I've spent endless hours plotting densitometer strips when that kind of procedure was warranted.
But split printing could easily be taught to someone who never even heard of desitometry, the zone system, or paper grades. One obviously needs a reasonably exposed and dev negative to start with,
but that's a different aspect of the overall subject. And a simple demonstration is probably more valuable than a book. Like everything else, it just takes some practice until you're comfortable with
it. But in principle, it's awfully damn simple.
Your Thoughts? 1st time trying split grade...
Originally Posted by Michael R 1974
Honestly, if I wouldn't have gone with the split grade thing, my next step would have been to go DOWN a filter grade. I say this because to my knowledge, or according to the way I've taught myself, a grade 1 would have given me more detail in the shadows due to less contrast. This is exactly what I did with my post card exchange, and why some people complained that it lacked punch. I liked the hazy, less contrasty look of that printed card though so I left it.
In my mind, going from grade 2 to grade 3 just makes it a harder course of shadows to navigate through. I already had issues at grade 2, so making my shadows worse, or darker rather, didn't seem like an option. It never occurred to me that I could drop my exposure time. I remember on my first roll way back when, APUG told me that a 6-8 second exposure was too short, so now I always try to at least keep it in the teens. So I could have gone to grade 3 but shortened my exposure time, and then burned in other areas. That never even crossed my mind.
But Les' article made it way too obvious. It was like picking two items off of a store shelf. There they were, shadows and highlights, I just had to pick which ones I wanted.
Which is kinda how I look at it - split grade is like two products on a store shelf. All you have to do is walk in and grab them, put them together, and bake your cake. Whereas the single approach is like looking at a roadmap to find the bakery. You've got to have a starting point and then try to plot your route. I don't necessarily know how to get to the bakery, but I know exactly where to go to get flour and sugar. My recipe might not be the best, but at least I have the basic ingredients to play with and tweak.
Last edited by ChristopherCoy; 12-17-2012 at 05:44 PM. Click to view previous post history.
You are right that Les McLean makes it simple. I learned his split-grade method from him several years ago. The bottom line is that it is a tool, or a method. Critics of split grade argue that it doesn’t do anything that can’t be done with a single exposure (not considering dodging and burning at different grades). And that is true.
However, that argument is true for the end product only, and doesn’t address that way to get there. Split-grade is a valuable tool if getting to the proper exposure and contrast in one exposure is alluding the printer. The route is different, even if the end is the same.
As for the exposure time in the teens, that recommendation is to allow enough time for dodging and burning; and for consistency. If your exposure times get shorter, that’s fine, all other factors being equal. You can always double the needed exposure simply by stopping the lens down one stop.
Enjoy. In time, as you become an experienced printer, much more of this will become easy. In the meantime, do what you have to do.
PS: I think you have moved from the DFW area. If you are ever back up here and want to come by, I can show you some more tricks.
Hope I have not misunderstood you, but using a #1 filter to burn shadows will give you less detail in the shadows due to less contrast. But perhaps you just mispoke here, IDK.
Originally Posted by ChristopherCoy
Since contrast is the difference between the dark and light values, using the "highlight" printer, or a low filtration number, to burn a shadow will darken any lighter values that are present within the micro environment of the shadow that you are burning---this reduces contrast
It appears to me that you are struggling a bit with something that lots of beginning printers struggle with - the difference between the role played by adjustments to exposure and the role played by adjustments to contrast.
It is best (in my mind) to use adjustments to exposure to make sure the tones come out the way you want them to. And it is best (in my mind) to use adjustments to contrast to make sure the different details in the scene differentiate between themselves the way you want them to.
In most cases, a single contrast grade, and an exposure aimed at the mid tones, will get you there (or almost all the way there).
The special benefit (in my mind) of split grade printing is that it allows you to relatively easily fine tune those adjustments for the various sections of the print.
“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
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I'm probably struggling with WAY more than that Matt!
And Chuck it's highly possible that I did misspeak because I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about.
Christopher, I'm starting to understand your situation a little better now. I agree with Matt - exposure and contrast can be confusing at first. Based on everything you've said so far, I'd really recommend starting with a good book on printing. You can of course still use split grade - don't worry . But a good book - or a workshop - might help you develop a "system" that will allow you to approach things methodically from test print to final print. You can use single filters or split grade etc, the key is to learn what move to make when you see something that needs fixing (adjust contrast, change overall exposure, burn, dodge etc etc), and how the paper responds to changes in exposure, contrast etc. Once you have some basics down, it's much easier to start practicing and then the sky's the limit.
Some things just aren't intuitive to you yet, stick with it, it will be..............I suggest this as a starting point, I think it's a good reference.
Originally Posted by ChristopherCoy
I believe Nichoas only found a significant flat spot in one paper type. I believe it was the warm tone.
Originally Posted by Rafal Lukawiecki
Your logic is not correct. As soon as you add any magenta to the 00 you are no longer at 00, therefore the flat spot will not be evident. Using 1 instead of 00 to avoid the flat spot only makes sense if there is no magenta exposure.
I can think of two useful little exercises that used to be standard student tasks.
Firstly, print each of the two split exposures separately, make two prints in other words, to see what they are doing to the 'hard' and 'soft' emulsions.
Second, make a grid of small prints (of the same photo) varying horizontally and vertically by exposure and by contrast, for example vary the exposure by a half of a stop over a +/- two stop range (in total, quartering and quadrupling the time of your 'standard' exposure) and change filtration by grades (having started with a print that works well at about Gd.2 and with a broad range of tones). Glue these small prints to a piece of board, with the 'normal' print in the middle, and that will give you a much better feel of what the effects of adjustments will be.