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    2Bugles's Avatar
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    Better Process for Portraits

    I've been investigating different alt. processes for portraiture. I'm looking for smooth, long-tones, somewhat soft. Platinum/palladium is attractive but what about carbon?

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    Jim Fitzgerald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2Bugles View Post
    I've been investigating different alt. processes for portraiture. I'm looking for smooth, long-tones, somewhat soft. Platinum/palladium is attractive but what about carbon?
    Carbon can be difficult to get smooth highlight tones to look good. From my experience an image with texture and detail works the best. You can get portraits to look good but it requires a lot of work and patients. You routine has to be perfect. I'm working on it and success is a ways off.

    Jim

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    dpurdy's Avatar
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    I did a portrait job of all the family members of a family that could afford it on 8x10 printed in platinum. The Parents are pretty old, the kids being grown and on their own. I shot them individually on 8x10 with a very sharp lens and when I looked at the silver RC proofs I thought, no way. Too harsh and wrinkly, the old mom will never like it. When I printed them on platinum though, the loss of resolution you get from the solution soaking into the paper fibers was the perfect softener. Both the mom and the dad got smoothed just enough to make them look really good and they absolutely loved the prints.

    Even if you were happy to print in silver though, shooting portraits LF is difficult and expensive.

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    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Shooting LF may be challenging, it may be not for the budget minded, but as far as I'm concerned, it is the best medium for doing portraits, especially if you happen to have a good portrait lens. Platinum/palladium and their variants are an excellent choice because of the long tonal scale. You could also look into salt prints, which have lower resolution than platinum, and an even longer tonal scale. The downside is that you'll have to learn to make negatives for salt prints, which means even more overdevelopment than you would use for platinum, relative to development for silver gelatin printing.

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    Jim Noel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    Shooting LF may be challenging, it may be not for the budget minded, but as far as I'm concerned, it is the best medium for doing portraits, especially if you happen to have a good portrait lens. Platinum/palladium and their variants are an excellent choice because of the long tonal scale. You could also look into salt prints, which have lower resolution than platinum, and an even longer tonal scale. The downside is that you'll have to learn to make negatives for salt prints, which means even more overdevelopment than you would use for platinum, relative to development for silver gelatin printing.
    A properly made salt print on appropriate paper can have as good resolution as Pt/Pd. I regularly use both processes. I have some made from paper negatives from the 1840's which have amazing resolution.
    [FONT=Comic Sans MS]Films NOT Dead - Just getting fixed![/FONT]

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    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Jim- lower resolution is probably a misnomer. Salt prints I think can look a little "softer" than platinum. That may be an opinion formed from not having seen enough salt prints.

    I should have said that I disagree with the assertion that platinum has a lower resolution than silver gelatin. Frankly, unless you're printing on a highly textured paper or not on paper at all, I don't think there is a print resolution issue regardless of the medium. Your negative is going to have a much greater influence on image sharpness and resolution than is your printing emulsion.

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    dpurdy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    J

    I should have said that I disagree with the assertion that platinum has a lower resolution than silver gelatin. Frankly, unless you're printing on a highly textured paper or not on paper at all, I don't think there is a print resolution issue regardless of the medium. Your negative is going to have a much greater influence on image sharpness and resolution than is your printing emulsion.
    Surely you jest.
    Dennis

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    df cardwell's Avatar
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    "I'm looking for smooth, long-tones, somewhat soft"

    Develop a suitable film properly, and you can get that easily on silver paper.
    TMY is a good place to start. Print with Selectol-Soft or LPD instead of a super contrasty developer like Dektol.

    One of the reasons folks get such good results with Palladium/Platinum & Carbon is that it is so expensive that we are careful with our negatives ! Silver or Alt, make the proper negative, get the results you want. Some careful workers print silver and palladium from the same negs.

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    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpurdy View Post
    Surely you jest.
    Dennis
    Whatever.

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    2Bugles's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the replies. I'm going to continue to make silver prints for awhile, I've not reach the end of my learning yet. My idea for using alternative process is to be able to differentiate my prints from most of the others (digital or traditional silver) and hopefully interest clients in my work. While everyone here in small-city Georgia is doing digital and some silver, almost no one is doing the old printing techniques even though I live in a college town with a huge art school.

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