I know I will be corrected if I'm wrong, which is a good thing, but I think the minimum time for maximum black is best used when proper film testing is done to implement zone system principles. The minimum time for maximum black means the minimum time that is needed to print values below zone I as maximum black. If you know that it takes 10 sec to reach max black, then you know that a time of 12 sec will have the effect of lowering other print values below where you may want them, assuming the print requires some portion(s) to be maximum black. Am I anywhere close on this reasoning?
I use min time for max black to determine Zone 1 film speed and for subsequent eyeballing of contacts to determine development time as per the late Barry Thornton's writings.
For enlarging I either use highlight detail for determining time, and contrast grade for good-enough-for-me blacks (plus the inevitable shuffle back & forward to fine-tune). Alternately, I have started to use split grade printing, using the low contrast exposure to determine basic highlight detail and the high contrast exposure to determine basic shadow/ detail & blacks and will probably go down that road in future as I always use VC paper.
Last edited by Bob F.; 01-13-2005 at 12:41 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Originally Posted by Chuck1
The "zone" system may be approached very methodically. For
those who have never heard the word "zone" it is approached
intuitivily. Knowing only that more or less exposure will affect
density and that development time will make for denser dense
areas allows for an approximation of zone sytem adjustment.
The question is: are you happy with your results? If you are, then your system is fine. The minimum exposure/maximum black is a perfectly valid system for single-filter printing, although you can also use a semi-split filter technique to burn in certain areas of the print. Your system simply gives you the starting point--a base exposure that is going to be nearly correct as long as you have consistently exposed and developed negs.
Originally Posted by craigclu
I used it happily for many years until I discovered split filter printing, and for me, the split filter technique gives me the same 95% rate at getting a good work print on the first try as the maximum black technique, but does a better job at 1)accommodating a range of different negs, including ones that were not perfectly exposed or developed, and 2)better local contrast within the print tones themselves.
Originally Posted by Bob F.
Yup, and yup! Me too.
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I've always been confused why people go through so much effort establishing personal film speeds, normal film development times, normal print contrast, and normal print development/dilution times, then abandon it all when making a print by working backwards from the high values.
I find that when making "WORK PRINTS" there is no faster method of arriving at an appropriate level of overall contrast than when using max-black times. This was simple with graded papers, but got confusing with my Zone VI VC head and the compensating metronome (Tik-Tok) timer. I finally quit using the Tik-Tok (it reads only the amount of light, not the ratio of soft to hard light...change one and the total amount of BOTH lights that hits the paper changes) and got a small electronic metronome, then spent a day establishing max-black times (including selenium toning) at a bunch of contrast settings. I prefer to print short of, then tone for max-black.
As a test, I printed a segment of a "perfect normal contrast negative" that contained a solid black, good shadow detail, rich medium values and flowing water and printed it a range of settings. The black remained rooted in place at all settings. As contrast increased all the values shifted from below value I up; each value above moving more than the one below in a even, preditactable fashion. I like predictable!!!
Originally Posted by MurrayMinchin
Great technique for single-filter printing. What I would do, too. Split filter works a little differently, however, in that you do a stepped test print at full magenta (if you're using a colorhead like I am) and another at full yellow. The best "textured black" on the magenta print and the best "textured" highlight on the yellow print become the basic times for that paper for making work prints. So, if my basic work print time for Agfa MCC is 8sec. M and 6 sec. Y for an 8X10, then that will get me as close on my first try as the maximum black method with single-exposure printing does. I just happen to like the "zing-ier" local contrast obtained with the split filter approach.
Hi Craigclu - thought you might like to explore this earlier thread on the max black subject.
Originally Posted by Ole
Originally Posted by Dan
Just to be sure that everyone is referring to the same concept of Max Black, I think Craigclu is asking about Max Black defined non-technically as "the lowest print value obtainable from a given combination of film, developer, processing, paper and chemicals." That leaves room for papers which do not get super black. Also, it leaves room for prints which do not/should not contain any black at all. The minimum enlarger time to reach that level of blackness, regardless of how black it really looks, is usually called the "minimum time for max black."
Originally Posted by Claire
Printing a scene of a white lighthouse in a heavy fog on a snowy landscape at "minimum time for max black" will not necessarily introduce any black at all into the picture. Quite the contrary, in the case of our lighthouse (assuming grade 2, or normal, enlarging contrast as a starting point), it would actually show how well or poorly the neg was exposed/developed and would provide baseline guidance for selecting different contrast grades, etc., so that the proper brilliance could be achieved.
Hope this doesn't "muddy" things!
Good point Jon! We could all have a different definition!!
My concept of max black time is: the minimum exposure through the negatives clear edge to print as black...including selenium toning. (Each contrast setting has a different max black time). When you do your first work print at normal contrast settings at max black time with normal developer dilution/time and toning there is nowhere to hide - the beauty or ugly reality of your negatives exposure/development choices are unavoidable. From there you can make informed printing decisions.