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  1. #1

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    split grade printing

    Hi all.
    Did my first split grade print this weekend and wasted lots of paper. But thats OK, i got a nice result in the end...

    Doing the stuff in the darkroom ist obviously different than reading about it in a book.

    So a couple of practical questions came up:

    (1) With the soft (#00) test strip i want to determine the highlights of the final print. But what if I have a small light area that only covers one or two of the different exposures of the test strip? Should I make several different strips, each with two/three exposures only but all covering the bright part? Or guess the correct exposure even if most of the stripes are only in dark areas?

    (2) Should I use #00 or #0 for the soft part? Most guides say #0, but I think most of them mean "the softest you can get". I use a fujimoto g70 dichro with diffuser head by the way.

    (3) When the exposure times for soft and hard are identical I could have achieved (more or less) the same with one fixed gradation, right?

    (4) If i dodge during soft I increase, during hard I decrease local contrast, right?

    So much to do, so little time....

    Rgds,
    Gerd.

  2. #2
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    The soft exposure can also be done with your maximum yellow setting on the enlarger. The hard exposure, with the maximum magenta setting. If you don't like doing two exposures, you can combine the light colors and make a single exposure using a chart.

  3. #3
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by splash_fr View Post
    Hi all.
    Did my first split grade print this weekend and wasted lots of paper. But thats OK, i got a nice result in the end...

    Doing the stuff in the darkroom ist obviously different than reading about it in a book.

    So a couple of practical questions came up:

    (1) With the soft (#00) test strip i want to determine the highlights of the final print. But what if I have a small light area that only covers one or two of the different exposures of the test strip? Should I make several different strips, each with two/three exposures only but all covering the bright part? Or guess the correct exposure even if most of the stripes are only in dark areas?

    (2) Should I use #00 or #0 for the soft part? Most guides say #0, but I think most of them mean "the softest you can get". I use a fujimoto g70 dichro with diffuser head by the way.

    (3) When the exposure times for soft and hard are identical I could have achieved (more or less) the same with one fixed gradation, right?

    (4) If i dodge during soft I increase, during hard I decrease local contrast, right?

    So much to do, so little time....

    Rgds,
    Gerd.
    1. With the soft (#00) test strip i want to determine the highlights of the final print. But what if I have a small light area that only covers one or two of the different exposures of the test strip? Should I make several different strips, each with two/three exposures only but all covering the bright part? Or guess the correct exposure even if most of the stripes are only in dark areas?

    This can get a little trying at times, and you have to make your test strip such that you get in the ball park for the soft exposure. You can see on the enlarger base board, or by studying the negative, in which areas it's important to get the highlight density right, and by that adjust how you make your first test strip.


    2. Should I use #00 or #0 for the soft part? Most guides say #0, but I think most of them mean "the softest you can get". I use a fujimoto g70 dichro with diffuser head by the way.


    It's up to you. You can use a G0.5 or a G1 too. The negative dictates this, and how you want the final print to look.


    3. When the exposure times for soft and hard are identical I could have achieved (more or less) the same with one fixed gradation, right?


    If you make straight prints with no dodging or burning - yes.
    But the REAL benefit of split grade printing is in dodging and burning at different filter grades. I have started using three different filters when I print difficult negatives sometimes, and it could be that I use a G3.5 filter to burn in a certain area, where neither a G1 or G5 looks right.


    4. If i dodge during soft I increase, during hard I decrease local contrast, right?

    In a way, but since you also affect print density, it's tough to generalize like this.
    If you dodge during soft exposure you will lose highlight detail where you dodged, and the rest of the tones are moved up the tone scale, closer to bright highlights. Then when you add the hard exposure, the total exposure in that area will be brighter. If there was no way to get full black in that area, you just moved tones around without doing anything to the contrast.
    If you dodge during the hard exposure, you lessen the impact of the black, while your highlights in that same area will remain largely unchanged. If there was not detail in the shadow values prior to dodging, and you gain shadow values by doing so, you could claim that you have increased local contrast, or the relationship between local tonal values.

    Local contrast is describing the relationship between tonal shifts in a micro environment, but it affects the entire negative. Usually this is accomplished when you expose your film and develop it. By changing exposure, developing time, and agitation, you alter the relationships between tonal values in the negative. If you develop the film longer you get more contrast in the negative. But if you counter that by agitating less, you end up with similar mid-tones, but compressed highlights and raised shadow values for the same overall contrast, but a steeper mid-section of the curve, increasing local contrast.
    "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

  4. #4
    Blighty's Avatar
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    For question #1 Move the test strip section by section such that your strip will have x number of identical scenes each of increasing exposure.
    question#2 As a general rule, use the softest filtration you can - that's what I do anyway!
    question #3 Even when soft/hard exposures are different, you could still (more or less) achieve the same result with a single filter BUT (as Thomas Bertillson says) it's not the real reason for split-grade printing.
    Question #4 Thomas has it spot-on.
    Norman is an island.Time and tide wait for Norman.

  5. #5

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    I still say learn the basics of contrast control, what the filters do and how the paper "sees" light before going into "split grade" printing. Otherwise you're just guessing what everything does, which is the common thread virtually every time someone asks about "split grade" printing.

  6. #6

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    Thanks to all for the helpful tips and explanations!

    But I think Michael R is right and I'll stay at basic printing for a while and try to get overall brightness an contrast right.

    Rgds,
    Gerd.

  7. #7
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by splash_fr View Post
    I'll stay at basic printing for a while and try to get overall brightness an contrast right.

    Rgds,
    Gerd.
    In that case I believe the G70 has filter numbers that go to 200, so you can try either the "KODAK" or "DURST" filter combinations in this table.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  8. #8

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    I have tried split grade printing, but was never a big fan. My experience was that I could always get a print I was happy with choosing an intermediary grade, so the advice to learn the "feel" of the contrast grades first is one I would echo. The next step, and where I find split grade printing very useful, is actually split grade burning by doing a basic exposure with one contrast and then going back over the print burning with a softer grade. I use that technique all the time.

  9. #9
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rwhawkins View Post
    I have tried split grade printing, but was never a big fan. My experience was that I could always get a print I was happy with choosing an intermediary grade, so the advice to learn the "feel" of the contrast grades first is one I would echo. The next step, and where I find split grade printing very useful, is actually split grade burning by doing a basic exposure with one contrast and then going back over the print burning with a softer grade. I use that technique all the time.
    Or burning with a harder grade can be extremely helpful too when you try to add texture to an otherwise dull and uniform looking area.
    "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

  10. #10
    Hatchetman's Avatar
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    So I guess you have to change filters in the dark? That would not be fun with my enlarger.

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