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  1. #1
    Bruce Osgood's Avatar
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    SPLIT GRADE PRINTING, A question of sequence

    Placing the 'soft' exposure and then the 'hard' exposure makes all the sense in the world to me. But the subsequent burnings at grades other than 0 or 5 pose's a problem in my mind as to their most effective order.

    If your proof print of grade 0 and 5 indicates a need in some areas of an additional grade 3 density do you place that density before or after your grade 5 exposure. Does it matter? It seems it would/should matter but perhaps it would have no visable effect.

  2. #2
    Leon's Avatar
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    bruce - as I'm sure you are aware, there are a million alternatives to acheive the same ends, so I'm sure you'll get a multitude of "right" answers. I'll tell you what I do ...:

    I consider whether my burn in is to darken highlights, deepen shadows or both. If Highlights, I burn in using the soft grade immediately after the base soft exposure, if shadows, I burn using the hard grade immediately after I make the hard base exposure. IF both, I determine the ratio of soft to hard, then carry them out after each respective base exposure. I only do it this way so I dont have to keep chopping and changing filters around.

    If you want to do a grade 3 burn, it will really make no difference when you carry this out - at the beginning, middle or end makes no difference to the finished print whatsoever.

  3. #3
    Shawn Dougherty's Avatar
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    Great thread. I figure out my base and then do all burns after I've laid down both base exposures. I do this because I want to modify the result of the initial base and can keep that a constant. I'm not sure that's necessary, it just keeps things straight in my mind. I'm using a dichro which is easy to dial back and forth. If I were using removable filters I would probably do it the way Leon suggested to keep filter shuffling to a minimum.

    As far as say, a grade 3 burn, I agree with Leon. I don't see why the order would make much of a difference. Hopefully Les will chime in here... He seems to have this truly nailed down. Good luck! Shawn

  4. #4
    timbo10ca's Avatar
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    Someone once told me that for every split grade base combo there is a dichro filter setting that would give identicle results, but it's much faster with split grade. Makes sense when you think about it. So the effect of a grade 3 burn could be done with a soft burn and a hard burn after respective base exposures if you wanted to do it that way (by my logic, anyway). I love the freedom and efficiency of split grade but haven't done alot of printing yet, so my thinking may be off. Personally, the way I prefer to do it is to make my hard exposure then the soft right after (I think hard affects the soft base more than vice versa). Since I've found that hard and soft exposure do affect each other to a certain degree, I like to find my "base working print" then burn and dodge from there. I've dialed in totally soft, totally hard, and intermediate combos depending on what I'm targetting. I feel it's more accurate (because I can see an immediate effect). If I find my burns are throwing the base off too much, I start over with a % reduction in hard or soft bases. Is this a bloated technique? I'm sure someone here could help me refine it.... The intermediate combos I've done are probably negating the benefit of split grade, but the've been done out of sheer frustration and desperation in trying to get the negative to give me what I was wanting. Boy, I'd love to do Les' workshop at foto3!.....

    Tim
    If only we could pull out our brains and use only our eyes. P. Picasso

    http://www.timbowlesphotography.com

  5. #5
    David Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timbo10ca View Post
    Someone once told me that for every split grade base combo there is a dichro filter setting that would give identicle results, but it's much faster with split grade. ...

    Boy, I'd love to do Les' workshop at foto3!...
    The RH Designs Stop clock timer will actually make that grade computation for you, once you have determined the hard and soft exposures. But, having already determined and programed the two separate exposures, there is likely no time savings to use the one intermediate grade - well, except maybe for multiple prints.

    I took Les' split-grade workshop and I recommend it. I am finding, though, that my working methods (based on doing this for decades) allows me to print the majority of my images without the technique. But that's just me. Learning split grade was a revelation none-the-less, and is a valuable technique. There are some printers who do it no other way.

    In fact, Bruce was in the same workshop I was, IIRC. As for the original question, I don't think it matters which comes first, hard or soft, or what order you do burns/dodges. Whatever works for the individual printer.

  6. #6
    wilsonneal's Avatar
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    I lay down my Grade 5 first, then the Grade 0, then I do the burning, usually with the 0. I find that I don't often need to burn in shadows because I've chosen to get what I want there in my base exposure.

    I find split grade printing particularly useful with 8x10 contact printing as burning and dodging is harder in a contact frame, and controlling highlight and shadow with split grade is easier and more efficient.
    N

  7. #7
    JBrunner's Avatar
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    I'm one of those guys who has evolved into using split grade almost exclusively. I lay down my base exposures with any dodging. After that, I go back and do any burns. I tend to flip flop hard and soft depending on where the last print left off. NBD with the dichro head. It seems to work pretty well. Nobody taught me split grade, I pretty much had to work it out by myself, so I have no idea if my methods are "correct". When I started doing it, I wasn't aware of APUG, and was pretty much operating in a vacuum. There was a brief mention of the technique in The Book of Pyro, and so I started experimenting. I thought I had found the secret alchemical portal to print nirvana!!! I have pulled back from that a bit, but I believe it is a very intuitive method to arrive at a printing goal.

  8. #8
    Les McLean's Avatar
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    I determine my grade 0 exposure first based on selecting the first TONE in the highlight. At this point I am not interested in CONTRAST, that will come with the grade 5 exposure. I follow with my grade 5 exposure to build CONTRAST and bring out TEXTURE and DETAIL.

    With regard to burning in, I make a judgement as to what I think the image needs in relation to contrast and tonality, based on my second test strip where both grade 0 and grade 5 exposures have been made.

    For example, if I need more in the highlight I burn in with grade 5 and give a local flash to that area to bring out the subtle shadows that determine shape and texture in the highlight. This is the opposite to the way that many printers deal with highlights.

    I rarely burn in shadows but regularly dodge the soft filtration to increase local contrast and thereby open up the shadow and introduce some luminosity. Skies can be difficult to deal with depending on the sort of mood you wish to bring to the print therefore I have to make a judgement before I start to make the print. Where I want drama I usually burn mostly with grade 5 but do add a little grade 0. Gentle mid grey skies are achieved by using mainly grade 0 with some grade 5.

    Where I have an area that I just wish to darken I depend a lot on grade 0 with just a little grade 5 because grade 0 is a more forgiving grade to work with especially when the lighting in the sky is uneven when the sun off to one side.

    Clearly the contrast of your negatives and your own personal taste will have a huge bearing on how much of each grade you use in your burning in. There is no correct way to split grade print so you must spend time in the darkroom making prints and experimenting with various combinations, I have been split grade printing for some 15 or so years and feel that I am still learning new methods and combinations. I rarely use more than grade 0 and grade 5 and combinations of these filters, which together with the RH Designs Stop Clock Timer, give me absolute control over my printing. When I have decided on my burning in times I carry them out at the time that I have the chosen filtration dialed into my enlarger. I mostly make the grade 0 exposure first so when making the final print I burn in with grade 0 first. I always make the print exposure in the same order as the test stip exposure, that is grade 0 first followed by grade 5 for I believe that to change the order when you have made the test using 0 then 5 and then the print using 5 then 0 will result in a subtley different contrast in the final print.
    "Digital circuits are made from analogue parts"
    Fourtune Cookie-Brooklyn May 2006

    Website: www.lesmcleanphotography.com

  9. #9
    Shawn Dougherty's Avatar
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    Thanks, Les. I and I'm sure many others here really appreciate your insight into this process. Best. Shawn

  10. #10
    JBrunner's Avatar
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    Les, is your Foto3 workshop going to focus on split grade printing with VC papers?

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