Chris, I think you will enjoy the level of control you get, especially with difficult negatives.
I'd like to add that sometimes you can use a third, or even a fourth exposure, all at different grades, to accentuate various aspects of a print, but I only use that in extreme cases where a Grade 5 exposure might be too much, but I still want to beef up the contrast a little, so I might use a Grade 3.5 or 4, or something along those lines, for the third exposure. Grade 1 and 5 will get you a long way for sure, though.
"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".
you can also use the filtered light to "burn in" instead of using it as a whole exposure ...
dodge areas out with a lower grade ( or no filter ) and burn it in with a higher one ( or visa versa ) ...
the best thing to do is experiment and see what works for you ...
What jnanian just said.
It is quite liberating to be able to approach both exposure and contrast individually for each dodge and burn.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
In Photoshop terms you are dodging and burning with softlight. Also using the red ruby function with opacity to limit how you do it in each area.
Its funny how Adobe stole all our darkroom secrets and tricks.
I think the ability to control local contrast is the real winning aspect of split printing.
There has always been the group that love graded paper and their argument is when you compare a grade 2 VC paper to a 2 graded the graded looks better.
No argument from me I understand this reality, but introduce split printing into the equation and I buy Ilford Warmtone for this reason.
I do remember the days of trying to bring in local detail in the high or low ends and always a difficult choice which end to work on. Two developers, soft and hard was used, hot water, hot developer, contrast masking on the negative, were all methods of improving the print.
But I remember the crappy burned in highlights and all the hot water rubbing to try to bring in some sort of tone so IMO the VC paper and good split printing wins the day. The highlights were always soft due to the massive overexposure to get detail, or the shadows were blocked up .
If the negative is perfect for the grade you want then all bets are off, for the life of me I have never met or seen a photographer who can honestly claim they can do it , unless of course they are only shooting the same Rock, same Tree, or same Waterfall.
Originally Posted by MattKing
As it was once explained to me, the soft filter affects the highlights to a large degree, and the shadows to a small degree. The hard filter affects the highlights very little if at all, and the the shadows to a great degree. In my mind a bungee cord is the best metaphor: you can "pin down" the highlights where you want them, then "stretch out" the shadows to get the contrast that you need without moving the highlights back up the scale.
Originally Posted by holmburgers
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I would add that the hard filter will indeed improve your highlights by darkening an element in that region that is dark therefore creating more local contrast in the highlights.
For example telephone lines in a street scene will darken and create the illusion of detail by just being more obvious.
There are many situations that this additional burn of the highlights with the 5 filter will create a better print.
Originally Posted by Dan Henderson
The image I want to split grade is attached.
Bob, you say that split grading adds to the perception of detail in telephone lines. I imagine that the same holds true for things like ship's rigging.
Hopefully, this is just what I need to take this image from a "9" to a "10," so to speak.
If you really want to get your analogue and digital in sync and in gear so that the synergy between the two of them helps both, then skip shadow/highlight control and go straight to Curve and use masks. The other controls (incl. Levels) are just manipulating a Curve behind the scene. Using Curve directly allows you to think directly in terms of tones in a way that is clearer for connecting it to what is happening with negative tones and paper tones under the enlarger.
Originally Posted by Worker 11811
By using masks in PS, you better approximate burning and dodging. The burn and dodge tool in PS is a fudge, not very good. It is much better to get your highlight tones Curved the way you like them in one layer and shadows Curved the way you like them in another layer. Then you paint the masks to bring to the fore selected areas from each layer.
This is more directly analogous to burning and dodging under the enlarger with split grade techniques.
I came from printing graded paper silver B&W (and loving it) to PS after a hiatus and immediately saw that Curve is the tool to master with Layers. Now with variable contrast split grading is a very powerful tool which I will endeavour to master now that I've got a darkroom too.
Also if you are burning in those cloud areas, the bottom of the clouds will become more defined and any mid tone within.
Originally Posted by Worker 11811
I am thinking about burning the clouds and I'm considering whether or not to split grade the print when I make it for good.
I was showing some work prints to a woman who manages a gift shop and gallery. This one was at the back of the book. She flipped through and thought a couple were good but, when she got to the ship she asked me to make a print to sell. I told her I would have a finished print in a week or so.
In the mean time, I am taking a couple of days to look at the work print I have and just think about it. I put the print on the table and look at it when I walk by. I'll have a beer and just sit there, print in hand and consider options and things I like and don't like.
Tomorrow is Sunday and the shop is closed on Monday. I want to work on it between tonight and Tuesday.
I also use Photoshop as a way to experiment and preview different ways to compose, crop and choose other options before I go downstairs and burn up paper. Thus the reason I am asking about parallels between Photoshop and the enlarger. (The negative is on Tri-X 120 format, shot with my Yashica Mat.)
I think I'd like to burn in the clouds but I really want good detail in all the rigging and in the sails. I'd be willing to forgo the sky if the rigging really popped. As Bob Carnie pointed out, this is one of the reasons I'm considering whether to split grade this print.
If luck is with me, maybe I can turn this one into a money shot.