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  1. #41

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    With such massive spreads of time needed in test-strips I can't help thinking that something must be wrong? The first work-print is by eye, from the neg and contact-print, and is easily within half a stop of the eventual base exposure. I mean most negs are more-or-less the same (within each film-type or format) as those one has printed before, and the paper works the same today as yesterday, so why feel the need to work as though you had never been in a darkroom before? What am I missing?

  2. #42
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    I have to agree , with all the talk on this site about how great metering is being done, understanding of film density and placement, It should be one test full sheet and move forward at an established fstop and time setting.
    I think test strips with massive density swings is a waste of time and I would rather look at the print emerging in the developer to determine my next move.
    Quote Originally Posted by MartinP View Post
    With such massive spreads of time needed in test-strips I can't help thinking that something must be wrong? The first work-print is by eye, from the neg and contact-print, and is easily within half a stop of the eventual base exposure. I mean most negs are more-or-less the same (within each film-type or format) as those one has printed before, and the paper works the same today as yesterday, so why feel the need to work as though you had never been in a darkroom before? What am I missing?

  3. #43

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    Sort of. An understanding of metering, sensitometry and tone reproduction does not imply negatives will, or should have a standardized base print exposure time. That's one reason (among others) the "minimum time to maximum black" proof time is of questionable use/importance.

  4. #44

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    Not exactly a "standardised base print exposure time", but the characteristics of the film and paper are the same, and a glance at the neg and/or contact shows how much to aim off (and usually not very much) for a starting point.
    Last edited by MartinP; 05-07-2013 at 08:04 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  5. #45

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    I'd usually use half a sheet, for example, 'straight' at the estimated time then maybe a few test sections to check details with too-much or too-little contrast/exposure before having a go at the print. It just seemed to me that people were describing starting off with completely new and unknown materials, while mostly that isn't the case?

  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by MartinP View Post
    I'd usually use half a sheet, for example, 'straight' at the estimated time then maybe a few test sections to check details with too-much or too-little contrast/exposure before having a go at the print. It just seemed to me that people were describing starting off with completely new and unknown materials, while mostly that isn't the case?
    Most of the time I'm able to guesstimate, but I like to explore the negative to the fullest. I do not believe that full shadow detail, or highlight detail for that matter, is always important, so that's why I do the f/stop test strip with each negative, to explore what the negative might look like at heavy exposure or lighter exposure. It teaches me things about the negative and how I'd like the final print to be.
    To me that's simple enough and doesn't take any more time than making one single exposure at an approximate time. That single exposure gives me more work to do on the tail end, where I sometimes struggle to figure out how I wish to weight certain elements within the frame, and that is where the test strip is powerful to me.

    To each their own. In my humble opinion, (and it is humble as I am a hack compared to many here), we have to find methods that work for us. My method is the best method for me, as I get prints that I like from that process.
    Thank you for sharing your method as well!
    "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

  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Carnie View Post
    I have to agree , with all the talk on this site about how great metering is being done, understanding of film density and placement, It should be one test full sheet and move forward at an established fstop and time setting.
    I think test strips with massive density swings is a waste of time and I would rather look at the print emerging in the developer to determine my next move.
    Bob:

    I find I do a lot more test-strip prints when I've been away from the darkroom for a while then when I am printing regularly.

    And I do more test-strip prints when I am switching back and forth between films and formats, enlarging lenses and print sizes, then when I'm doing several prints from a single format and film, on to similar sized prints.

    I would hazard a guess that the amount of time you spend printing might have an effect on your test-strip print usage
    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

  8. #48
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    I stopped doing test strips back in the early 90's .

    The main reason is with Lith printing one is forced to look at the print in the developer, as well with my solarizations.
    After a few thousand prints I concluded that seeing the work emerge basically told one where dodge and burn was needed and yes after years calculating exposure aperture on the easel became an important skill I started to work on.
    I just basically took the skill of making lith and solarizations and applied it to regular print making.

    I look at each negative on the light box, and subsequent neg's are compared to make sure that I am working with consistent negatives with predictable results.
    Then looking at the easel starts becoming a natural density to look for.
    Then looking at the print in the developer becomes second nature.
    Turning the lights on now is a step to only confirm what my next move will be. If I am on a streak my choices are already determined by the last few seconds in the Developer.

    I have said this before and will say this again, printmaking should be fun and using a KISS method is better than any of the other methods I hear many pontificate here about. Reading their posts make me wonder how in the hell do they make images that are striking . I suspect the work is so boring , boring boring. This complexity is not needed in a darkroom to make good prints. Just a good eye and love for the process.

    I have to say the amount of work I do weekly is not the reason for not using test strips but rather the lesson learned looking at the print developing out in the dev.
    I do like MAS description of outflanking on full sheets of paper. I use this as well if I have screwed up on my questimate.



    Quote Originally Posted by MattKing View Post
    Bob:

    I find I do a lot more test-strip prints when I've been away from the darkroom for a while then when I am printing regularly.

    And I do more test-strip prints when I am switching back and forth between films and formats, enlarging lenses and print sizes, then when I'm doing several prints from a single format and film, on to similar sized prints.

    I would hazard a guess that the amount of time you spend printing might have an effect on your test-strip print usage

  9. #49

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    Keeping it simple is usually the best way in my opinion. Only make it as complicated as it needs to be. Use your eyes rather than enlarging meters, calculations etc., practice to develop your skills, and don't be afraid to put in some hard work. It's how I learnt and how my favourite printers work(ed). But in the end that is all still just a matter of personal preference. I start each image with basic test strips/prints and progress from there. But there are also people who successfully use the gadgets, fancy timers, formulas and other methods. Whatever works, as long as it is all driven by the print.

  10. #50
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Carnie View Post
    I have said this before and will say this again, printmaking should be fun and using a KISS method is better than any of the other methods I hear many pontificate here about. Reading their posts make me wonder how in the hell do they make images that are striking . I suspect the work is so boring , boring boring. This complexity is not needed in a darkroom to make good prints. Just a good eye and love for the process.
    I couldn't agree with you more. While I don't tout my prints to be any sort of masterpieces, I do have fun when I print, and I enjoy it for other reasons too. It's a huge mental break.

    From my perspective, I waste less paper when I do the test strips. And that's fun for me because a box of 11x14 Ilford is a hundred bucks, which to me is a lot of money. It has to make sense too.
    "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

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