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  1. #1

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    I have a question. Some years ago, I met a photographer that utilizes a technique using VC paper in which he prepares three masks of a black and white negative in which he separates tonalities into highlight, midtone, and shadow values. He was then able to print each of the tonal ranges with differing contrast ranges through different filtration of the variable contrast materials. This allowed a reduction of highlight contrast for instance (where local contrast is usually highest), an increase in midtone local contrast (which is usually somewhat flatter then highlight contrast) and a drastic increase in shadow local contrast (which is usually lowest in contrast since it exists on the shoulder of the paper and the toe of the negative characteristic curve). The result of this technique is an open and incredibly beautiful print possessing of an inner light. I have seen prints by Ansel Adams, Bruce Burnbaum, John Sexton, and Howard Bond. This photographers prints were "head and shoulders" above any of these other fine photographers.

    I began to try to create these masks the other evening since I have an enlarger that does allow "pin registration" of masks. The problem that I have is how am I going to be able to separate the differing tonalities other then through exposure? I was able to obtain only a shadow value mask using lith film and A&B developer. But the other masks have thusfar eluded me. If any of you have graphics technical knowledge, I imagine that the method is familiar to you. If so, I would appreciate any input or thoughts on how to go about this. Thanks for any help offered.
    Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed.

    Visit my website at http://www.donaldmillerphotography.com

  2. #2

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    Step one, make your shadow mask. Step two, from the shadow mask make a highlight mask. Step three, the sandwich of your two mask will allow you to control the middle tones.

    For those imposible to print negatives masking is the best solution. I guess for good negatives it could be an advantage the way you plan to use them, but wouldn't it be better to use a long scale paper like Azo in amidol instead of doing all these masks? After all what you are doing is fitting the negative to the paper scale and all of what the masks do is either "lenghten" or "shorten" the particular area you are working on. OTOH if you are doing enlargements I can see how this would not be practical.Anyways Hope this helps.

    I do agree with you, when used well masking can produce some of the best prints.

  3. #3
    lee
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    Donald,
    Is this the guy that you met? http://www.radekaphotography.com/ He sells a kit for making masks. I have been temped to make some masks but have not done any yet. Maybe in the new darkroom.

    lee\c

  4. #4

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    Jorge,
    I began with the shadow mask by contact printing lith film with my camera negative to gain a shadow interpositive. I then took the shadow interpositive and created a shadow negative. I then took two of my shadow interpositives to gain density and contact printed those and the camera negative and a sheet of unexposed film in register to attempt the midtone value interpositive (since the midtone densities are lower then my highlight densities) but I ran into problems here since my highlight densities were too near my midtone densities. This is where I need to come up with a way to separate my midtone from highlight densities. Since the midtones will print through before highlights. I hope that I am making myself clear here. Any ideas on how to do that?

    To answer your questions about using a long scale paper like Azo...While Azo is incredible, this technique will allow controls over print local contrasts and values that Azo will not. Printing with Azo, in my experience, allows limited means of print manipulation. It does offset some of this lack of control by the increased length of tonal scale.
    Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed.

    Visit my website at http://www.donaldmillerphotography.com

  5. #5

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    Lee,
    Thank you for your reply. No, Lynn is not that fellow. I have purchased Lynns kit of masking some time ago. And while excellent, his techniques do not cover what I have observed before. The fellow that I met is named Charles Phillips and he studied with Ansel some years ago. He has developed this technique of masking himself (over a period of some years) and his prints are in a league of their own. He is capable of isolating areas of the print in a manner that no one else I know of has.
    Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed.

    Visit my website at http://www.donaldmillerphotography.com

  6. #6

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (dnmilikan @ Feb 12 2003, 08:11 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> Jorge,
    I began with the shadow mask by contact printing lith film with my camera negative to gain a shadow interpositive. I then took the shadow interpositive and created a shadow negative. I then took two of my shadow interpositives to gain density and contact printed those and the camera negative and a sheet of unexposed film in register to attempt the midtone value interpositive (since the midtone densities are lower then my highlight densities) but I ran into problems here since my highlight densities were too near my midtone densities. This is where I need to come up with a way to separate my midtone from highlight densities. Since the midtones will print through before highlights. I hope that I am making myself clear here. Any ideas on how to do that?

