I'd consider myself an professional amateur. I use everything from 35mm to 8"x20", but I'm too lazy to do a million tests and more tend to take a concept I've learned and just play with it until it suits what I want a photo to look like. To me it's a hobby, and not another job.
Based on advice here, I picked up a couple of Tim Rudman's books and have learned quite a bit beyond what I got out of a basic printing class several years ago. As mentioned above, it's amazing what you can do with just dodging and burning. Add in split printing using two different contrast filters/settings during the print exposure and my mind often hurts just thinking of the endless options. "Burn in at grade 1 here, dodge at grade 3 here . . . "
For what it's worth, aside from indoor shots where I controlled the lighting, I've rarely been happy with my B&W negs without using at least a yellow filter to get things closer to what I "see". Normally I'm using an orange or red for for landscapes and have just started exploring green filters to lighten foliage.
I too purchased one of Donald's reference prints - it really helps, because it is really visibly different from a mediocre print.
Originally Posted by Donald Miller
The only problem with it, is that there is a great temptation to frame it and put it in my living room, rather than have it close by my kitchen/processing room.
Oh, the other problem was that Canada Customs didn't want to believe me when I told them what I paid for it - they thought I was trying to undervalue the work.
Thanks Donald - it has been a great help, and you are very generous.
Now to work on my own prints, in the hope that someday I can extend the same sort of generosity to others.
This is an excellant book. Though I don't have one I was able to study it when a friend let me borrow it for a while----got to get me one.
Originally Posted by Dave Miller
Something sticks out in my mind that he approached his printing style different by basing his "basic print exposure" on the showdows rather than the highlights. I may be totally off base on that but I just remember those printing maps showing basic exposures for a shadowed side of a face or some object.
Anyway, it's a great book.
Dito. But if I did't really put down both my print and Donalds beside each other, I would think that my print was quite ok
Originally Posted by MattKing
Buy a subscription to "Black&White Photography", AKA "Ailsa's Rag".
There's a monthly column called "The Printer's Art", showing two printers printing the same negative, including most of the failures and intermediate steps as well as dodge&burn diagrams.
The subscription would be worth it for that alone, even if I often don't agree with either of the printers!
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
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try grade 2 or grade 3 graded paper not multi grade, ilford or kenthene, more silver is good.
Thanks again for all the advice. I took the advice of a couple posters and ordered a copy of Larry Bartlett's book. Also, I visited Les McLean's website and looked at his article on the fine print. Wow. This is just the kind of information I was looking for. Now, I "just" have to learn how to go about all the really fine-tuned burning and dodging. Judging by his test strips, I think my negatives are plenty good to get a great print. Thanks to his mapping of the process I now see how much can be done--and is often done--to reach the final print.
On a side note, my photographic interests began with street photography/documentary photography. As I progress, albeit a short progression so far, I am really beginning to love some of the other genres. The vast landscapes can be really incredible when done well.