Most excellent advice. Thanks, Bob! The whole 'relative to paper white' thing applies to papers with a cream base too, as you have the easel overlap to review and compare to.
The thing I find the most challenging is how much density in the highlights I need so that they are still present after I tone them. With pot ferri and sulfide toner, the highlight tone gets reduced some, and if I give a second bath in selenium, that tends to obliterate some of the highlight tone as well, effectively increasing contrast. To get all of that just right is challenging to the Nth degree. At least for me. But I think it's about developing a sense for what the end result is going to be, and for me it has helped to use just two types of paper (mainly) for printing - Ilford MG and MGWT. This way it's easier to learn exactly how much the print will dry down, and how much it will bleach out during toning.
Originally Posted by Bob Carnie
"Make good art!"
- Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera".
- Yousuf Karsh
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit".
Years ago I had to judge color shifts in prints, One of the tricks was to not stare too long. As the brain starts to correct the shift to what it perceives as normal. I would glance at the print and look away and go by my first impression, which was often more accurate than a detailed study. Tends to work under my inspection light in the darkroom too Never could judge a print in the tray under a safelight.
All of this is very informative and I thank you all for discussing your experiences in this area. One more naive question I have concerns the possible use of several test strips through clouds and problem highlights. Is it useful to do these small strips, pull them out of the developer at different times, quick dry using a microwave or hair dryer and view under a viewing light or in daylight? Would this then guide you correctly for the full-size print?
Last edited by rternbach; 07-17-2009 at 11:27 AM. Click to view previous post history.
"Get over it."
IMO when silver printing it is best to process for the full time. pulling the tests early won't be much help. Maybe to salvage a print but I do not think this is what we are talking about here.
One thing I did not mention in my last post was I always dodge images, in fact I was taught by a pretty good printer that dodging during exposure was the most important factor .
What good dodging allows you to do is let the mid to upper highlights come in much more than some printers who
stop about 1/2 way and try to burn in the mid highlights to upper highlights.
This requires a swift and precise dodge pattern with counting the overall time in the head.
After a few thousand prints this method of massive dodge becomes second nature.
There fore I do my test to see good mid and highlight tone with very little need for burning , During this main exposure , I will isolate the shadow areas and make sure I dodge well and good.
and I use a modified split method of exposure with filters to use the Grade 5 filter to make the good shadow detail and black detail.
Starting with a lower grade filter for the first exposure allows more highlight tone to show its head.
As Thomas points out keeping the range of options ie paper, dev and time small , in the beginning stages will help you find your printing style.
Also a very little known fact, at least to me is that Lith Printers make better traditional silver printers.
Because when one is forced to watch an image emerge time , time , and again, one begins to see the way this whole wonderful process works, Lith Printers judge in safe light and get a keener sense of the whole process.
When I started Lith Printing , I realized this simple fact, and now no matter what process I am very , very keen on how the print looks in the developer, with practice and a few hundred prints under your belt, you may not need room lights to make prints as everything is under your nose, you just have to look.
All dodging burning is definately apparent, and after time density and contrast can be judged.
who needs those stinkin microwaves and room lights, just make three variations and after time working in the darkroom becomes super cool
hope this make sense.
Originally Posted by rternbach
Yes, makes very good sense. Thanks for your reply.
Originally Posted by Bob Carnie
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In addition to Bob's good suggestions, you might also try a low wattage inspection light over the tray, ceiling height, wattage low enough to compensate for dry-down (trial and error for this). It didn't take me long, and my highlight evaluation in the darkroom is very good. Another thing, though - never evaluate a print in the tray - set up a piece of glass or plexi, on the other side of the sink, angled so that when you stand back to 5 - 6 feet or so (1 - 2 meters), your eyes are looking down to the glass at about 90 degrees. Then place the print on the angled surface, let it drain some and look. Doing this and finding the right wattage for the bulb works really well for me and others (there was a thread within the last year on print viewing wherein this was discussed).
One other thing - sheild your eyes from direct light from this bulb, and have no other lights on in the darkroom (except the safelights)
It's like selenium toning while watching, you'll never know the degree of your toning in comparisson to untoned of you flat out watch it. Figure out what's right in the test strip ( make sure your negative has density in the areas your trying to obtain it, and maintain all your variables during actual printing, and don't determine anything is wrong until the print is fully processed, unmanagable
blown out whites are
mainly due to exposure, if you think during exposure the high values exceed recordable range of the film reduce your development
"The fact is I could state and support the statement my frames are never tilted. You see, choosing the horizon line, the horizontal edge as a point of reference, is arbitrary. You can use a vertical edge just as arbitrarily." - Garry Winogrand
I use the Les McLean “Dry Down” method of assessing wet prints and then knock a bit off for dry down
If you go to Les McLeans’ Web Site he has an article on it.
However, when assessing the highlight density of a wet print, I find it is very important that it is laid onto a neutral tone surface, as the wet paper is translucent, so by placing it on a surface this backlight it eliminated.
I agree with Bill Spears, the longer you stare the worse it gets but find having some reference prints around to look as comparators helps.
Having said that, an awful lot of my prints end up in the recycle bin the next day
He has posted his method right here in APUG. The articles section has quite a lot of information that many members don't even know about.
Originally Posted by Martin Aislabie
I used to have problems with this as well. I tried the drydown percentage thing as well as a dimmer viewing light. Then I got an old microwave from someone for free. Drying test strips has greatly increased my accuaracy with highlight detail. The other nice thing is once dry, I can take the strip out of the darkroom into daylight, living room light, any light I'm going to hang or view the print in and judge highlight detail. This to me has been one of the greatest advances in my printing, though it seems to simple. I can't stress the importance of viewing a dry test strip, atleast from my experience.