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IanBarber
22-Sep-2018, 12:16
I appreciate this question probably has many answers all of which may be right but I am interested in reading how the more experienced darkroom printers work.

Scenario.
White Flowers against a dark textured background still life.

Using no filters in the diffusion enlarger (white light), I established the shortest time (15seconds) for the blacks with detail. Having found this time, the whites in the flowers looked a little grey to me.

Apart from careful dodging (which I am not that good at just yet) during the base exposure which is only 15 seconds, how would you get the whites back into the flowers. I do own a set of Ilford MG contrast filters and I am printing on to Ilford MG RC Pearl paper.

Ian

Pere Casals
22-Sep-2018, 12:49
Ian, you have to increase contrast, first try with filter 3 to 3.5.

Exposure time for filters 00-3.5 is the same; that for filters 4-5 is double.

After some tests I'd recommend you start using split grade printing, this is making two exposures, one with 0 or 00 filter, and the other with 5 filter. Depending on in you expose more time with the 5 or the 00 the print will have more or less contrast, but then you have the chance to burn or to dodge certain areas while you have inserted the 00 ot the 5 filter, so you have local contrast contral, added to local exposure control.

For split grade printing when you shorten 1s the exposure with the 00 filter then you extend 2 seconds the exposure with the 5 filter, because the 4, 4.5 and 5 filters require 2x more time...

I'm happy that you engage wet printing, that's a nice trip. It would take a while until you get powerful results, but this is something that will make you a better photographer, because you will think in the print when you are adjusting a shooting, IMHO.

LabRat
22-Sep-2018, 12:51
OK, this goes back to basic exposure control...

When spot metering, you get a reading for the dark background, and then you meter the brightest area for your highlight... You decide if this will fit your established range you tested for the # of stops that will read on the neg & print on your normal #2 paper... Does this range fit???

For now another control kicks in, where you can alter contrast, but at the price of having the darks too dark or lights too light...

The present solution is to slightly increase the contrast (with your MG filters) where both ends of the scale will record with (at least) some detail...


This will lighten your whites, but the dark background will be an endangered species...

Good Luck!!

Steve K

IanBarber
22-Sep-2018, 12:53
Yo have to increase contrast, first try with filter 3 to 3.5.

Exposure time for filters 00-3.5 is the same; that for filters 4-5 is double.

After some tests I'd recommend you start using split grade printing, this is making two exposures, one with 0 or 00 filter, and the other with 5 filter. Depending on in you expose more time with the 5 or the 00 the print will have more or less contrast, but then you have the chance to burn or to dodge certain areas while you have inserted the 00 ot the 5 filter, so you have local contrast contral, added to local exposure control.

For split grade printing when you shorten 1s the exposure with the 00 filter then you extend 2 seconds the exposure with the 5 filter, because the 4, 4.5 and 5 filters require 2x more time...

So are you saying that I would be better to start with a filter in place rather than just white light

Pere Casals
22-Sep-2018, 12:55
So are you saying that I would be better to start with a filter in place rather than just white light

Yes, start with the 2.5, the middle one, because if you change the filter you will know the base exposure, that would be the same until 3.5, and twice beyond it...

IanBarber
22-Sep-2018, 12:57
Yes, start with the 2.5, the middle one, because if you change the filter you will know the base exposure.

Thank You

Pere Casals
22-Sep-2018, 13:52
Well, for a "regular" negative if you start with 2 or 2.5 depends on if you have a condenser or difuser enlarger, on how you cook the negatives, your personal preference. As you get used you may decide starting with 1.5 or 3 by just taking a look to the negative.

Or even you can find the exact grade you would like with a densitometer, with an exposimeter or after analyzing an scan...

It's about starting... and then refining, learning and practicing. This is not as straight as Photoshop, but IMHO it's very rewarding obtaining a sound print by optical means.

