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  1. #11

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    To a large extent it depends on what you plan on doing with your prints. If you hope to market them with multiple copies nearly identical, then it would be important to ensure a good negative that's repeatable. If, however, you view them as fine art prints with each print having some individuality, then its important to get a negative that has all the information you need to work with. Then your darkroom skills and post-visualization will come into play. Personally, I like the challenge of a high contrast negative, for example. There are so many ways to interpret it.
    van Huyck Photo
    "Progress is only a direction, and it's often the wrong direction"

  2. #12

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    Contrary to what Ian Grant wrote, negatives printed as contact prints on silver chloride paper will always yield a finer print than the same negative printed on enlarging paper. If anyone seriously doubts that, send me a negative to print. I will print it on silver chloride paper. Then, send me your best print of that negative and we will compare prints. After I look at yours, I will send you my print.

    Cannot do this immediately as am in Iceland photographing, but think autumn. But if anyone is interested, let me know ASAP.

    Michael A. Smith

  3. #13
    Sirius Glass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Dozer View Post
    Hi Craig,

    I had all but given up on Silver printing and was concentrating on Platinum/Palladium and Cyanotype. I was never really satisfied in the results I was getting from my silver prints. "Why did everyone elses turn out better than mine?" That was what I was always asking myself. However, I took a 2 day one on one printing workshop from Per Volquartz here in California and it really opened my eyes to silver printing. Seeing how a master printer approaches his printing is an terrific learning experience. I suggest that there isn't anything wrong with your contact printing process (I too work in 8 x 10 and 8 x 20), the problem is that you might need to learn more about printing.

    What I learned from Per is that just about all of my images needed some dodging/burning and sometimes some bleaching to give them that "real look" that I wanted. With PT/PD and Cyanotype, I wasn't really needing to dodge and burn much because the process and materials was completely different from silver.

    Now I'm back to silver printing and loving it. I'm taking the lessons I learned from Per and using them in my contact printing, and my contact prints are much better. You should think of contact prints as more than just a quick shot at getting something that you can see what is in the negative. Try to make your contact prints with the same thinking as making final prints - that you really want them to look good.

    Now, California is obviously way to far away from Brisbane to consider working with Per, and the upcoming 2 weeks is not enough time to get into a workshop. However, I would still suggest that you check around your area and see if any "expert" printers either teach workshops or would consider working with you one on one in the darkroom.

    Assuming that you use variable contrast paper, I would also work at learning what the different filters can do for you. Do some research on split filter printing with two filters (one for shadows and one for highlights). Working with the different contrast filters has also helped me a lot in getting better prints.

    Hope this helps and good luck.

    Dan
    I took a one day printing course with Per. It was the best money I ever spent.

    Steve
    Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!

    Nothing beats a great piece of glass!

    I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.

  4. #14
    ghostcount's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sirius Glass View Post
    I took a one day printing course with Per. It was the best money I ever spent.

    Steve
    +1 - he's very easy to talk to and imparts a lot of knowledge.
    “I drank what?” - Socrates

  5. #15

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    I started using split grade printing this year and I agree with Dan. It has improved my printing tremendously. I now start off with a base exposure and selectively burn in areas that need more. I do very little dodging anymore. I haven't tried bleaching yet, but that will probably come later this year. Like you, I'm also using 8x10, but I hope to go up to 11x14 when I can afford it. Contacts from those would be amazing.
    Mike

  6. #16

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    Oct 2002
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael A. Smith View Post
    Using silver chloride contact printing paper will greatly improve the quality of any contact print.

    See www.michaelandpaula.com under "Azo" for all details and under "Writings" for my writing on the subject.

    One should be able to make 5 excellent contact prints in one hour if one knows what one is doing.

    Michael A. Smith
    I have taken Micheal's and Paula's workshop, and am now contact printing my 8x10 negatives exclusively on the new Lodima paper using Amidol developer. I would agree with Michael's statement; however, be aware that although the learning curve with Lodima and Amidol is relatively short, to expect to produce perfect prints in one hour might appear to be just a bit too optimistic! Good prints yes, but of course there is room for improvement that only time and "filling up the waste-basket" will provide. If you desire, please feel free to PM me for more information.

  7. #17
    c6h6o3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mahler_one View Post
    Good prints yes, but of course there is room for improvement that only time and "filling up the waste-basket" will provide. If you desire, please feel free to PM me for more information.
    The whole point of his 'outflanking' method of printing is to zero in on the optimal print for the negative you're working with without 'filling up the wastebasket'. If I can't get the best possible print (which is, after all, the only acceptable print) in about 6 sheets I'm not really following the method. Perhaps I can't really decide what I want. In any case I'll put that negative aside and print it some other day.

    It took me a while to learn to force myself to overshoot every time I make an adjustment in exposure time. But as Michael says, even though you're making a whole series of wrong prints, you'll use less paper in the long run compared to any other method.
    Jim

  8. #18

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    I was thinking today about the outflanking method & realized it was similar to binary searching, an efficient computing algorithm. I then wondered if Michael came to this intuitively or had some kind of math background :-)

  9. #19
    c6h6o3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JamesMorris View Post
    I was thinking today about the outflanking method & realized it was similar to binary searching, an efficient computing algorithm. I then wondered if Michael came to this intuitively or had some kind of math background :-)
    He was a pre-law major in college who got sidetracked by photography. Hence he never went to law school. Thank God.

    It took me about a year after the workshop to teach myself how to print well. Just buying the paper and some amidol clearly is not going to cut it if you want to make fine prints. I believe you need to be shown. Even then the best that a teacher can hope for is to impart whatever is necessary for the protégé to teach himself.
    Last edited by c6h6o3; 11-22-2010 at 10:46 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    Jim

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