There seems to be a lot of interest in making enlarged negatives for contact printing on Azo or for alt-processes, and much discussion of digital enlarged negatives. While Photoshop offers many creative possibilities for enlarged negatives, I get the sense that some people aren't really aware of the possibility and attractions of making traditional enlarged negatives, and it would be good if the folks on APUG who do this or who have done it in the past can share some wisdom and experience here.
There are a few basic approaches.
One is to make an interpositive with an enlarger or large format camera using a low contrast copy film or a relatively neutral film like T-Max 100, and then contact print the interpositive to the same or a similar film to make the enlarged internegative. This method only requires an enlarger, a method of contact printing, and trays or tubes to develop the film.
I believe that Weston's method was to dupe his 3x4 negs using the 8x10" camera and then contact print the interpositive to film to make the interneg, and then contact print the interneg to silver chloride paper. Of course if you don't have an 8x10" camera or you want a larger final print, then you use an enlarger, which gives you more flexibility in terms of final print size.
Another technique, if you have a sufficiently large camera, is to make a regular enlargement--applying all the printing controls at your disposal, and then dupe the print with a large format camera of the format you want to contact print.
Either the interpositive or internegative or original negative can be retouched or masked for contrast or sharpness along the way, so this process offers a lot of control.
Another possibility, which Mortenson and some of the Pictorialists used, and is really easy for most people who already do their own darkroom work, is to make paper interpositive and internegatives. One of the particular attractions of this method is that you can easily retouch the back of the interneg or interpositive on a light table using soft lead pencil or charcoal or a drafting pen for sharp lines, etc. Apply pencil to the interneg to push up highlights and to the interpos to deepen shadows. Neat, eh?
quoteavid A. Goldfarb
Another possibility, which Mortenson and some of the Pictorialists used, and is really easy for most people who already do their own darkroom work, is to make paper interpositive and internegatives. One of the particular attractions of this method is that you can easily retouch the back of the interneg or interpositive on a light table using soft lead pencil or charcoal or a drafting pen for sharp lines, etc. Apply pencil to the interneg to push up highlights and to the interpos to deepen shadows. Neat, eh?[/quote]
You can also retouch negatives to build up density in thin highlights in much the same way, it's known as Dye Dodging.
You tape the original negative to an unexposed but cleared piece of film of the same size and using dyes, re touch the clear film in the thin highlights. With modern materials you have the choice of using magenta or blue dyes to help increase the contrast.
Thank you for your timely and meaningful post. Yes I agree that making enlarged negatives with materials already on hand is a viable alternative to the digital route. I have done the process using conventional panchromatic 100 ISO film as an interpositive and then enlarging that interpositive onto lithographic film. Lith film is very inexpensive. Freestyle and Photo Warehouse both handle lith film in various sizes. Some of them quite large.
The method that I described is certainly inexpensive since it involves conventional film only in the interpositive stage. Since it is contact printed with the original camera negative at the interpositive stage the cost of materials is certainly minimal. The wonderful thing about lith film is that it doesn't exhibit grain in the same manner as conventional pan film.
You are correct, David, in the amount of control one has in this process or in the process that you described using paper interpositives. I don't know that enlarged negatives have more control then digital. However I have not encountered a situation that I did not have sufficient control to accomplish the task that I wanted to accomplish.
The benefit for me is the same benefit that I experience throughout all of my wet darkroom experience. That is that I am doing something that involves direct physical involvement to produce an image aligned with my desired objective.
For those interested in doing any of the methods described, there are excellent resources on Ed Buffaloes site www.unblinkingeye.com
I believe the author of the article that I am thinking was Mr. Bob Herbst. Examples are shown of Mr. Herbst's results using the method using lith film. Also I believe that there is another article that describes a direct negative to negative process.
I have also found resources by doing a google search on platinum printing. There are a couple of photographers that use enlarged negatives and the last that I checked they were freely sharing their procedures with us. I'm sorry but their names escape me at the moment.
Once again, David, thank you.Good luck to any and all that choose this means of expression.
I am a total newbie to this (haven't even read much about it) and am wondering what are the advantages of an enlarged negative.
I understand about being able to contact print on AZO and do some dye dodging and masking on the negative etc. but doesn't an enlarged negative lose as much tonality and sharpness/acuteness as an enlarged print? Or does some magic happen that eliminates the normal enlarger effects?
Dmin=(barely visible and in a fog)
I think this is an excellent subject, and often wish there were a forum dedicated to just this subject. Have not attempted to do any type of enlarged negative, but hope to do so after I have completed some additional task I have set up for myself.
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Originally Posted by BobF
The advantages to doing an enlarged negative are that one can adjust the contrast to match the material that you are printing on in addition to the other controls that you mentioned. If one uses a lith film for the enlarged negative, then the enlarged negative will not evidence the grain that would normally occur if one were strictly enlarging a negative onto the printing paper. The reason that this is true is that lith film does not exhibit the grain that conventional pan films do. Considering that the first generation of this process occurs by contact printing the camera negative onto 100 speed pan film actually would tend to diminish grain from the grain that a 400 speed camera negative would exhibit (for instance).
Using this procedure one could take a 4X5 inch camera negative having a density range of 1.10 for instance (for conventional enlarging with condensor enlarger) and increase it to a 20X24 inch negative with a density range of 1.60 (for contact printing on grade two Azo or pt-pd) with no increase in grain in the process. The primary limiting factors are the resolving abilities of the original film, the taking lens, and the enlarging lens.
Hope that this answers your questions. Good luck.
I have enlarged hundreds of negatives. My first step is to enlarge either the 35mm or the medium format onto a a 4x5 interpositive. To do this you need to make a very flat contrast negative. I use lith film in an old 4x5 film holder taped to the baseboard and do it right in the darkroom with safelights on. You should use red safelights, but I used with no problems yellow safelights. But just like paper you need to make a test strip of the interpositive to see what times give you the density you are looking for. I do not have a densitometer, so I go by look. I will post the pic of a contact 4x5 test strip in the non photo gallery. The development of the film is done in the regular chemistry I use for making prints. I also found that to get the flattest, nicest interpositives, nearly exhausted developer works best. I process for 1 minute. But this is not a hard and fast rule. Sometimes it takes a bit more time, sometimes a bit less. The nice thing with the safe ligths, is you can watch it develop. Once I have established the correct time for the interpositive, I then do the full sized interpositive. What is fun about that is you get to see the film look like it would if it were a picture. It shows you all the flaws and such. From there I make an 8x10 negative using the lith film processed the same way. But instead of a full sized test strip, I cut the film down into three pieces to make the test strip. The 8x10 negative needs to be of a high contrast. The exact opposite of the interpositive. I can also at this stage if I stop the lens down, I can add time to the exposure and if need be do a bit of minor burning or dodging. I will also post a interpositive in the non picture gallery.
This is just my steps in making an enlarged negative. I didn't put in any of the things I do to make the image flat or such.
Ditto for me. This is another thing I've wanted to try since going LF. My main cancern, other than film and developers for the internegs, was with grain, particularly from 35mm. Thanks for starting this David.
Originally Posted by BobF
So, what is used to develop lith film?
I use dektol. Also the film shots I loaded into the gallery are from 35mm negs.
There is a lot to digest here. I can already imagine a lot of possibilities and would like to also thank David for the subject.
Don, I guess I'll just have to experience that effect for myself to really believe it as it is just counter intuitive that second and third generation enlarged copies can maintain tone gradations and detail. Not questioning your veracity, it's just hard to accept.
But the first question is why Dektol Aggie? Is that a recommended lith film developer or just your preference from experience?