Eric Woodbury
22-Sep-2018, 14:12
Ian, 'expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights' is for making a negative. Printing a negative to make is positive is opposite. Expose for the highlights, control contrast for your shadows.

Sometimes hard when you need contrast in both the ends and there are no middle tones. Other handy tools for this are split printing (as noted), flashing, local bleaching, dodging with a mask or crocein scarlet.

Also mentioned, practice, practice, practice. Same as Carnegie Hall.

IanBarber
22-Sep-2018, 14:20
Ian, 'expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights' is for making a negative. Printing a negative to make is positive is opposite. Expose for the highlights, control contrast for your shadows.

Sometimes hard when you need contrast in both the ends and there are no middle tones. Other handy tools for this are split printing (as noted), flashing, local bleaching, dodging with a mask or crocein scarlet.

Also mentioned, practice, practice, practice. Same as Carnegie Hall.

Ah.... it looks as though I was doing it the wrong way round Eric. Thanks

Mamu
22-Sep-2018, 14:36
Ian, you have to increase contrast, first try with filter 3 to 3.5.

Exposure time for filters 00-3.5 is the same; that for filters 4-5 is double.

After some tests I'd recommend you start using split grade printing, this is making two exposures, one with 0 or 00 filter, and the other with 5 filter. Depending on in you expose more time with the 5 or the 00 the print will have more or less contrast, but then you have the chance to burn or to dodge certain areas while you have inserted the 00 ot the 5 filter, so you have local contrast contral, added to local exposure control.

For split grade printing when you shorten 1s the exposure with the 00 filter then you extend 2 seconds the exposure with the 5 filter, because the 4, 4.5 and 5 filters require 2x more time...

I'm happy that you engage wet printing, that's a nice trip. It would take a while until you get powerful results, but this is something that will make you a better photographer, because you will think in the print when you are adjusting a shooting, IMHO.

If the split contrast concept is not yet within your grasp, just start with the 3.5 (I'd say 3 but your neg sounds like it's a little flat...as the commenter above was explaining, that can be fixed...but one thing at a time). Stop the lens all the way down and then open up about two stops or so. If you train your eyes, you will eventually be able to stop down to a relatively consistent level and have more consistent exposure times with your negs even if the exposure of the neg varies. When you learn burning and dodging, that consistency can really help. When you do your test, see where you get highlight detail. Make a second strip if you have to and get a look at the shadows at that exposure to determine how much you need to dodge them. Dodge a bit more than you think you'll need the first time. You can waste a lot of paper by "creeping" to the right amount but never quite getting there. I think that might be the best way for you to approach this neg. Once you get a bit more comfortable, you'll definitely want to use split contrast printing and even variable contrasts for burning or dodging. Before we had contrast emulsions, we had fixed grade paper and had to get the best possible image through burning and dodging. If you really like the wet darkroom as a learning experience, you might want to stick with it. "Better living through chemistry," as we use to say. Good Luck!

IanBarber
22-Sep-2018, 14:44
you'll definitely want to use split contrast printing and even variable contrasts for burning or dodging. Before we had contrast emulsions, we had fixed grade paper and had to get the best possible image through burning and dodging. If you really like the wet darkroom as a learning experience, you might want to stick with it. "Better living through chemistry," as we use to say. Good Luck!

I have been reading and in some cases experimenting with this dodging and burning using filters. Where I seem to get confused is knowing which end of the filter scale to use for both dodging and burning. Take my white flower for example. Once I have the whites where I want them but feel I could get more detail out of the petals, would I reach for a low contrast or high contrast filter to start burning.

ic-racer
22-Sep-2018, 14:50
I'm not sure about the 'no-filter' exposure. I can't think of any time one would do that, unless one was doing proofs or something or did not have any filters. If making a fine print, the information gleaned from the no-filter print in terms of contrast or exposure leaves one 'in the dark' as they say.

There are a hundred ways to work up a print...but...

Before any printing to perfection can take place, the negative has to be printable. If not, no matter what you do it will not look right.

Printable negatives are most frequently those with enough detail (as measured by sensitometery) such that the visible shadows in the print have a density that is 0.3 times the gamma to which the film is processed. If that condition is not satisfied, the novice printer will likely have an unsatisfactory print. To obtain the pre-requisite shadow density one can follow a thousand exposure techniques; some of which will yield the correct negative and some of which will yield a poor, or unprintable negative.

I believe there are thee ways to determine if you have a printable negative; none of which are 'easy.'

1) If you know the gamma to which the original negative was processed, or if you can process a control strip exposed to an identical sheet of film with identical development to get the gamma, you can measure the shadows with a sensitometer and see if it meets Jones' criteria above.
2) You can try printing it with everything you have at your disposal, any grade or type of paper or enlarger light source type or developer type and dilution until you get the best print.
3) After years of experience printing one could just look at the negative on the light table and know if it will make an excellent print

BTW if you do #2 enough times, you get to #3 :)
Most people need to be at #3 before they can understand what #1 means. In which case they don't need #1 ;)

182703

IanBarber
22-Sep-2018, 14:54
I'm not sure about the 'no-filter' exposure. I can't think of any time one would do that, unless one was doing proofs or something or did not have any filters. If making a fine print, the information gleaned from the no-filter print in terms of contrast or exposure leaves one 'in the dark' as they say.

I ought to have mentioned in my original post that I am using a color head enlarger and when I said "White Light" I meant that all the filter dials were set to zero and no filter under the lens. I was under the impression that this scenario was more or less equivalent to a Grade 2 using Ilford MG paper but I may be wrong and probably are :)

ic-racer
22-Sep-2018, 15:12
I ought to have mentioned in my original post that I am using a color head enlarger and when I said "White Light" I meant that all the filter dials were set to zero and no filter under the lens. I was under the impression that this scenario was more or less equivalent to a Grade 2 using Ilford MG paper but I may be wrong and probably are :)
To make life easier, the middle tones stay the same when changing between #2 filter and the others (except the highest two). If your first exposure is on white light, not only do you not know if it is #2, #2.5 or something else, the exposure for the next filter higher or lower will require a new series of test prints.

If you are really printing for the first time, maybe someone on the forum can send you a perfectly exposed scene on a 4x5 negative and you can print it with every filter in your filter set to see how the paper responds. It is all about seeing rather than reading.

Pere Casals
22-Sep-2018, 15:55
If your first exposure is on white light, not only do you not know if it is #2, #2.5 or something else

racer, with white light (tungsten) you get exactly Grade 2 .

182712

See here page 3: https://www.ilfordphoto.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Contrast-control-for-Ilford-Multigrade.pdf

With that table you can obtain any grade with a color enlarger, but additional exposure correction has to be made when changing the grade, this is "single color settings" mode.

If using "Dual colour filter settings" then we only have a minor exposure change, as explained in the same page of the pointed document.

ic-racer
22-Sep-2018, 17:52
Yes, those "maximum bright" settings can be useful in special circumstances! I'm not keen on using those all the time because of the inconvenience in re-establishing a base exposure with each change in contrast. Seems the OP has at his disposal the convenience of the filter set and may or may not have a tungsten lamp.
Indeed the older Ilford filter sets used white light as one of the available settings using an exposure compensation of 1/2, but the latest filters have a specific #2 to simplify exposure settings between contrast settings. Again, outside of 'special circumstances' I don't see why one would not want to use the #2 filter.

Mamu
22-Sep-2018, 18:29
I have been reading and in some cases experimenting with this dodging and burning using filters. Where I seem to get confused is knowing which end of the filter scale to use for both dodging and burning. Take my white flower for example. Once I have the whites where I want them but feel I could get more detail out of the petals, would I reach for a low contrast or high contrast filter to start burning.

