Quote Originally Posted by L Gebhardt
Could someone explain the advantage of split-grade printing to me. I am failing to see how the end result could be much different from using the intermediate filters - though possibly with finer control.

I have an Ilford VC head, which has two light sources. Whe you select a contrast setting the head varies the output to the hard and the soft light. This should be the same as making two separate exposures with one hard and one soft. How is split grade different than this?

With traditional filters I assume the filters effectively do the same thing, but by subtracting light.
In theory a single exposure would appear to be the same as two exposures using soft and hard filtration but in practice there is a significant difference, IMO. Giving two separate exposures allows you to dodge during one or both thus giving better local contrast control. For example, when the negative has "thin" areas the best way to introduce contrast and good separarion is to use harder paper grades. Split grade printing allows you to dodge out all or part of the soft exposure without affecting the remainder of the print. You cannot do this with a single filtration exposure. The same principle applies to burning in.

I have taught split grade printing in colleges and at workshops for many years and have found that students can generally make good prints quicker and with less wastage of materials once they learn to control the method.