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  1. #1

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    Dynamic Range of Tones with RC Paper Negatives

    Hi, I wanted to get some input from the community here.

    I went through the journey of making large format contact prints via RC paper negatives over the last couple of years. I found in my personal results that Ilford RC Grade 2 paper developed in a dilute Dektol gave me a vintage look that I was going for. Now, I want to move beyond the vintage look (dark shadows, narrow tonal range, occasional highlights blown out). I did find a method via flashing to tame the highlights.

    Now I would like to explore ways to expand the tonal range and so I am looking for ideas of how to do that. I assume this will likely be based on choice of developer, development dilution ratios, and time. I have a ton of Ilford RC Grade 2 paper, so I will be sticking with this choice for now. I understand that RC paper will never have the dynamic range of film, however I do think there are a variety of things that I can learn from others here about how to maximize the tonal range in these new negatives and subsequent prints. My plan is to print to any VC paper (RC or Fiber) that will enhance my ability to extend the tonal range. Any suggestions on paper is welcomed.

    Thanks in advance for sharing your experiences, knowledge, and thoughts.

  2. #2
    NedL's Avatar
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    This counts as "thoughts" and not experience or knowledge! I have not used fixed grade paper to make paper negatives.

    I think you could try: preflash the paper, then overexpose it by about 1-1/2 stops relative to a "normal" paper negative for you.
    Then, give the paper negative a good presoak, at least 2 or 3 minutes, being very careful to make sure it is placed on the water smoothly.
    ( one way is to hold opposite corners, then arc the paper and lay it down onto the water in a smooth motion that also will push any bubbles out of the way... it takes a little practice )

    Then take your dektol and dilute it 1:8 with very cold water. It may take 3 or 4 minutes before you start to see an image emerge, and development can take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. Pull it out when it looks about like "normal" density under your safelight. I think you will find a lower contrast and increased range.

    I have only done this with VC paper negatives, so I am not certain it will work for you, but it may be worth playing with to see if it gets you closer to what you want.

    Remember your graded paper is mostly blue and UV sensitive, so it is always going to have a "vintage" look because of that. I happen to think it is wonderful.

    Have fun!

  3. #3
    RalphLambrecht's Avatar
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    to increase the dynamic range of RC paper negatives use a light to medium yellow filter during exposure,which will eliminate the eed for flashingand stick to your diluted developer,all the best.
    Regards

    Ralph W. Lambrecht
    www.darkroomagic.comrorrlambrec@ymail.com[/URL]
    www.waybeyondmonochrome.com

  4. #4

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    I am tracking with your thoughts... I appreciate you sharing your ideas. I have been using Dektol at 1:9, but I will give the presoak and very cold water a try. This will be fun to see how it works out. I do have some RC VC paper that I could use, but I would prefer to use the many boxes of #2 paper that I have. I will give these suggestions a try. Thanks!

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    Ralph, that is an excellent idea! I will give this a try in my testing tomorrow.

  6. #6
    Maris's Avatar
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    My experience is that paper negatives using conventional photographic paper have an inherently limited dynamic range. Why? Because photographic paper is designed to render a positive seen by reflection. The limited amount of silver in photographic paper (compared to film base negatives) offers visual density because it gets two bites at the viewing light: once going in and again once again for light reflected back from the baryta or TiO2 layer. This does not work when paper is used in transmitted light only. Which doesn't mean you can make great photographs if you work within the limited dynamic range.
    Photography, the word itself, invented and defined by its author Sir John.F.W.Herschel, 14 March 1839 at the Royal Society, Somerset House, London. Quote "...Photography or the application of the Chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation,..". unquote.

  7. #7
    RalphLambrecht's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maris View Post
    My experience is that paper negatives using conventional photographic paper have an inherently limited dynamic range. Why? Because photographic paper is designed to render a positive seen by reflection. The limited amount of silver in photographic paper (compared to film base negatives) offers visual density because it gets two bites at the viewing light: once going in and again once again for light reflected back from the baryta or TiO2 layer. This does not work when paper is used in transmitted light only. Which doesn't mean you can make great photographs if you work within the limited dynamic range.
    That's not my experience.RC paper negatives have a similar density range tofilm and should yield similar image quality!
    Regards

    Ralph W. Lambrecht
    www.darkroomagic.comrorrlambrec@ymail.com[/URL]
    www.waybeyondmonochrome.com

  8. #8
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    I would think since paper contrast is high, the subject should have a limited subject brightness range.

    You could reduce any subject brightness range by adding fill light (flash or reflectors), or go out on foggy/rainy days.

  9. #9

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    Indeed, some of my best prints have been made via paper negatives. I love the simplicity of the process and the aesthetic that I get fits my style. Laying the RC negative on top of my paper and exposing it with a 40 watt bulb is all that is needed to create the print. For me, it is a bigger challenge to create the print that I want this way as opposed to my typical process via enlargement. It makes me more careful in the field and also expands my creative sense, hence the reason for my posting of this thread. I've already learned two things this evening and I am sure there are more ideas forthcoming. The collective knowledge here on APUG is nothing short of impressive. The trick is to harness the knowledge and experiment on your own. Tomorrow morning I will be trying the yellow filter along with the presoaking and cold water in my developer. I am sure more ideas are coming...


    Quote Originally Posted by RalphLambrecht View Post
    That's not my experience.RC paper negatives have a similar density range to film and should yield similar image quality!

  10. #10

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    Thanks Bill. I didn't mention this in my post, but I do landscapes, however if my genre were different, your idea of adding light in the scene is a good one. My goal in the next part of my journey is to get as much tonal range as possible via this RC paper negative medium. I have been playing around with xray films too and comparing the prints to see which I like best for my project. I am photographing lone winter trees and I want that old classic look of yesteryear, but the ability to keep some delicate clouds in the print. I will keep working through it until I find the right balance of tools and methods. Thanks again for your input.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Burk View Post
    I would think since paper contrast is high, the subject should have a limited subject brightness range.

    You could reduce any subject brightness range by adding fill light (flash or reflectors), or go out on foggy/rainy days.

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