Using a color head does make it easier to change. That's a great question which I hope you'll test for yourself and let me know your results. It depends on the tonality of the details you're trying to bring out. If you want shadow detail with minimum effect on the higher values I'd increase the contrast. If you need midtones or highlight detail and don't want to block up any darker areas or details, I'd decrease the contrast. In practice though, if you use a split contrast method by doing a test at G1 and find the exposure to see the first hint of highlight detail, then expose a second test strip at G1 for that time, increase to G4 and give a second exposure at 1/4, 1/2, and equal to the original time on your second test you should get more detail without having to use much burning or dodging. That's what works for me but you might find others who swear by some variation that turns out to be your way.

Mamu
22-Sep-2018, 19:04
I ought to have mentioned in my original post that I am using a color head enlarger and when I said "White Light" I meant that all the filter dials were set to zero and no filter under the lens. I was under the impression that this scenario was more or less equivalent to a Grade 2 using Ilford MG paper but I may be wrong and probably are :)

Use the color settings recommend my Ilford for your enlarger. I suspect you've actually been printing at around G3. VC papers have a low contrast emulsion sensitive to yellow and a high contrast emulsion that is more sensitive to magenta. Without color balanced light, they can be all over the place. They are engineered for the color pack so definitely use it. Making negatives optimal for printing is absolutely necessary for getting good prints on graded papers and for alternative processing. There are some who stick to graded papers even today. It is much harder to get a really spectacular print, but when you do, they're amazing. If you want to optimize your negs, you'll need to do a series of test negs and prints with your materials in your darkroom such as described in Ansel Adams books. That's the only way to lock down all the factors and see what under, normal and over exposed negs with -1, normal and +1 development look like printed at different exposures and contrasts. Three rolls or nine sheets of 4x5 should get you your negs. Ten 8x10 sheets cut into 4x5's would cover the paper. Once you've done those tests, you'll be able to expose and develop your film to print just like you want and expect it to.

adelorenzo
22-Sep-2018, 19:28
Check out Tim Layton's YouTube channel, many of his recent videos are exactly this type of print.

Ted R
23-Sep-2018, 12:25
I also agree that white light exposure of MG paper provides no useful information, rather I always start with contrast filters in place grade 2 or 3 and make a series of whole frame prints at different exposures and different contrasts, maybe four or six prints, to find out what I have on my negative. By inspecting these prints I find out about the range of midtones, whether there is detail in the shadows that I want and how dense the highlights are, and from this I arrive at the choices of how much dodging and burning can contribute and what contrast filter to use and what exposure to use for the next series of prints. This may require ten or more experimental prints to arrive at a printing plan for the final satisfactory print.

This can all be done at 8x10 size to lower cost and then be scaled up for larger sizes once the contrast and dodging and burning have been figured out.

Sometimes the evolution of the final print variation can require half a day of work during which a number of possible ways of printing the image have been attempted and evaluated.

Sometimes I prefer not to make a choice of final print variation till later, I "live with" a number of experimental prints checking how I feel about each variant a number of times spread over days or weeks before making a choice.

LabRat
23-Sep-2018, 13:31
White light exposure on MG produces a long scale #2, but filtered #2 is a shorter scale. .


Steve K

Pere Casals
23-Sep-2018, 15:48
White light exposure on MG produces a long scale #2, but filtered #2 is a shorter scale. .
Steve K

IMHO the white light and #2 produce the same "scale".

White light alone allows shorter exposures, if not stopping the lens then the exposure time have a certain impact...

But if we manage to have the same exposure then the #2 and the white light (tungsten) produces the same.

Anyway in both cases we obtain from the same naked barite to the same coat of metallic silver, the DMax of the paper.

Bill Burk
23-Sep-2018, 21:32
Pere,

The difficulty is minor, but if you make a test strip without a filter, and you need to make another test strip with a filter, you'll find a different base exposure.

Mostly the inconvenience is that I have trouble comparing two "slightly" different test strips. I just went with graded paper to solve this problem for myself.

