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Thread: Unsharp masking

  1. #101

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    Re: Unsharp masking

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    As far as I know, Ctein is/was the last person to work with pan matrix film. It could be revived. But the more complicated method of generating color separations from chromes actually offers more options for controls. I don't know how many people still work in that mode worldwide. There is a couple doing it in Germany with new materials.
    Bettina Haneke uses (I recall) a high resolution filmsetting machine to output digital files - which reduces your material needs to just ortho matrix film, mordanted paper & the dyes. None of those are especially complicated to make. I'd guess that the prints are probably drastically less grainy than anything made from Super-XX separations.

    It's the potential for less grain, but still with the saturation control of dye transfer that attracts me to the idea of pan-matrix, however I'm now wondering about outputting QTR/Piezography digital negatives & using them to expose ortho matrix films too...

  2. #102
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Unsharp masking

    They use blue lasers to expose the matrices, but had to buy six machines so they wouldn't run out of replacement parts (one of the true limitations of digital hardware). Same with scanner gear. Plus a massive investment in custom film and paper coating, with lots and lots of trial and error behind it. Not simple by any means. Previously they used Efke matrix film made to Jim Browning's formula. I bought up the last of the Efke except for some leftovers in Germany. No time yet to do much with it except learn the basics. Jim B. is an elec engineer and designed his own 8X10 registered film recorder to make separation negs from film scans. I learned to do it completely analog, but have quite a bit of custom gear of my own. Andy Cross of the masking book also does it analog, I believe, even though he teaches digital technique.

  3. #103
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Unsharp masking

    You can go to Jim's DT site to see just how complicated a usable matrix film can be to prototype. He publishes the formula, and even Efke didn't get it quite right. Replicating a storable transfer paper like Kodak once offered requires a double coating with radioactive thorium. Therefore people mordant their own paper just prior to use. DT materials were one volume made by several different companies, not just Kodak. For separation film I use TMax 100, which actually works better than Super XX, and which, with very different exp & Dev is also superior to old pan masking film. Kodak knew what they were doing. Andy learned to make separations on FP4 and has stuck with it.

  4. #104

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    Re: Unsharp masking

    Unsharp Silver Masking. If you're making new negs or taking new images, it's an arcane subject that probably isn't worth mastering. There are myriad other ways to accomplish what film masks do, which basically is increase or decrease the contrast of the transparency or negative, globally. If OTOH you're trying to print traditionally using existing images, there may still be some place for it, but applying it now to actually solve a problem would a lot narrower as to what it once did arguably best.

    With Cibachrome/lfochrome gone by the boards and dye-transfer materials, too (and no one to my knowledge still making optical color seps to print these days), it does kinda sound like a solution in need of a problem.

    Nowadays you can typically scan the entire range of density within an original, or even combine two negs/slides (shooting one for highlights another for shadows). It's not only relatively easy-- almost trivial-- to do this combining in Photoshop, it's a heck of a lot less costly in time and materials, to do so digitally from the get go, and probably why no one is much doing USM in film anymore. (Incidentally, USM in Photoshop mostly came to be called Sharpening, but that's another matter.) You can also locally, precisely apply (and erase) the effects in PS which is really hard to do under the enlarger.

    Been almost 15 years since I've used traditional masking for difficult color slides even color negs. Some that wouldn't scan or print worth a darn any other way. Recalling one image where I took a measured 10 stops of density on a Kodachrome from highlight to shadow, and got the final print to look clean and great on CPM1M Ilfochrome (~4 stops of compression).

    The best material for making masks I know of is Pan Masking Film, by Kodak, and it's not been available for almost 25 years. I made my own punch system (enlarger film holder, and contact printer, too) but had available to me a full-on machine shop in which to make them. I kept copious notes on exposure and development times, tried different developers, etc. to arrive at what worked. Dust control is another subject unto itself and while rear it's head once you start adding more layers of film to print through.

  5. #105
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Unsharp masking

    You're welcome to your own arcane opinion. I happen to prefer a more complete tool kit. I have a 24mm wrench that I use only a few times a year. Why not just use a pair of Vise Grips or a pipe wrench, or Crescent wrench? - because something ends up looking not quite right! As far as materials go, I can make better masks any day of the week with current films than could be done with old "all toe" Pan Masking Film. It just takes the right developer. I admire your background, Ivan, but frankly, I don't want a digital wannabee technique. Real film just has that extra bit of authenticity and nuanced tonal control. I pulled some masked images out of the print washer just an hour ago. Photoshop is a step backwards.

  6. #106
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Unsharp masking

    Read some past posts on this thread and you'd discover dye transfer printing is still alive, and the necessary materials are still being made (though not by Kodak or for public use). Inkjet might be a commercial worklow improvement, to phrase it mildly; but it lacks a certain luxuriousness of color that both dye transfer and Ciba had. Now Fuji Supergloss can attain that Ciba look with less masking needed. I actually enjoy that kind of work. Other than a little web chit chat like this, I'm quite glad to be retired from the office slavery of computers.

  7. #107

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    Re: Unsharp masking

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    I'm quite glad to be retired from the office slavery of computers.
    +1



    I'm all day long in front of one

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