Making a test-strip maker
When I do my test strips I have to cover up sections of the paper. The result is that the areas of different exposure are themselves on different areas of the image. I have seen plans to make a device that allows you to make comparisons using the same bit of image by making a test strip that slides across a slot. Does anyone know where I can see the plans or if you can buy such a thing new?
From what I see the "Way Beyond Monochrome" book has quite a detail instruction on how to do it. I'm kept thinking of doing it as well but kept finding excuse not to.. My bad. May be put my mind on it over this weekend.
That's one reason I don't use graduated test strips. For me, it's one pop for the whole strip. The other reason is that the usual 5, 10, 15, etc. sequence gives unequal steps, which, after making those idiotic things for ten years or so, I finally could stand no more. The procedure couldn't be simpler. Looking at the whites only, is it too light or too dark? Correct that, and when it's right, (and only then) look at the blacks. Are they too light or too dark? If too light, need more contrast, if too dark, need less.
I've been teaching beginning photo for something over twenty years, and I've found that when students quit trying to use graduated test strips, they learn the process much faster and make MUCH better prints. At the end of a ten week academic quarter, it is not uncommon for a student or five out of a class to be printing far beyond respectably.
Sure, but the thing is, if you don't make a graduated strip, you have to expose and develop a test strip every time you make a change. I don't see why you can't make the 20-15-10 test strip, and then look at the whites and see if they are too light or dark.
after making those idiotic things for ten years or so, I finally could stand no more. The procedure couldn't be simpler. Looking at the whites only, is it too light or too dark?
I know beauxartes is correct. Still, for myself, I set up my enlarger for my print--magni, focus, f/stop. I then shift my neg left or right so the clear film is centered on the easel. I usually mark the place with a grease pencil. Off light. Make my test strip at 3 second intervals. Soup, stop, fix. Then I look for the first strip that gives the max black of the paper. I use this for my first exposure and adjust contrast as needed with paper grade or filtration--making a new test strip if contrast change is needed.
John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA
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very good, John. Using the clear film is a great test for black. I use that for making proof sheets exactly at the right time. The edge of the film is not visible in the black at the center of the field, but is just visible in the corners, since the center is the brightest part of the field. That way, I know that I've exposed enough, but not too much. Of course, making proofs is one thing, prints another.
Regarding your observation (BetterSense) I very rarely need to make more than one or two changes. I think that when I threw out the graduated strip, I very quickly learned to identify how much to change the exposure to get what needs getting. When I was freelancing for a magazine, I would get these huge print orders that needed to be done yesterday, and I used this method. It can become incredibly fast.
My approach over the years has changed quite a lot (I was a beginning photographer reading Popular Photography when I heard the news of JFK being assassinated). For a long time I struggled like everyone does, and going to school didn't help. At some point, and I don't remember when that was, I began to understand that if I shifted my focus from solving problems to training my intuition, decisions would make themselves and I could work with a lot more fluidity. I guess this happened when I was shooting for the magazine, because the pressure could be pretty high and stuff needed to happen fast.
So here's a hint if you find this interesting. Make a print that you think is just right. Make two more, only changing the exposure, keeping everything else the same. On one, give it 1/2 as much exposure. On the other, give it twice as much. Keep these for reference. They will show you how much one stop of difference in both directions makes.
If you like this, then try the same with contrast. To do this, you will need a subject that has a good detailed white. You'll need to get the white the same in three prints each made one contrast grade apart, the middle grade being the one you can accept as a standard.
Training the intuition really works, but only if you approach it with something very much like the scientific method. Only ONE variable at a time. I'm guessing that if you do these exercises and study the results, you will be amazed at how fast and accurate your decision process will become. Of course, experience will accomplish the same thing over a long time, but by devising experiments like these, the amount of time it takes can be shortened drastically.
i have printed kind of like this for a while now ...
every once in a while i get a "habs" type job that uses 35mm or 4x5 film.
i bracket exposures ( one as meter says one 1/2 stop or 1 stop over exposed ).
the whole roll / each view gets printed at nearly the same time ... kind of like machine prints
... done by hand 5prints being souped at once.
negatives that have close to the same tonal range
just get printed like the last one, and after the first print
you can see if it needs to be tweeked somehow ... just a little bit.
sometimes when concentrating on the nitty gritty, like test strips &C
it is hard to see the "big picture" .. kind of like seeing the forest through the trees.
Exposure/contrast does become intuitive with practice. The above posts contain good advice and should be heeded. I used to print for a local publisher in the early 70's. Most sessions involved printing 5x7 glossies from 100's of negatives of differing quality. No time for making test strips of each negative. A few initial test prints gave the key to exposure/contrast of the whole batch. The eye quickly picks up on the differences and adjustments are made on the fly. It was a sweatshop in the dark.
Test strip printer
To get the article in PDF format, Google "Darkroommagic" to get to Ralph Lambrecht's site, go to Publications/Way beyond monochrome/Contents/Make your own test strip printer.
Originally Posted by Pipit
I too have printed out the article, waiting for a rainy day with nothing else to do.
Test Strip Printer
Sorry, only one "m" in "darkroomagic". Or Google Ralph Lambrecht gets you straight there
Originally Posted by youngrichard