Contacting on VC
Greetings from Prague
I have recently been awarded a grant to photograph the district of Mala Strana. This was the neighborhood which Josef Sudek lived and had his studio. As it happens, I live one building over from Sudeks old studio, which has now been reconstructed and operates as a gallery.
I am going to be using a hybrid form of attaining the final results by shooting 4x5 pinhole with my modified linhof technika III > scanning the negs and working with them in photoshop and then making 11x14 digital negs for contact printing on silver gelatin. I would like to use a light source other than an enlarger...something simple... and I want to use VC enlarging papers.
I would appreciate any suggestions re: what the best set up for a light source might be...including some type of contrast filter gel holder...like to build it all by hand other than the contact frame...I'm working on getting permission to do the printing in reconstructed darkroom in the Sudek studio which is very tiny space....experience with VC papers/developer combinations also welcome.
Sorry for mentioning digital and photoshop and scanning all in the same post...
Get a set of Ilfords 6x6 inch VC filters, more likely to be able to cover the front of a lamphousing than a smaller set. Make a drawer for it with a plexiglas bottom to lay the gelatin filter in, and a bracket to slide the set in place under the lamphouse.
I do a lot of contact printing on Azo (using a 175 watt bulb in a round reflector hanging about three feet above my printing frame). Just for fun, I picked up a cheap pack of VC fiber paper and a 7.5 watt lightbulb. At about 4.5 feet from the frame, I'm getting very reasonable printing times. I haven't picked up a set of gels yet, so I'm effectively printing everything at grade 2, but the setup definately works. (And the results are pretty darned amazing.) My intent is to pick up a set of 6x6 gels and use them as described above. Good luck with your project.
Film is cheap. Opportunities are priceless.
I suppose you could use the gels used for lighting systems to cover the whole print.
If you use a lens to project the light, you could use the Ilford under-lens filters.
Have you thought of using an 11x14 pinhole camera directly rather than all that mucking about with computers? It would not be difficult to build such a beast - even the film holders do not need to be precision built as it's a pinhole camera. You would loose all the computer editing capabilities of course, but it might be all the more interesting for that!
In any event, good luck with your project.
I think the 11x14 pinhole idea is great. VC filters don't work too well with digital negs (see Burkholder), so you can save money and just use a lightbulb and graded papers.
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When you consider contact printing onto VC paper, it is important to consider the color of the light source that you are using for exposure. If you are using a tungsten light bulb the contrast grade of the paper will be different then if you are exposing with a halogen light, for instance. The tungsten will emit more yellow then halogen...hence it would require a negative with a greater density range (contrast) then a halogen lamp. Other lamps would provide differing print contrasts. If I were going to expose VC materials with a tungsten lamp then I would increase the blue filtration to offset the reduction in contrast.
Not having experience, nor wanting any for that matter, with digitally produced negatives...I do not understand why a digital negative would print any differently then a film negative produced with a non staining developer.
We are after all concerned with the transmission of a given color light through a medium of variable density. I think that applies to all negatives.
Not to mention, if you are going to be going the digital negative route, you should be doing your contrast adjustments in PS and calibrating your system to whatever grade of paper you are using. Stick with one grade paper.
Originally Posted by Jon
If one is going to use VC paper and digital negatives the best approach would be to used an enlarger as the light source so the lowest grade filter can be used. That is the only one you should use as all of the contrast adjustment is made on the digital negative. Additonally the same printing time should be used all of the time.
Originally Posted by glbeas
Digital negatives allow a lot of control but the method of printing them onto silver gelatin is much different than a normal in camera negative.
One should plan on spending a fair amount of time to calibrate a system for printing digital negatives. I highly recommend Mark Nelson's book, Precision Digital Negatives, but also get Dan Burkholder's second edition as it has information relating to digital editing that isn't found in MArk's book. I will say that Mark's digital workflow is very sound and efficient.
Plan to spend a fair amount of time mastering digital negative creation and printing especially if you aren't up to speed with PhotoShop. And speaking of PhotoShop, if you can swing it use PS CS, a.k.a. PS 8. It allows 16 bit levels and curves adjustment layers which is wonderful for perserving image data and preventing image data.
On the other hand making traditonal analog enlarged negatives may be easier, quicker, and cheaper if PhotoShop and digital imaging really isn't your forte.
Thanks folks for the responses...I will be doing some thinking based upon what has been shared here...I have to agree that the 11x14 pinhole camera is the most sensible approach, but I really dont want o hump around a rig like that and my linhoff is very managable and I built it custom to for the work that I do....I could always just do straight enlarging from my 4x5 negs, but I wanted to attempt contact printing as it is what Sudek did for most of the latter part of his work...and 4x5 prints arent suitable for the end result.
I think BMAC is right as well... as if I actually do end up making digital negs, it makes far more sene to set the curves and levels in photoshop to suit the grade of paper I am wanting to print on...it seems correct that graded papers are the way to go, for a number of reasons also mentioned in other posts here.
Thanks all for the comments so far...
Nelson vs. Burkholder
Can anybody here tell me if there are any significant differences or advantages to Mark Nelson's vs. Dan Burkholder's methods for making enlarged negs for contact printing...I know this isnt analog but the shooting and printing will be for sure. Both methods seem to have a large fanbase..for those making enlarged negs from imagefiles.