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Thread: Burning Precise Areas

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Burning Precise Areas

    I have an image I need to reprint (and improve), but am not sure how best to do it. The general question is how to handle an image which has well-defined areas (in this case windows and door) which need to be burned in with exposures that are multiples of the overall base exposure, i.e. enough that the burning is likely to be very obvious around the edges of the area being burned in unless it is precise. One approach would be masking, but I have neither the specialized equipment nor experience. The one thing I have not tried yet is flashing the paper beforehand.

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    In this image, the open windows need the most burning (something like 5x the base exposure), the doorway a bit less (3x), the window arch also less (2x) and the floor (which I can do easily enough) about 2x. It is the windows and door which I am having the most trouble with. (This is an iPhone snap of a print I made maybe 10 years ago which already has a little burning, and I'm trying to improve the reprint,) Any suggestions greatly appreciated!

  2. #2

    Join Date
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    Re: Burning Precise Areas

    I would definitely try flashing the paper. It takes a bit of practice to learn how to do it well, but I think it could really help you. Are you using VC paper? If so you might also try split-grade printing to get the highlights and shadows close. With either method you'll still need to do some burning and/or dodging, but you should certainly be able to get a nice print.

    Good luck!

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 2019
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    83

    Re: Burning Precise Areas

    Flashing the paper will help, like Richard mentioned. That is the simplest solution.

    You could print for the highlights then use SLIMT to get the shadows from completely blocking up.

    You could make a mask to add density to the shadows but that would be the last thing I'd try.

  4. #4
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Dec 2012
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    Re: Burning Precise Areas

    Next time, if there is one, use a large Edison-base flash bulb w/o reflector to balance the difference - says the old man, me.

  5. #5
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Burning Precise Areas

    Not sure if this'll help, but I use large note cards to make custom burning shapes. Trace the area on the card, but a little smaller - then cut it out. When you lift the card away from the baseboard, the size of the burn area is bigger depending on the height of the card. So if you keep the card real low, it'll only be a bit bigger but have fairly sharp edges. If you want more diffuse edges, make the shape even smaller so that you have to lift higher to match the size. I use a piece of balsa wood with an appropriate hole cut out for the note cards if I need to, so that the entire print area is covered while burning - this can get troublesome with larger prints.

    And yes burn with the #0 filter to help just push the highlights down.

    Done this a few times and works for me, but YMMV.
    Bryan | Blog | YouTube | Instagram
    All comments and thoughtful critique welcome

  6. #6

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    Re: Burning Precise Areas

    For images like that one... I scan the negative, make corrections in Photoshop, then make a full sized digital negative to conventionally contact print from. Some of my B&W negatives that I took and processed in my first darkroom were essentially impossible to print using an enlarger. Uneven development and/or severe underprocessing were almost always the culprits. Have also made inkjet prints using an Epson Pro 4900 of the images... I have yet to prefer the digital print over the silver print. Side by side both are sharp. Inkjet prints seem to have brighter whites and darker (mat) blacks. BUT the silver prints have so much more depth in their grays.

  7. #7
    Drew Wiley
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    Sep 2008
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    SF Bay area, CA
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    Re: Burning Precise Areas

    Masking can be as simple as taping on a sheet of frosted mylar and using soft pencil smudge or dilute red dye to lighten certain areas, and thus print everything darker. But it looks like a good candidate for split printing too. I guess everyone has to try flashing at least once. I've never liked the results. PS is out in left field - the most convoluted route from Point A to faux Point B.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    Re: Burning Precise Areas

    You could always try masking the flash exposure to just the window and door, so that you don't lose any sparkle anywhere else. Make a test-print (on the cheapest paper you have), cut out the relevant areas, thin down and blacken the edges then place it over the paper to be printed prior to the flash exposure. If you notice that don't get a perfect match with the size, make a very slightly smaller print and cut that out then hold it (or better, fix it) above the print when making the flash, such that the edges are out of focus. A simpler idea is just to make the flash exposure long enough (ie. not much light) so that you make a couple of exposures using your hands for controlling the light.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jun 2015
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    Glasgow
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    Re: Burning Precise Areas

    Pre-flash separates the shadows, post-flash brings the highlights under control - neither are difficult to learn & you can dodge & burn the post-flash quite easily - & it will tame things often better than burning in on a low filter grade.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    May 2015
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    SooooCal/LA USA
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    Re: Burning Precise Areas

    First, try printing it on MG with a #1 or 1.5 filter with a healthy exposure...

    Can work wonders...

    Steve K

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