View Full Version : Article Paper Curve Vs Highlight/Shadow Character?

Andre Noble
17-Mar-2006, 01:17
I have a high contrast, traditional developer developed B&W negative I'd like to enlarge. I know form experience that Ilford MG IV will not place these highlights from this negative without washout - (which is why i don't usually develop my negatives this way - but this is a digital to film output neg from A&I so no choice there).

Anyway, I read in either Phototechniques or View Camera magazine an article that described the toes and shoulders of about 4 B&W paers as being straight or long, etc, and it also told which paers had these characteristics, and how a contrasty negative would print better on either a long toed (or short?) or long shouldered (or short?) paper - I forget which. I meant to copy this down for ready reference.

Could someone direct me to either the date/publication of the article, or recommend an enlarging paper that can deal with a negative that would otherwise print with relatively blocked highlights on Ilford Fiber MGIV, for instance?

Thanks in advance.

John Brownlow
17-Mar-2006, 06:25
You could also try controlling the contrast of the paper by overexposing and under-developing just as you would with a negative. You may get a bit of tonal shift with some papers but it is easy to do and worth a try. You could also try a version of stand development or minimal agitation.

steve simmons
17-Mar-2006, 07:08
Manipulating paper exposure and development does not work very well most of the time. Try a 0 or 1 filter.

If the highlights on the neg are on its shoulder then nothing will print it well. The neg may be the problem.

steve simmons

Oren Grad
17-Mar-2006, 07:35
The first question is whether the overall density range of your negative is simply too extreme for the exposure scale of any available silver paper. If not, then switching to another paper might help.

Among the papers I've used, Forte Polygrade V has a relatively long toe and can sometimes help in controlling extreme highlights. The problem is that for a given VC filtration, I've always found Polygrade V to be more contrasty overall than either of the Ilford FB papers, which tends to exacerbate the problem.

I would follow Steve's advice. First see whether using a #0 filter with MGIVFB will at least let you make a straight print with detail in all parts of the tonal scale of the negative. If the answer is yes, but you don't like the tonal scale that results in the print (for example, you want more, or less, contrast in the highlights compared to the midtones and shadows, or there are "dead spots" of anomalously low contrast in the tonal scale because the VC curve gets lumpy at extreme yellow filtration), then you can worry about using another paper. But if a zero filter on a middle of the road paper like MGIVFB doesn't even bring you into the ballpark, you would need to consider more elaborate measures like contrast masking, which may not be worth the trouble.

I suppose you could also try a developer like Selectol Soft, which is usually used to control contrast with graded papers. I suspect that the combination of Selectol Soft and a #0 filter with a VC paper would give you a very muddy tonal scale, but perhaps someone has actually tried it.

John O'Connell
17-Mar-2006, 07:37
It's tough to predict exactly how a paper will perform for you, given the fact that papers change so often. Buy a step wedge and small packages of the papers you want to try, and make contact prints of the step wedge at each contrast grade in each paper developer you use. That's the easiest way to see which papers will have the long, straight highlight response you want.

I've never had any reducing development in printing. I always ended up with weak, muddy blacks.

Oren Grad
17-Mar-2006, 07:40
Actually, it occurs to me that the Ilford filter set goes all the way down to #00, but you get the idea - just try the maximum yellow filtration you can lay your hands on, whether it's in your dichroic head or if you're using separate filters. Based on the results from that, it will be clearer what your other options might be.

Mark Sampson
17-Mar-2006, 07:40
The article you are looking for is called "Gradation". Written by Phil Davis, it appeared in the Dec. 1997 issue of "Photo Techniques" magazine. It provides an excellent look into the question of matching negs and papers, which is often neglected. It probably won't tell you what paper you want to print your problem neg on, but I think it would be a great help in understanding the situation.

Oren Grad
17-Mar-2006, 07:59
I think Phil's gradation article is one of the all-time classics from PT, well worth a read any time. But I suspect that what Andre is thinking of is Fred Newman's article from the Nov/Dec '05 issue, "Guide to Variable Contrast Papers", which has capsule descriptions of the characteristics of different papers.

Jorge Gasteazoro
17-Mar-2006, 07:59
You might want to try Azo grade 2 which has for all practical purposes a straigh line with no shoulder (dont worry about the "grade 2" Azo requires much higher contrast negatives than regular enlarging paper, but is only good for contact printing). You might want to try SLIMT AKA Sterry method of bleaching the shadows in the print before developing or you might go with split printing. You can also try POP paper which also needs a very high contrast paper but is only good for contact printing.

If you need to enlarge the best method would be the SLIMT technique, where you over expose the paper until you get detail in the highlights and then you bleach the shadows with potassium dichromate before you develop the paper. This has worked for me very well in the past.

Oren Grad
17-Mar-2006, 08:05
Jorge, I'm reaching deep into the dusty recesses of memory here, but for some reason SLIMT reminds me of DI #13. What's the overall effect of SLIMT on the shape of the paper curve?

Bruce Schultz
17-Mar-2006, 08:09
Try exposing with a high-contrast filter, a No. 4 or 5, for most of the exposure, then go to a low-contrast filter for just a few seconds for either exposing the whole sheet of paper or burning. I did that last night printing contact sheets of 8x10x with Kentmere VC and was quite pleased at its ability to tame dense areas of the negative.

Oren Grad
17-Mar-2006, 08:24
OK, here's an article on the application of SLIMT to B&W paper:

www.codemastersworkshop.com/frontdoor/nw_strry.htm (http://www.codemastersworkshop.com/frontdoor/nw_strry.htm)

Not like DI#13. From Kachel's account, it sounds like the process reduces shadow contrast while preserving highlight contrast. You'd have to try it to see whether that works for the specific picture. But I'm happy to rediscover this method, I might have to try it myself. Thanks, Jorge...

steve simmons
17-Mar-2006, 08:34
Azo is a contact paper only so unless he wants a contact print this won't be helpful. The question stillis whether or not the film is over processed to the point there is no good high value separation. If this is the case it won't matter what paper he uses.

steve simmons

Paul Fitzgerald
17-Mar-2006, 08:46

You could ask A&I to redo the negs for you. If all else fails you could try the unsharp mask scheme, works well but has dust on 4 sides.

Good luck with it.

Andre Noble
17-Mar-2006, 17:12
Oren's got the right View Camera rticle, but I realize now that I didn't buy that edition. Steve is right, if highlights overexposed. ..

I may check into Kentmere VC, as Freestlye is right up street. Will try Ilford MG IV firstIf all ese fails I may ask A&I to reprint on to film , leave undeveloped, and I'll bring the 4x5 neg home and develop in my own developer (pyro).

Thanks all for suggestions above.

18-Mar-2006, 05:07
You could try flashing the paper to change the highlight curve.