But I remember feeling "dumb" that I made one print without a filter, and now have to figure out what the best guess time would be for a print with a filter.

If I had made a test strip with a grade 2 filter, at least I'd have narrowed down a best guess time.

LabRat
23-Sep-2018, 22:10
[QUOTE=Pere Casals;1461954]IMHO the white light and #2 produce the same "scale".

No, with MG, you get a different shadow density with and without filter, but much more so with MGRC than MGFB... It was common in pro lab printing to use a #2 filter if the shadows were overall too dark...

Filtered or unfiltered will have a different exposure, due to the filter cutting light and the spectrum changing...

Steve K

Pere Casals
24-Sep-2018, 00:54
No, with MG, you get a different shadow density with and without filter, but much more so with MGRC than MGFB... It was common in pro lab printing to use a #2 filter if the shadows were overall too dark...

Steve, the #2 filter is designed to allow to pass the "same share" of green than of blue with a regular tungsten spectrum, but the filter may have a quite different effect depending on the spectrum of the source light (speaking about cold cathode in Pro labs ?), if the light source is not tungsten it may happen that the filter matching the white light is not exactly the #2, with cold cathode the grades from the filters are not evenly spaced, then there are shifts.

See here Chapter "Cold cathode enlarger heads" in the Ilford VC document, page 3: https://www.ilfordphoto.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Contrast-control-for-Ilford-Multigrade.pdf

Note: the "same share" is related to the effect in the 3 emulsions of the VC paper, with tungsten...

See this scales (from the ilford doc):

182745

..so we see that when inserting the #2 filter in an Aristo cold cathode we obtain grade #3 !!!!! So it's possible that by removing the filter you got something closer to #2 with white light...

Well, if cold cathode is a difuser then that grade #3 (from filter #2 in the Aristo) would also be softer that a condenser with grade #3, because the condenser vs difuser effect.



Pere,

The difficulty is minor, but if you make a test strip without a filter, and you need to make another test strip with a filter, you'll find a different base exposure.



Bill, I found that calibration solves that, at least for a learner like me. http://www.darkroomautomation.com/support/

182737

Once one gets used to deal with tables/plots and spot measuring light on the easel we can nail what we want, or at least we can predict the final density in any spot of the print. At the beginning it's a bit stressing, but once one gets used to paper calibrations I guess it's like riding a bicycle. Still I'm learning that, but I find it's a right way control the print as we want.

Of course a very skilled printer may obtain what he wants with some strips, not needing tables, but that's not my level and calibrations helps me a lot to not waste entire paper boxes.

A (retired) very good darkroom color printer (wedding) explained me that (by measuring things) he always nailed the amazing skin tone of the girl's cheek and the right exposure in the first color print, and told me that this was the way to not throw materials and to speedup production. I guessed he was right after wasting two paper boxes for a print and not being able to get a sound result.


My view is that with a complex print we have to be able to easily nail the densities we want en each key spot, because later we have to face local contrast control and there is a relevant workload with split grade burning/dodging.

Also learning to make easily printable negatives is key... I guess ! :)

Steve Sherman
24-Sep-2018, 15:57
This is a fairly advanced technique I'll share, understanding Multi-Contrast papers respond to both Green & Blue filtration, therefore using filtration that combines one with the other progressively diminishes the flexibility that MC papers offer. The only filtration I use is 0 & 5, in varying combinations to create the desired beginning contrast using 2 separate exposures. Secondary "split printing" is again done with only 0 or 5, anything in between simply extends the time to affect the desired outcome, and "contaminates" mid-tone contrast. This approach should be the underlying foundation and the first rule of how to print when using MC papers.

Pere Casals
25-Sep-2018, 02:09
Steve, my view is that with split grade we end in a regular grade. At the end with split grade we throw an amount of blue and an amount of green, what's a regular contrast filter also does.

Of course red is irrelevant and it's always let to pass to see better while we dodge/burn...

