View Full Version : Split Grade Printing

brian steinberger
23-May-2006, 20:40
I'm wondering how many people are using split-grade printing as means of a test strip and final print. You can waste many pieces of paper determining correct exposure and contrast a any given negative. Does split-grade printing hold any advantage over traditional test strips as far as convenience?

Donald Qualls
23-May-2006, 20:55
I use split filtering on every VC print I make -- I have a cold light head and was concerned about contrast control and on a budget, so I bought Lee filter material in 100 Spring Yellow and 119 Dark Blue (I wanted 295 Magic Magenta for the hard filter, but the local supplier didn't have it in stock); $14 got me enough of each to keep me in filters until doomsday.

I normally make a full-sheet test print, with strips one direction under the yellow and the other direction under blue; I can pick both contrast and exposure off that one test print (barring exceptional variations in scene contrast or brightness across the frame) and routinely hit the print I want on the first try after the test (though I usually still have to print one at 10% shorter exposure to compensate for dry-down). Typical exposures are 10-20 seconds with each filter at f/18 with large negatives and 135 mm lens, about the same at f/8 for 35 mm (to 8x10) and 16 mm (to 5x7) through 50 mm lens.

I spent about 6 hours in the darkroom today (including setup and cleanup of my temporary darkroom -- it's also the main bathroom), and have 7-8 RC prints I'm really happy with (test, one good one, and one for dry-down), two extra copies of one particular favorite, plus 4-5 more I didn't carry all the way through because of problems with the negative that weren't visible until I had a positive print. Never needed more than one test print during today's session.

Dan Jolicoeur
24-May-2006, 10:14
I use split filtering printing for 95% of my work. I find it takes far less paper to get the contrast i am looking for. Typically the 2nd or 3rd sheet is the correct exposure. I use a 0 and +5. If it takes more sheets than 3 it is usually because of extra dodging and or burning I am doing after.

I sure would like to know how those who say this is a waste of time and paper pick there correct filter/exposure the 1st 2 sheets?
Have Fun!

Jay DeFehr
24-May-2006, 12:45
I use a color head, which I've calibrated for the papers I use. I guess at the contrast and exposure by looking at the neg, and make a test print covering 2 stops of exposure in 1/2 stops. Since my contrast adjustments are stepless, and speed matched, I concentrate on getting the best exposure in the highlights by comparing the test strip to reference scales made with the paper I'm using during the calibration process, and I adjust the contrast to get the shadows where I want them, using the same reference scales. My second print should be exposed correctly, and at my chosen contrast. Barring any further manipulations, i.e. burning, dodging, etc., I apply my drydown factor and make the final print. Easy as pie.