View Full Version : contact printing

27-Sep-2003, 11:01
Can someone give me some tips on dodging and burning for contact printing? I'm getting halos and all sorts of horrible sloppy things. I'm finding this way harder than using an enlarger - should I?

Brian Ellis
27-Sep-2003, 11:58
Dodging and burning are more difficult but in my experience there's a lot less of it with contact printing so overall you should be finding contact printing easier than enlarging, at least I did. I seldom had to dodge or burn anything when making 8x10 contact prints on Azo. Halos sounds like maybe the negative is moving during the exposure or in between exposures if you're making more than one exposure for some reason. What sorts of other "horrible things" are you getting? Do you have a good quality contact printing frame? Is the glass clean and free of defects? What exactly is your set-up?

27-Sep-2003, 11:59
If you are using AZO paper to print on check out this web site, http://www.michaelandpaula.com There is a forum there relating directly to this paper and there are also some articles, one you might look at is http://www.michaelandpaula.com/mp/startframe.html Hope this helps.

27-Sep-2003, 12:04
Brian, I'm embarrassed to admit that I am only using a sheet of glass on a rubber mat exposing by a 150watt bulb - I'm just experimenting to see if I can do this successfully. I'm checking out ebay for a vacuum frame. The 'horrible' things are just sloppy dodging and burning with the adjustments being in places they shouldn't be.

Christian Olivet
27-Sep-2003, 12:43
I think your halos are from over doing the dodge-burn. I am not sure why you have to fight it so much. My guess is that your negative is far from where it needs to be. Are all your negs doing that? A piece of glass over a soft rubber is the simplest method. Don't get crazy with equipment. I wouln't use a vaccum frame unless I were doing extremely large prints or if I wanted to do them on the wall. Check michaelandpaula.com for all you need to know. Have fun

27-Sep-2003, 12:53
Thanks Christian and Saulius. I've been printing digitally for the last 3 or 4 years and I'm having to relearn my analogue chops. If I could get a digital neg to not show a dither pattern I'd be much happier!

Chad Jarvis
27-Sep-2003, 14:07
I would tend to agree that if you're doing that much dodging and burning, your negative either has too long of a scale, or your paper isn't long-scaled enough. AZO would be an excellent choice, though there are plenty of other alternative processes that you might like that are well-suited to negatives with a longer range.

Donald Miller
27-Sep-2003, 16:49
In regard to your problems burning and dodging. My first recommendation is to have your negative density range match the exposure scale of the paper. If you are using conventional enlarging paper then the density range (high value density minus low value density---not minus FB+fog) needs to be appr. 1.00. If you are using Azo,then I have just conducted tests of grades two and three paper by exposing a 21 step Stouffer tablet and checked the reflection densities to arrive at the film density range that the paper will work with. For grade two Azo the negative density range is 1.60 and for grade three Azo the negative density range needs to be 1.10. These densities would be read through the blue channel of a color densitometer if you are using a Pyro based film developer and exposing the paper through a reflector flood. If you were using a UV light source then the densities would need to be read through a UV channel or diminished by appr. .30 from the blue channel readings that I have indicated. If the camera negative is exposed and developed to match the paper then the need for extensive burning and dodging is diminished.

Ralph Barker
27-Sep-2003, 19:45
Don't feel bad about your glass plate and rubber mat, Julian. I use a thin piece of plate glass hinged at one end to a masonite pegboard base and edged with gaffer's tape, and expose using defocused light under the enlarger for 8x10 contacts on conventional paper.

The problem, of course, is that you can't see what you're doing with the same precision as with a projected image. Thus, I try not to do anything on contacts that requires that level of precision. Just remember the basics: keep the dodging tool moving (mine are attached to 12" wands made from clothes hanger wire, which adds a touch of quiver), and remember that the closer the tool is to the print, the harder-edged the shadow will be. Vary the distance as needed to get the effect you need.

The rest is essentially the same techniques used with enlarging. If you're burning in a sky area along a fairly even horizon, for example, dodge the edge of the land area a bit during the primary exposure so you can feather the sky burn into that area without darkening the horizon line.

Brian Ellis
1-Oct-2003, 06:16
I didn't mean to suggest there's anything wrong with a piece of good glass and a clean rubber mat, just that I thought your halos might be the result of the negative moving slightly at some point which raised a question about the equipment. However, as you further explain it I'm inclined to agree with the others - if you need to do a lot of dodging and burning then possibly the problem is the negative rather than the printing process. I never really got the hang of dodging and burning with contact prints. The only time I could do it successfully was when the area being dodged or burned was very large and with easily seen demarcation points, e.g. burning the sky when the horizon was straight. The kind of pin-point (more or less) dodges and burns that you can do when enlarging and using carboard cutouts were never possible for me with contact prints but then I almost never needed them either. I found contact printing a real pleasure compared to enlarging. Of course the best of all in terms of ability to alter tonal values and small areas of an image is Photoshop, which is one of the reasons I now print digitally 99% of the time.

david clark
2-Oct-2003, 22:16
Are you having problems with Newton rings?

eck wheeler
3-Oct-2003, 13:19
A trick I use is to have a proof print close by so I can use it as a visual reference. It's still a bit of voodoo, which makes it fun.