The advantage I see in split grade is that we can dodge/burn while exposing with the #00 or while exposing with the #5, so we get local contrast control, but I found no difference in the mids from the equivalent filter grade, this is what sensitometric curves suggest, please correct me if I'm wrong.

Steve Sherman
25-Sep-2018, 04:20
Steve, my view is that with split grade we end in a regular grade. At the end with split grade we throw an amount of blue and an amount of green, what's a regular contrast filter also does.

Of course red is irrelevant and it's always let to pass to see better while we dodge/burn...

The advantage I see in split grade is that we can dodge/burn while exposing with the #00 or while exposing with the #5, so we get local contrast control, but I found no difference in the mids from the equivalent filter grade, this is what sensitometric curves suggest, please correct me if I'm wrong.
That is correct, the general contrast of the print, in my world is dictated by the most difficult area of the print to manipulate, a combination of 0 & 5 filtration will yeild that contrast. That could be grade 3.25, so in the way I combine the two exposures can yield a grade inbetween grade 3 & 3.5. I am more talking about buring or dodging with grades inbetween 0 or 5 simply degrades mid tone contrast. What many do not seem to grasp is the beginning and ending tonailites are fairly easy to arrive at, most people when looking at a print react with the mid tone relationships and that is why I put so much emphasis on those relationships in the print. The beginning and ending tonalities should be determined when making the negative so the focus can be on affecting mid tone contrast in the final print. At least that is the way I go about designing a negative and making a print.

Pere Casals
25-Sep-2018, 05:30
I am more talking about buring or dodging with grades inbetween 0 or 5 simply degrades mid tone contrast.

Well, this depends on how we do it... if after an general exposure with suitable grade we burn higlights with the #5 then midtones won't be changed, only highlights will build additional density...

But I fully agree that is not making a good negative then we have a lot of troubles in the darkroom.

Let me ask how you would print this negative: https://www.flickr.com/photos/125592977@N05/28693688313/in/dateposted-public/

I've been struggling with it a lot and still I'm not satisfied...

Steve Sherman
25-Sep-2018, 07:19
Pere. Are those negative density readings ?? If so you are
pushing the boundaries of Silver Gelatin. 1.7 & 1.9 I would
suggest flashing. Iíll look at the image on a big computer screen tonight as I am just on a cell
phone now

Thalmees
25-Sep-2018, 08:36
...
crocein scarlet.
...

Thank you so much Eric.
From where can get Crocein Scarlet?
Regards.

Bill Burk
25-Sep-2018, 11:38
Thank you so much Eric.
From where can get Crocein Scarlet?
Regards.

Send me a message, I can send some by post.

Bill Burk
25-Sep-2018, 11:43
Pere,

Though calibration is wise... the problem I see when going from white light to the filter “next to 2”... can be solved by making the first test strip with the number 2 filter.

In other words, always use a filter with multigrade paper.

I try to remember not to do that first test strip without a filter because I expect it to mess me up when I want to go to the next grade.

Steve Sherman
25-Sep-2018, 16:13
Pere. Are those negative density readings ?? If so you are
pushing the boundaries of Silver Gelatin. 1.7 & 1.9 I would
suggest flashing. Iíll look at the image on a big computer screen tonight as I am just on a cell
phone now
There are densities on that negative that are well over 2.00 what do you hope to accomplish with this photograph ?? In all liklihood, even if you were able to get a light grey tonality on the print that's all there would be, no detail, simply a light grey without texture. Realistically, the only way to capture this image is to give adequeate shadow exposure and let the highlights go as high as they can be retrieved back to a printable with slight texture (Zone 14) and hope that provides some type of adequate shadow information. OR, time the exposure for the shadow values right around dusk when they are brighter, wait 60 - 90 minutes and then give another exposure to capture the night lights and develop somewhere along the idea of N-5. With that type of negative so long as the high values have been compressed to an adequate denisty to allow as little 0 filtration as possible to increase mid tone contrast and information.