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  1. #1
    pellicle's Avatar
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    what is a good negative?

    Hi

    I've been trying to contact print a negative (which I think is a reasonable negative) without success. Since its hard to "see" my negative I've put a 'no curves' linear scan of it here.




    I placed it on the glass of the scanner and you can just make out the edge of white. I know that not everyone here is comfortable with examining a negative this way, but I know of no other way to show what I'm starting with.

    So, when I try to print it, I establish an exposure to make the border of the negative barely visible (the minimum time to maximum black) but then when trying to render a nice white I can't.

    I've tried to print via a range of MG filters (1 through to 5) I can not seem to get the image to be a pleasing print (such as the image below) and still keep the borders black.



    this image is made by simply setting the appropriate black and white levels from the inverted negative scan above.

    Perhaps I don't really need to make nice contact prints from my 4x5 negatives, but i'd like to understand why I might not be able to make them.

    Can anyone tell me if this is perhaps because I'm making my negatives with scanning in mind and thus optimizing my tonal range recording for that? Certainly the negatives don't press the boundaries of my scanner. Pehaps they press that of paper?

    Can anyone perhaps scan a negative which prints well in the manner I have done above so as to give me some ideas as to the density ranges of a good paper wet process printable negative?

    thanks
    Theory: you understand why it should work but it doesn't
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  2. #2
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    It sounds like you need a contrastier negative for contact printing on the paper you are using. In general, you can extend your development times. For this negative you can intensify it. I like to intensify in Kodak Rapid Selenium Toner, 1+3 for about 8 minutes to get about a one zone increase in contrast. For more, you might look into other kinds of intensifiers or bleach and redevelop methods.

    That said, when I'm printing on VC paper, I usually expose for the white and adjust the contrast for the black. You might try that and see if that gives you a result that you like better. It might not give you maximum black for the paper, but maybe in this image the highlights are more important, and you'll have enough black that you'll be satisfied.
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  3. #3
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    It depends how you exposed your negative how the blacks are going to look in your print. The old adage of exposing for the shadows and developing by the highlights really works.
    If you find you have enough shadow detail in your negs when you print to maximum black through the film base, then adjust the development time until you have highlights that print with zing. If you're not happy, you did something wrong.

    I would do a test. Expose a set of negatives at +2, +1, normal, and -1 stops of the ISO of the film. Develop them all according to your standard time. Then print them all until you print through the film base to be black, and judge the shadows in the print area. Pick the one that looks best.
    Now expose a set of negs according to that exposure index, and develop them at different times. Say that the first neg you liked for its shadow didn't have enough contrast, you could try adding 10-15% and keep doing so until you have a negative that you find prints well in both shadows and highlights. Your midtones should fall into place as you do this too.
    If there's too much contrast to begin with, decrease development in increments until you hit the sweet spot.

    A good negative is one that gets you a print that you are happy with. Throw rules out. Figure out what you like and keep doing it your own way for the greatest reward.

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  4. #4
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb View Post
    It sounds like you need a contrastier negative for contact printing on the paper you are using. In general, you can extend your development times. For this negative you can intensify it. I like to intensify in Kodak Rapid Selenium Toner, 1+3 for about 8 minutes to get about a one zone increase in contrast. For more, you might look into other kinds of intensifiers or bleach and redevelop methods.

    That said, when I'm printing on VC paper, I usually expose for the white and adjust the contrast for the black. You might try that and see if that gives you a result that you like better. It might not give you maximum black for the paper, but maybe in this image the highlights are more important, and you'll have enough black that you'll be satisfied.
    Yeah, yeah, what he said.

    My first suggestion would be to stop trying to print by formula. Who cares if you don't get the borders of the pic to BLACK black. Worry about what is actually in the pic.

    You should be able to get a print with one of those filters you tried, however; selenium or not. I can't really tell from a scan, but I would say that you should be able to do it on a 4 filter.
    2F/2F

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  5. #5
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    A good negative is one that allows you to re-interpret the image in the darkroom, or put simply print it any way you want.

