printing low contrast negatives
I am seeking suggestions on printing low contrast negatives, made on TMAX film (both 400 and 100). The narrow contrast resulted from what I think was short development time at a lab. The exposures are fine. I was planning on using a VC paper, and wonder if there might be some good combinations of chemical and paper brand that someone could recommend.
hi, i shoot large format and i have several old uncoated lenses that give me low contrast negs everytime, it never fails, as far as paper goes i use the arista edu ultra because its cheap and dektol dev. the one thing i do have is a nice set of graded filters, when I start printing i will normally start with a no. 3 filter and go from there, just remember that each jump in grade after 3 you will need to double your exposure time.
"Why thats one of those old black and white cameras aint it?"
How low is low? If you intend to print in your darkroom, you could just start with using harder than usual contrast filter, say #4 or #5 and see if you can get acceptable prints.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
I know this doesn't answer your question about printing low contrast negs, but do you have to use a lab? The ability to develop film yourself would solve the problem.
Originally Posted by S.Frank
“The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”
Just use a high contrast filter and see where it takes you.
If exposures are 'fine' then you should have plenty of shadow detail, just not very much in terms of mid-tone and highlight contrast.
If I may suggest using a print developer that yields higher than normal contrast - like Dektol or Ilford Multigrade. Both give higher contrast than plenty of other developers.
If you really want to get fancy, try Versa Print II from Photographer's Formulary. It's a rather unique developer that doesn't merely increase density with prolonged developing time, the blacks keep getting blacker, but the whites stay white. That could give you a bit of an edge.
Finally, us a condenser enlarger. They give a bit more contrast than any diffused light enlarger light source.
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You could also intensify the negatives which would increase their contrast and make them easier to print.
A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Agree with all that's been said so far. Try the simplest approach first and progress in complexity from there if required:
1. Try higher filters in your enlarger with standard paper developers like Dektol, LPD, etc and Ilford VC papers or maybe try Oriental VC papers
2. Add a higher contrast developer
3. Switch to condenser enlarger if available
4. Intensify the negative (selenium can help a little if the negative isn't too thin, or use a formulated proportional or super-proportional intensifier)
5. Make a contrast increasing mask or even dupe the negative to make it more contrasty (these are more complicated last resorts)
Ilford Multigrade has the highest contrast I've found. It is at least a grade more contrasty than Foma or Kentmere. And a condenser enlarger definitely makes a difference.
Thanks to everyone for the excellent suggestions. I will start with a higher filter, and see where it goes--basically, the film in question lacks a true density in the high range, but the shadow detail is very good. Probably, I will start by experimenting with Ilford multigrade and/or Oriental VC, possibly with a # 3 filter for starters. Eventually, I may make fiber prints.
Last edited by S.Frank; 12-20-2012 at 12:41 PM. Click to view previous post history.
First try the high contrast filters. You can even use a No. 47B (C5) filter to get the most from the paper. High contrast paper often doesn't give the best results, however. If you are still unhappy, try selenium toner (pretty strong, Barnbaum recommends 1+1 dilution for 15 to 20 minutes for full effect) on a negative you are not too attached to. I've seen this do wonders for flat negatives.