Another question about multigrade filters and papers
background: I was using fixed grade 2 paper for last couple of years, and often final print is too contrasty. So beside trying some procedures that I got from another thread here (soft developer, preflashing...) - I ordered some Adox variable contrast paper to try it out. I have Ilford multigrade filters. The biggest issues are that I am often missing some details in highlights, and prints are looking to "hard". Shadows are ok most of the time, only details in highlights are problematic in my negatives (but let's not analyse this now ).
I have read technique to use filters 0 and 5 only - and I understand basic principle behind. But I would like to try one method that seems logical for my case.
1) I make small print 10x15cm with 00 filter to see how much details I have on every part of the negative.
2) Put enlarger on 20x30cm size and make test on 10x15cm paper with grade 1,5-2 to get exposition time.
3) Make picture with grade 1,5-2 on 20x30cm paper and additionally burn highlights on parts where I think details are missing with 00 filter.
4) Eventually dodge some parts of image while exposing with filter 1,5-2.
Is this ok to proceed? I would like to hear some opinions before I start to burn pretty expensive paper.
I find that much time can be wasted messing about with contrast variation, when the control should be mainly about exposure. Why not try zero contrast control and fine tune exposure. You will then be in a better position to judge contrast and it will also tell you more about your original exposure and development.
“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”
I have always preferred the methodical approach advocated by Adams and many others:
1. Do all tests, work prints etc. at the final enlargement size, on the paper you will be using
2. Try to see if you can accomplish the print with a single filter before adding split/multiple grades
1. Whatever filter you think might be right, go at least a grade lower
2. Make a first test strip that gives you useful information about important areas of the image, including light midtones (where most VC papers are speed matched). Make sure the test print goes from obviously too dark to obviously too light
3. Make more test prints if required with finer intervals
4. Choose your exposure time, and make a straight print, still at the low contrast
5. Evaluate the highlights, midtones and total contrast. If blacks are not black enough, and/or local contrast is too weak overall, increase filter grade
6. Make a new straight print (note you may have to alter exposure a little when you change grades)
7. Repeat until overall contrast looks good
8. Evaluate individual parts of the image which are too dark or too light. These are areas which need burning and dodging. There are various ways to figure out how much to burn and dodge (puzzle piece approach, etc.)
9. Make successive work prints refining the local adjustments (burning/dodging) as you go
You can find some good recomendations there for printing on multigrade paper.
It sounds as though you may be over developing your negs, doesn't it?
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You could always try some of the older techniques which were common before the introduction of multigrade papers
1. Reducing contrast. Stat to develop the print and when the 1st of the black areas becomes apparent transfer the print into a plain water dish, but don't agitate. The developer on the dense areas will become exhausted quicker whilst the areas with lighter tones will continue to develop although more slowly. Return the print to the developer and repeat as ften as you wish or need
Alternatively, do as above but don't use a water bath. Remove the print from the developer and then brush on neat undiluted developer onto the areas you wish to bring out more.
2. Use Farmer's reducer on the areas you want to change the density of the image, (with a brush to apply the bleach) but don't over do it, there is no going back.
Both of these techniques require some skill and experience to get exactly what you want but darkroom experimentation is part of the fun. When it all comes together the feeling is one of great satisfaction.
Last edited by BMbikerider; 10-18-2013 at 04:33 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Start with a low grade—low enough—for a muddy print. Evaluate. If necessary, increase grade in a small step (quarter or half). Repeat.
Originally Posted by MartinP
Yes, but now is too late. Those problematic negatives I developed long time ago, and they were from summer - strong sun, +40C ...
Originally Posted by cliveh
Ignore the shadows for a bit and nail the highlights with exposure. If the highlights look good printed this way then you may be better off using burn and dodge.
Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO
"We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin