Actually that one looks like it has a full tonal range to me. A full tonal range is when the ares of the print that should be very dark are indeed very dark and when areas that should be very light with just a bit of texture are indeed very light and have just a bit of texture. Your negative for the Peyton school looks to have been about right to me to do that.
Originally Posted by scootermm
As for film, if Efke 25 or 50 is available to you in 7X17 format those would be good films for devloping lots of contrast for VDB. Efke 100 is also pretty good, as is FP4+. I would leave films like JandC 200 and 400, HP5+, and TRI-X at home, though, if shooting for VDB. The only time they will give enough contrast is when the sun is out.
Unfortunately the best film I've found for building loooooong scales in staining developers is - APX100.
Sometimes "clearing" the highlights with very dilute rapid fix saves an otherwise dull print.
When I added a pinch of oxalic acid to the mix, the contrast seemed to go up a bit.
All of the above may be wrong.
But I like your pictures!
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
I like looking at the images you post Matt and have often wondered about the contrast. Not having made a Van Dyke print, I have no knowledge of that side of the process. Fully accepting your right to produce prints to look as you want and as you visualised the scene, I was wondering if you try to achieve a specific density range when you develop your film.
Cogito, ergo sum.
I can not comment about APX-100 or clearing the highlights with very dilute rapid fix. However, I am about 99.9% certain that adding oxalic acid to classic VDB mixture will not change the ES of the process. Some years ago I devoted several weeks trying to find a way to alter the ES of VDB, during which time i experimented with numerous additives to the regular VDB forumula, including oxalic acid. Some of the additive changed the sensitivty of the process, but basically nothing I did changed the ES, and I tested this very carefully.
Originally Posted by Ole
Granted, I could have made a mistake but at this point in time my opinion is that the only way to change the ES of VDB is via the ferric citrate method I mentioned earlier.
It has always surprised me how many sources from past literature mention ways of changing the contrast of VDB, but when you really test their methods you find they are simply all wrong.
The fact that you can not change the ES of the process means that for all practical purposes in-camera negatives must be perfectly exposed and developed if one is to get a print with a full range of tones. And of course, in some low contrast lighting situations this is simply impossible owing to the extremely long ES of the process.
Well, Matt.... I love these! And because I am the only one who absolutely loves that first one... perhaps it should come & live here with me where it will be appreciated every day!
Your work is great! I have no clue about pt/pd/pc/pdq-whatever, and the only VanDyke I know about is the only who plays on Diagnosis Murder... but I just love looking at your photos! Thanks for putting them up!
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Sandy, have enjoyed your comments but have to ask - What is ES you refer to here? Sorry, just don't have a clue.
I think he means Exposure Scale.
by the way... I was afraid you were going to say that Efke 25/50 would be better films.... damn those more expensive films
That is right. ES means exposure scale. If a print is to have a full range of tones from deepest shadows to highest highlights the exposure scale must match rather closely the negative log DR (density range of the negative). Otherwise one of two things happens: 1) you will have to sacrifice tones at one end of the scale, i.e. either in the shadows or in the highlighs, or 2) the print will be flat.
Originally Posted by scootermm
VDB has an ES of 1.95 or slighly higher, so a negative tailored for it should have a log density range of 1.95. If the negative log DR is much more than 1.95 you will be unable to print both the shadows and highlights without dodging or burning, if much less than 1.95 the print will have an overall flat look. Overall flat is what you see quite often with VDB because developing film to a DR of 1.95 is way beyond what we normally do, even for other alternative processes such as carbon or straight palladium. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, in low contrast scenes it may be impossible, depending on the film.
Im in need of learning more about log, density, ES, et al. I had a meeting tonite for the Austin Alt Photo Group and spoke with Ed Buffaloe about alot of stuff (including the things that you are talking about Sandy - by the way he had wonderful things to say about you Sandy - much like the wealth of knowledge you so willing offer up - I look forward to meeting you in the future)
I would be out right lying if I said I had much knowledge or experience with the technicalities of all these sorts of things so will continue to be a sponge of read and experiment. All of my knowledge is quite new and fresh (havent been at this that long... and much less time than many here) most of my experience is based on visual observation, "this negative looks good and seems to visually have a good range of tones", "from my experience it will likely print well with van dyke browns" but nothing that is measurable or tangibly proved. so Ill have to delve into that sort of thing.
The main manner to measure whether Im reaching that 1.95 range is with a densitometer right sandy?
Using Ferric Citrate does work and the color change doesn't bother me much. However there are limitations to the effectiveness of the use of FC in my experience. I would reccomend experimenting with it if you want to keep printing VDBs. Ferric Citrate can be difficult to find, I purchased mine from Tri-Ess which is now out of business. B&S and Art Craft don't carry this product and when I ordered from Tri-Ess it took them a couple of weeks to fill my order since they had none in house.
Originally Posted by sanking
Actually I think your VDBs look pretty good. I think you are pretty close with your negative contrast. Since you are using 7x17 perhaps FP4 would be a good film to use. I've had great success with TMAX 400 processed in Pyro-Cat. I can make snappy VDB contact prints or enlarge onto silver gelatin with ease with this combination.
I would encourage you to continue to work with VDB befor jumping to Plt/Pld. You will learn a lot and save money.
I've also experimented with the bleach back technique as written by Wynn White and found that it doesn't provide repeatable results. It is very easy to over bleach and to produce prints that have too much contrast (using this technique on cyanotypes is also not very productive,IMO.) I would suggest using selenium toner - but very very dilute selenium toner. Perhaps 1:1000 dilution. This may give you some added snap to some of your marginal images.
Like many alt processes there can be many variations to achieve print nirvana!