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  1. #1

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    Test Strips with Platinum/Palladium

    Just curious how many alt printers use test strips to determine ideal exposure with developing-out platinum/palladium printing, vs. how many inspect the faint latent image for clues, vs. how many wing the first print and take it from there.

    -Paul

  2. #2
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    I wing the first print based on experience.

    If I don't hit it on the first, then I can usually hit it on the second. Sometimes I hit it on the first and get a great print -- I never get a test strip worth framing.
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  3. #3
    Ian Leake's Avatar
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    The early platinum printers used to inspect the undeveloped image because they exposed under sunlight which is inherently variable.

    There's no need to do this nowadays. It's much more effective to use an artificial light source. Then you can make your first print with a standard exposure time and contrast. If your negatives are fairly consistent then you should be able to nail it quite quickly, as Vaughn said.

    In my opinion test strips are pointless, but using a step wedge can help you to learn how your contrast agent changes things (not essential though, because with a bit of practice your eyes will tell you everything you need to know).

  4. #4

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    I use a densitometer to determine D-Max of neg (highlights with detail). Then compare it to other negs I've printed (keep notes). Combined with a split-back for checking the image during exposure, I can usually get close on 1st print.
    van Huyck Photo
    "Progress is only a direction, and it's often the wrong direction"

  5. #5

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    Thanks for the input. I too have been avoiding test strips in favor of starting with an educated guess based on past prints and working from there. I am getting better at it, but have a way to go yet. Glad to have my working methods validated by the experiences of three accomplished printers.

  6. #6

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    Just to stir the pot. I am starting as doughawk is but I only have 6 data points so far and ny Ideal negative is still all over the place. So I find test strips to be great to get me in the ballpark both with contrast and time. I have only done portraits and put a 4x5 over the face. 4 test strips to a palladium mix per 8x10 sheet.
    Regrds
    Bill
    "There are a great many things I am in doubt about at the moment, and I should consider myself favoured if you would kindly enlighten me. Signed, Doubtful, off to Canada." (BJP 1914).

    Regards
    Bill

  7. #7
    Ian Leake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowanw View Post
    Just to stir the pot. I am starting as doughawk is but I only have 6 data points so far and ny Ideal negative is still all over the place. So I find test strips to be great to get me in the ballpark both with contrast and time. I have only done portraits and put a 4x5 over the face. 4 test strips to a palladium mix per 8x10 sheet.
    Regrds
    Bill
    Using a standard printing time will help you here. The STP is the minimum exposure required to achieve maximum black through a developed unexposed negative (i.e. film base + fog).

    If your exposure is too long (and you're using a lot of palladium) then you will get solarisation; if it's too short then you'll lose shadow detail.

    Once you've worked out your STP (test strips or a step wedge make this easy) then you can immediately see if your negative is underexposed (lacks shadow detail), underdeveloped (highlights too dark), or overdeveloped (highlights too bright). You can then tune your process by adjusting your exposure and development until they are just as you want them.

    If your development really is "all over the place" then start with the Massive Dev Chart's N+1 time and work upwards.

  8. #8
    dpurdy's Avatar
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    I compare a new neg to an older printed neg by looking on a light box then I make a small print from an important area of the neg. I generally make a 4x5 test print for an 8x10 neg. I like to do it because it is fun to make small cropped images nicely brushed on the paper and use them for cards or little gifts. People love them. It can be a bit problematic with undoable divisions of the formula but usually there is a way.

  9. #9

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    I have found the step wedge to be a great help in choosing contrast grades.
    It is also helpful in figuring how many stops more I need to expose the Print.
    My all over the place negatives are really a trouble converting the book knowledge of large format and 4x5 experience to 8x10 cameras. Film developer and exposure testing as per the View Camera article didn't quite translate onto my studio portrait prints. More light and stronger development in an experimental empirical approach is getting me there. Also soft lenses need ?less exposure and more development for a given fstop than a sharp lens
    8x10 has its own learning curve, but its a lot of fun and I really enjoy plat/palladium.

    It did take the test strips, with the step wedge and part of the face in it, to help my really understand the theory. I just don't think they are "pointless" to the, new to the process, printer. "Tuning your process" and "working upward" might be where the quarter size test strips come in.

    It took my six different negatives of all different natures to really get me to the point I could say I understood Chapter 3 of Arentz. However I think, it is good for me to take a thin soft negative or a hard contrasty negative and force myself to understand what is to be done.
    and yes I have arrived in the direction of the N+1 development time empirically.
    and yes my std is about 200 units but just 2 stops extra is a whooping 800 units.
    and thanks for taking the time to reply in such a helpful way.
    "There are a great many things I am in doubt about at the moment, and I should consider myself favoured if you would kindly enlighten me. Signed, Doubtful, off to Canada." (BJP 1914).

    Regards
    Bill

  10. #10
    Ian Leake's Avatar
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    That's fair, and "pointless" was the wrong word to use - especially as I sometimes use them myself in specific circumstances.

    The wonderful thing is that there are lots of different ways to make a print. What's important is to know which tools are available to you, and when to use them.

    While some tools may cost more (or less) in terms of time and materials, that's only one factor in your choice of tool. What works for you, what you're comfortable with, and what works best within the constraints of your space and equipment are also important.

    Enjoy printing :-)

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