disfavor by not explaining that there is a lot more to be had in terms of print manipulation.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  10. #30
    eddie's Avatar
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    Thomas- It's a nifty little gadget...It's calibrated to specific papers and developers, allows 1/10 grade changes instead of 1/2 grade, compensates for dry-down,and allows you to program multiple burns at different times and contrasts. I can get a perfectly acceptable print on the first sheet of paper, although I will often change it slightly to change the emotional impact, or emphasize the subject matter.
    I can make a print on Ilford MGWT fiber, decide I'd rather have it on Forte, switch the paper selector to Polywarmtone fiber, and it makes the necessary time/contrast changes. I don't think it allows you to do anything you couldn't do with regular split grade technique, but you'd have to calibrate your filters/colorhead for the separate exposures necessary to achieve the 1/10 grade changes.

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