no problem with the length of the post. I don't know any other way to describe it either. I would be interested learning this technique also, so please forward any information you can come up with.
Haven't done this myself, but this is what comes to my mind:
When printing you need a few masks:
First create a shadow mask to block the shadow values in the negative (you figured that out already). Make a contact print onto lithfilm, adjust exposure and development such that from no density until a certain densitity in the original negative you get a high density in the mask. Contact print this again to get a film that blocks mid- and highvalues. Keep both masks!
Contactprint the negative again and extend the density range (by exposure and development) that must be blocked so that it effectively is blocking shadow AND midvalues. Invert this film to get a piece of film that only blocks highlights.
You have now four masks: Block shadows A, blocking mid and high B, blocking shadow and mid values C and blocking Highlights D
You could print the negative as follows:
Take mask B and print the shadows.
Take Mask A and D and print for midvalues
Take mask C and print the highlights.
I foresee some problem area's: not all masks are emulsion matched, I mean to say they cannot be matched emulsion to emulsion and some unsharp masking effect can be experience, especially when you are printing the midvalues (stacking two masks onto the negative). This can be overcome by just contactprinting A and D (without the orignal negative) and inverting this giving a mask that blocks highlights and shadows and use this mask instead of A and D.
If the crossover from mask A to B and C to D is not perfect you'll experience adjacent effects. Theorectically a steep slope will be less troublesome than a mask with a pronounced slope. A steep filter slope however will show itself when you adjust contrast too extreme with the range you are printing like having a higher density for the maximum value in the shadow part than the lowest densitity in the midvalues ranges. When the mask has a slope, it must be matched with the slope of the other masks to prevent that negative densities in the crossover area are not malformed while printing.
You'll also need to figure out correct exposure of the first masks A and C to block the density range you want. Inverting A and C is relative simple.
Thanks for your input. I have tried what you have suggested with halftone lith film and A&B developer. The problems that I am having, in addition to the adjacency effects, is not being able to come up with a high enough contrast mask. There is still some continuous tone present. I am presently researching higher contrast materials in an attempt to gain a sharp enough mask. I know that this technique is possible since I have met a photographer that utilizes this to produce incredible prints. The ability to alter contrast in the toe and shoulder portions produces a greater sense of openess and apparent light within the print. Thanks again, please feel free to comment if you have further thoughts.
Donald, are you using Kodak ortho lith film in lith developer? I can't beleive you are not getting sharp cutting masks out of this. You must have a boo boo somewhere.
No, I am using APHS from Freestyle and that is probably why I am not getting a sharp cutting mask, although I have used it with success before in other masking applications. In the other masking (unsharp, SCEM, and HCEM) applications I usually develop with a fairly dilute Dektol formula 1-30 for unsharp and 1-10 for sharp masking. In those applications I was actually gaining more density then I am using Kodalith A+B developer. So I may on my next attempt revert back to paper developer at a higher concentration. I was just convinced that the A+B developer would gain more density and contrast, but not the case thusfar.
If my tests using paper developer do not give me what I need then I will explore the Kodak material. It is my understanding that Kodak has split the graphics materials off from the photographic materials operation. Thus it may be more difficult for me to get it.
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Ah....I think you are correct. I have used ortho lith film on dektol and the negatives were either black or transparent, no intermediate and the black was very dense you could not see any light through it. I think this is what you need, I am sure B&H still has it in stock.
Jorge, I will check B&H...I like their pricing and availability for the most part...their shipping has been really steep compared to Calumet though. Who do you buy from, for the most part?
Depends on what I need. Mostly B&S, Artcraft, Badger and last resort B&H. I get the feeling with B&H that some times they try to slip one by you. I ordered a Rodagon G 150 enlarger lens and had to return it, terrible specs on the glass. The I ordered a Jobo and it was used and defective. Had to send it back. I did not get a hassle and got a new lens and a refund for my money on the Jobo, but the hassle was unnecessary.
Why don't you check Calumet, maybe they also have ortho lith film.
I tried both B&H and Calumet and neither carries ortho lith film any longer. I think that it is because the great yellow giant decided that photographers were not buying enough lith film and consequently splitting that portion of their business off from the photo division. I have encountered this sometime in the past and I will need to do research on another source of supply. I imagine a graphics materials distributor would probably be able to supply it (with the token 100 box order, probably).
I would hope that the APHS material would be able to develop enough contrast to be either full density or no density, if the correct developer could be determined. Les McClean sent me a formula for A&B developer that I need to try as well...it may be something different then the old batch of Kodalith A+B that I had from years ago. Mine was sealed in the original unopened package so I doubt that it was compromised in any way.
The APHS material is a ortho lith half tone film. I don't know whether the old Kodalith was a so called half tone film or not. I am not well enough versed on graphics materials to know. Anyway the search for the holy grail continues.
By the way, Jorge, how much sheet film will they allow across the border? The limit that I have seen is 30 rolls but wondered how strict they were on checking the amounts at the border.
Actually is 12 rolls, but you can say each box is one roll and show them the camera.....
Bummer about the lith film, that would have been the perfect solution, but I think it was NOT half tone....so there may lie the problem.