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  1. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Claire Senft View Post
    I probably print with less contrast than I did in days gone by. I would guess that my prints are a bit on the flat side since I am so aware of the tendency to use more than the required contrast.

    For myself, others may do as they wish, I feel that if the original scene was rather flat, then that is the way I will generally portray it.

    This I think raises the question for each photographer to solve as they will:
    If the scene is flat should the contrast be boosted to use the full range or a greater portion of the paper's range? If the scene is very contrasty, how far should a photographer go in reducing the range?

    I believe a photographer can have a personal philosophy of how to handle scenes as a genral rule or can expose, develop and print on a case by case basis. Whatever method is chosen it is, I believe, best to make your choice at the time the film is exposed.
    Dear Claire,

    I completely agree with your point that a flat scene should look flat, though to be fair, I seldom find overly 'pumped up' N+ development as unconvincing as overly flattened N- development. I'm talking about excess in both cases, obviously.

    But I'm intrigued by your statement about 'more than the required contrast' as if contrast were a quantifiable absolute rather than a matter of preference.

    Cheers,

    R.

  2. #12
    Robert Hall's Avatar
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    As I recall, Don Kirby spoke of how he really got carried away with his contrast masking. He mentioned that he realized that some of his prints got so hard with contrast that he has started to swing the other way on how he printed. I've seen some of his prints and yes, they are quite hard. I would like to see how more recent prints look.

    I think there is subject matter out there, especially black and white photographed subject matter, that really lends itself to a harder contrast, contrast masks and the like, but there are many subjects with which it does not work well.

    The other possiblity is we as photographers love to have more tools hanging from our belts and as we learn new tricks to get that contrast we tend to use them. (sometimes whether it calls for it or not!)

    I have a couple prints in my gallery that have been masked. I kind of like them for what they are. I find that I don't feel I need to do this with every print I have either.
    Robert Hall
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    Technology is not a panacea. It alone will not move your art forward. Only through developing your own aesthetic - free from the tools that create it - can you find new dimension to your work.

  3. #13

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    Roger, of course what is the required contrast that is not only determined by the photographer but also by that photographer's state of mind when doing the printing. My comment about more than the required contrast is intended to convey that having brilliant whites and burying your shadow detail in an overly dark rendition. This is obviously a personal choice and is als controllred by the viwing conditions that are extant when looking at the print. If the print will be viewed in very bright light it will, as you know, look markedly different than if viewed under rather dim lighting. People that exhibit their prints or sell them have harder choices to make than do I since I make them for the conditions of viewing them myself in my own residence.
    Therefore the only person that has cause to feel dismay upon looking at them is me.
    Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)

  4. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
    'Covering power' (grammes per square metre of silver) is a complex subject but I recall that the highest Dmax Ilford ever found was on an Agfa contact paper with under 1 g/sm while one of the Kodak papers was the worst with over 2 g/sm.
    You seem confused between "coating weight" (what you described) and "covering power." The latter is optical density per unit coating weight. The higher the covering power, the higher density you get with the same amount of silver (or any dye or pigment). The term "covering power" is also used to describe nonphotographic materials such as drawing materials and fountain pen ink.

  5. #15

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    I am in my mid thirties and have been printing for about 10 years. I have always preferred contrasty prints.

    Numerous people on this site and in person have suggested that I'll "grow out of it," and gradually prefer a more mellow look. This is the first time someone has suggested the opposite.

    Maybe it means I'm wise beyond my years, or that I was an old man at 24. My guess is it's just a matter of influence from the photos I've admired over the years. Alas, I showed up to late for Grade 5 papers . . .

  6. #16

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    I'm not sure what to think of this one. When I first tried printing (in my twenties) my prints were pretty contrasty. I think people often print like that in the beginning. Then I went through a stage of showing I had full 'control', and bringing out all the detail and tones. Now I've for the most part lost interest in that, and just like to get as much 'life' as I can, which can often mean very contrasty. The difference is I think I know what I'm doing a bit more this time around.

    Cate

  7. #17
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Well, not being an old geezer myself (yet, these things are inevitable) I have noticed one thing when I saw Karsh prints from the 50s-60s: they were much more darker and lower in contrast than what you would expect now. It's not that they looked muddy, or that the contrast seemed inappropriate to the subject, but they needed to be seen in relatively intense light. I don't know if that's just the way Karsh printed then, or whether it was the current fashion then, or whether it had something to do with the available materials.

    I would go for fashion: we all remember what a tasteful blessing the fashion of high-contrast photos in the 80s was in contrast to these old dark prints. Especially with color...
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  8. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryuji View Post
    You seem confused between "coating weight" (what you described) and "covering power." The latter is optical density per unit coating weight. The higher the covering power, the higher density you get with the same amount of silver (or any dye or pigment). The term "covering power" is also used to describe nonphotographic materials such as drawing materials and fountain pen ink.

    Dear Ryuji,

    Of course you're right. Sloppy writing/not re-reading what I'd written/conflating several iterations of a draft. Sheer sloppiness. Sorry.

    Cheers,

    R.

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stargazer View Post
    I'm not sure what to think of this one. When I first tried printing (in my twenties) my prints were pretty contrasty. I think people often print like that in the beginning. Then I went through a stage of showing I had full 'control', and bringing out all the detail and tones. Now I've for the most part lost interest in that, and just like to get as much 'life' as I can, which can often mean very contrasty. The difference is I think I know what I'm doing a bit more this time around.

    Cate
    Dear Cate,

    I had wondered about that one too; I think that's what happened to me, and no doubt to others. You phrased it more elegantly than my idle thoughts, however.

    Cheers,

    R.

  10. #20
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    I've always printed both color and black and white with contrast because I like more dramatic pictures as a rule.

    Michael
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

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