    In this case from your description &b scans it's just under developed. As David says intensify in strong Selenium toner, there are more conventional ways in books but this work very well

    You need to read up on the Zone System & speed tests etc Steve Simmonds has very good article in the free download section of the View Camera website.

    Ian

  6. #6
    Robert Hall's Avatar
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    If you can, you might consider bracketing shots like this. I might, especially with 4x5, shoot 3 film holders with the same exposure on each side. Develop one of each for a normal amount of time, then try developing the next one a little longer. I don't do quite so many shots now as I used to but still do at times with tricky exposures.

    When in low contrast situations it might be a good idea to shoot the film as if it were just a little faster than stated, then develop longer than you normally would. This would increase the contrast. However what I see in the image is more or less what I would expect to see in real life. Of course this may not be what you are looking for in the final print. But you will have to do some leg work to get the print results you want from your exposures.

    Another idea is to use a yellow filter. This reduces some of the blue light which is quite prevalent on days like this. And nothing will help more than having good and consistent darkroom practice. (Such as patience)

    Best of luck,
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  7. #7
    Ole
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    A good negative is one that gives a good tonality on G2 fixed-grade paper. It may still be a real b*st*rd to print, but at least the tonality is good.

    Of course, this is my opinion and only my opinion. But my experience is that if it doesn't look right on G2, it never will.
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
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  8. #8
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Hall View Post
    If you can, you might consider bracketing shots like this. I might, especially with 4x5, shoot 3 film holders with the same exposure on each side. Develop one of each for a normal amount of time, then try developing the next one a little longer. I don't do quite so many shots now as I used to but still do at times with tricky exposures.

    When in low contrast situations it might be a good idea to shoot the film as if it were just a little faster than stated, then develop longer than you normally would. This would increase the contrast. However what I see in the image is more or less what I would expect to see in real life. Of course this may not be what you are looking for in the final print. But you will have to do some leg work to get the print results you want from your exposures.

    Another idea is to use a yellow filter. This reduces some of the blue light which is quite prevalent on days like this. And nothing will help more than having good and consistent darkroom practice. (Such as patience)

    Best of luck,
    Yes, indeed. If feasible, this is an excellent practice; especially when you are not using a highly tested and controlled process. When not pinching pennies or restricted with a limited film supply, I dedicate one whole holder, front and back, to a shot, usually with identical exposures. I develop one and hold one until after I have proofed and/or tried to print the first one. This is really bracketing development, not exposures. It is time consuming and wasteful of materials, but can be a big help. At the very worst, your original shot ends up developed perfectly, and you can experiment with the other one, or develop it the same way as a copy.

    This is also good practice because sheet film is more damage, dust, light leak, and user error prone than roll film, so if something happens to the first one, you have one more shot at it.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 12-09-2008 at 05:38 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

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  9. #9

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    hi pellicle

    have you tried split filter printing?
    one thing that has really worked with me,
    when i am printing on VC paper is making 2 exposures
    one with your #5 filter, and one with your #0 .
    it may sound kind of strange to do this, but make a test strip
    and find your time for your "contrast" filter ...
    and one for your "de-contrast" filter ...
    make an exposure with one, and then the other
    .. burning and dodging as necessary.
    it is a fun and easy way to get great prints out of negatives that
    may give you a little bit of difficulty as a straight print.

    les mclean has a great article on his website on doing this ...

    good luck!

    john
    im empty, good luck

  10. #10
    pellicle's Avatar
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    Hi

    folks, thanks for the suggestions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Hall View Post
    And nothing will help more than having good and consistent darkroom practice. (Such as patience)


    (assuming you'd read the comments on the flickr page) I know ... but you see I'd just bought these new darkslides. They were a more ancient breed of Lisco's than I'd ever seen. The last straw was that this bloody sheet didn't want to come out of the holder. They don't have the recess ground into the alloy partition sheet in the middle to get your fingernail under and it had simply stuck to the base.

    but I've got a strategy now ...
    Theory: you understand why it should work but it doesn't
    Practice: it works but you have no idea how
    Here theory and practice meet, things don't work and I don't know why
    Homepages: here Blog: here

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