View Full Version : Split contrast printing

7-Feb-2007, 09:20
OK before anyone jumps on this, I know that split contrast printing has been debated to death but I have a question about the process. So here goes....be gentle with me...

I may be completely off in my thinking about this.

While thinking about the photo-chemical process that goes on during exposure of the paper it occurred to me that since the shadow areas receive a great amount of light for any given exposure time (thus darker in the print), would exposing the shadow areas for a short portion of the overall exposure at grade 5 increase the contrast in those areas while leaving the highlight areas relatively unaffected?

As I said, I may be thinking incorrectly about what is going on during the print exposure. I am not a chemist and I don't pretend to be one.:confused:


Erich Hoeber
7-Feb-2007, 18:57
Well... yes. But perhaps not in the way you're imagining.

The thing about so called split contrast printing is... regardless of what you do, you can't change the fundamental response of the paper curves to green and blue light. SO... by using different filters you can certainly get in between half-grades, if that's useful to you. (For me, it's splitting hairs, and I'm a meticulous printer.) But other than that, printing with a 2 and then blasting with a 5 isn't going to get you anything that some other filter wouldn't have given you. This is counter-intuitive to a lot of folks, but think about it this way... the pattern of light intensity hitting the paper is static. All that changes is the percentages of blue and green light. You can vary that percentage by choosing a different filter or you can vary it by using a 00 and a 5 for various durations. At the end there's no difference.

Having said all this, I don't wish to disparage anyone's working method. Split contrast printing seems to work for some people. I merely want to point out that at the end of the day, it's all the same thing.

On the other hand, the place where switching filters CAN really make a difference is with burning and dodging!

9-Feb-2007, 09:09
Thanks Erich,

I wasn't sure if I was thinking through the process correctly.