View Full Version : Printing with Multicontrast Filters

Kevin Crisp
18-Apr-2001, 20:06
I am trying printing with multicontrast filters for the first time in a long, lo ng, time. I would appreciate guidance on how to print different parts of the ne gative with different contrast levels. I've got a negative I'd like to start wi th that has a fairly thin foreground (sagebrush and dirt road) and a very bright cloud filled sky with filtered sunlight. The road would need about grade 4 pap er to look decent, even after I intensified the bottom half of the negative. Th at would be way too much contrast for the sky, however, which I'd say would be a bout right on graded 2 paper. So with filters, what do I do? I assume that if I don't mix the light somehow I'd get an inevitable ugly line at the horizon. D o I pick the longer exposure half of the negative and hold that back and then ad d more to just it with the other contrast filter to bring it up or down some? O r something else? Hope this question makes sense. Thanks for any suggestions. I think the French are great and I don't have an Arca-Swiss so no abuse please.

David R Munson
18-Apr-2001, 23:57
For difficult (contrasty, usually) negatives I use a technique my photography instructor called "base plus bump." It basically involves finding the exposure at grade 0 at which your highlights just register, which for the sake of reference, we'll say is 15 seconds. The next step would be to make a print, 15 seconds at grade 0 and 15 seconds at grade 5. Generally, this should be pretty close to a good print. If necessary, you can fine tune by doing a little more or less on the grade 0 or grade 5 exposure. Also, you can do whatever dodging or burning is necessary. In the case of the negative you mentioned, you might need to hold the foreground back in the initial exposure and then burn it in at a higher grade in a secondary exposure. Good luck.

Cesar Barreto
19-Apr-2001, 01:11
Kevin, Printing thin areas of a negative is the most difficult part of the job. You usually have to cope with heavier filtration, which translates into small exposure latitude. And, of course, these areas always ask for the shortest exposure. Any mistake leads to gray shadows or featureless blacks. So, finding the perfect grade/exposure combo for shadows can well be the first step. Probably, this short and contrasty exposure will print very little of medium and high- lights, so it can be very easy to add exposure (sometimes many stops above shadows) using low contrast filters. The clear advantage of low contrast burning is that your movements easily blends without much notice, while greater latitude also permits a confortable margin for exposure unprecision. If you make some tests with gray-scales you'll find out that most VC papers show similar responses on light values whatever the filter in use. So, once you find the right exposure for printing high values, it might works for any filters, except 4 and above. This approach can turn to be quite predictable and time-saving. I hope it can be useful.

Cesar B.

Scott Walton
19-Apr-2001, 09:37
Kevin, first of all, the nice part of this board is that no one really flames people. We are here to try to help without attitudes! Secondly, as far as your question, get "matched filters" like Ilford's or the new Kodak filters. This will help because there is no real calculating for time differences when switching filtrations. Cheers

Doug Paramore
19-Apr-2001, 10:01
Kevin: One of my negatives require exactly the printing controls you describe. It is of an old log cabin with dogwood trees in the foreground. The front of the cabin is quite thin on the negative. I print the cabin front with a #4 filter and the top portion of the negative, including the roof and clouds behind it, without a filter. It took quite a while to work it all out, but the resulting print is one of by best selling images. The mood is perfect. Strangly enough, a negative that was more "properly exposed" is just a plain picture and holds none of the mood of the thin neg. Here is the method I used when working out the printing details: First, I did a half sheet exposure strip to obtain the best time for the cabin front. Then I did an exposure for that section. After that exposure, I did another test strip without a filter(which gives you about a grade 2) to obtain the exposure time for the clouds and roof. I print the lower portion of the neg with a grade 4 filter, remove it, and holding a card high to avoid a sharp line, print the top portion of the neg. Be sure to keep the card moving. Once you work out the details, it is not difficult to print. Be sure to write down the times so you can repeat the process if you have to make multiple prints. Hope this helps.


neil poulsen
22-Apr-2001, 02:04
I had an instructor who gave us each about a 1.25" square piece of magenta filter. The idea was to attach it to a piece of coat hanger and use it to "dodge" the print. I imagine it could work with a "0" or a "5" piece of VC filter. I haven't tried it, but I thought it was kind of clever.