    To answer your questions about using a long scale paper like Azo...While Azo is incredible, this technique will allow controls over print local contrasts and values that Azo will not. Printing with Azo, in my experience, allows limited means of print manipulation. It does offset some of this lack of control by the increased length of tonal scale. </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    You are going to have to make another lith mask of your highlights. When you make your shadow mask, make two of them. Then with the second shadow mask, bleach the parts where you have more highlights or where you want to separate the highlights from the middle values. This in effect will give more density to your highlight mask. With the bleached shadow mask make a new highlight mask which will be more dense in those parts where you want to hold exposure for the highlights. Now you have 1 good shadow mask, and two different highlight masks. one for close values to your middle tones, and one for those values which you plan to separate from your middle tones.

    I hope I don&#39;t have to tell you how to bleach, right?

    I think you actually made a boo boo and did not develop enough if your highlights and your middle values are that close, but this should help you. I have found myself in the same situation.

  7. #7

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    Jorge,
    Thanks for your help. I understand what you are saying...I assume that when you mentioned bleaching that you meant Clorox, right???? Just kidding&#33;&#33;&#33;&#33;LOL
    Thanks again.
    Regards,
    Donald Miller
    Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed.

    Visit my website at http://www.donaldmillerphotography.com

  8. #8

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (dnmilikan @ Feb 12 2003, 08:45 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> Jorge,
    Thanks for your help. I understand what you are saying...I assume that when you mentioned bleaching that you meant Clorox, right???? Just kidding&#33;&#33;&#33;&#33;LOL
    Thanks again.
    Regards,
    Donald Miller </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    exactly...the clorox with flower scent works the best.....

  9. #9
    lee
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    Donald,
    Don&#39;t most people use TMX for making masks? Aren&#39;t the masks little more than underexposed and underdeveloped films of the image? Howard Bond is a huge fan of this technique. Aren&#39;t they called unsharp masks. Don&#39;t they use a piece of clear film between the masks and the original negative? More questions than answers.

    lee&#092;c

  10. #10

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    Lee,
    Thank you for your post and your questions. The technique that I am trying to resolve is an entirely different masking technique then what Howard Bond uses. The unsharp masks which he uses and advocates are precisely what you describe in that they are low contrast and density unsharp positives of the camera negative. They accomplish two effects. The first is that they reduce the overall density range of the camera negative and they increase apparent print sharpness through so called "edge effects". The decrease of the overall density range of the negative is then compensated for by printing with a higher paper grade and this increases local contrast.

    The techique that I am addressing is one of the creation of sharp cutting high contrast and density masks. These masks ideally will separate the density ranges of the camera negative into three predominant ranges. Those being highlight, midtone, and shadow. The reason for the desire to do this is that each of the regions of density operate under differing local contrast conditions. For instance, shadows are always of lower local contrast then midtones and highlights. The reason is that the shadow densities fall on the toe of the camera negative characteristic curve and the shoulder of the paper characteristic curve. Therefore the differing tonalities in this region are not well separated on the print. The midtone and highlight tonal regions or density ranges, if you will, all have their inherent differences. The highlight regions, for instance, fall on the upper regions of the straight line approaching the shoulder of the camera negative&#39;s and the toe of the paper&#39;s characteristic curve.

    By using sharp cutting masks in register with the camera negative, I will be able to print each of these regions with optimized paper contrast grade filtration using variable contrast materials. I will also be able to print the values of these regions separately. I would then use an unsharp mask to blend the demarcation points of the various tonal regions.

    Now as to your question of film selection for the production of masks. The use of a camera film is wrought with problems as I view it. First it is a continuous tone material and will not resolve detail as well. Secondly it is of a thicker base material and this has a greater potential for light scatter and further loss of resolution. I am working with a half tone ortho litho film which has the capabilities of being sharp cutting or continuous tone depending on developer selection.

    I apologize for the lengthy discourse. I do not know of a shorter way to adequately answer your questions. If you have further questions or input, I will appreciate hearing from you.

    Regards,

    Donald Miller
    Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed.

    Visit my website at http://www.donaldmillerphotography.com

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