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Thread: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

  1. #41
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

    Interneg - I did experiment with high sulfite developers early on : excessive fog and an awfully long toe.

  2. #42

    Re: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    there are issues that masking addresses that the ZS or mere exp/contraction dev technique does not.
    Please let me know what these issues are because I have never experience them.

  3. #43

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    Re: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

    Michael, I recall reading at some time about Ansel spending a whole day in the darkroom to get a print exactly how he wanted it. And he was a professional who had to put bread on the table, but even with all his ZS and printing knowledge (which I’ll never learn in my remaining years) still struggled that day. I don’t know if he ever employed masking (I doubt it), but it’s evident to me from this tale that simple expansion/contraction techniques alone may not produce the “glowing” negatives that you describe; therefore ANY available supplemental printing techniques are of interest to me.

    Folks, as I mentioned earlier, my interest in unsharp masking is a result of the WBM2 chapter on this topic. In that chapter there were illustrations of not just opening up shadows but also a definite increase in sharpness of details in the shadows, that I understood was a result of edge enhancements of those details. The reasons for how this was achieved were also illustrated. This aspect of unsharp masking appeals to me very much. I’d appreciate any comments on this, as it has not been expounded upon thus far in this thread. Are there any other techniques that can produce this effect?

  4. #44

    Re: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

    To my earlier question. It is entirely technically possible (and I have been capable of) producing N+3 to N-4 negatives that print conventionally with a modest (if at all) aesthetic minimal conventional hand held burn or dodge. And I expose TMY, TMX, FP4+ and Delta 100. What am I missing?

  5. #45

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    Re: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Kadillak View Post
    To my earlier question. It is entirely technically possible (and I have been capable of) producing N+3 to N-4 negatives that print conventionally with a modest (if at all) aesthetic minimal conventional hand held burn or dodge. And I expose TMY, TMX, FP4+ and Delta 100. What am I missing?
    Of course, shadows can be opened up by dodging, but please read my second paragraph in post #43.

  6. #46
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

    A "glow" is really a subjective sum of any number of things. Edge effect and specular highlight sparkle can easily be enhanced using basic unsharp masking with real film. Midtone and high value microtonality can be wonderfully expanded, whereas traditional ZS contraction techniques penalize it. Shadow separation can also benefit; but a mask alone is no substitute for getting shadow values up onto the straight line of the original film to begin with using sufficient exposure, which differs both by film type and overall scene contrast. FP4 is a good middle of the road sheet film for general shooting, as well as being useful for masking. I rate it at 50 for general shooting for sake of sufficient shadow support. But when it comes to extreme contrast scenes you might need to shoot one of the TMax products. Masking is not a silver bullet. There are a lot of variables involved in making a rich print, and the most important of them tend to be more intuitive than technical. So one simply has to get very well acquainted with their chosen materials or specific print medium until it somehow synchronizes with your personal Gestalt, for lack of a better term. But what masking can sometimes do is add that little bit of extra spice needed to turn something so-so into something very special. I don't recommend it for every shot; but you have to experiment awhile to recognize when it works best.

  7. #47
    Eric Woodbury
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    Re: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    FP4 is a good middle of the road sheet film for general shooting, as well as being useful for masking. But when it comes to extreme contrast scenes you might need to shoot one of the TMax products.
    FP4 will hit N+4 with Wimberley's pyro formula. Above that (seldom) I use Ilford Ortho or Techpan. Techpan will do plus anything, but when used that way it is difficult to hit the exposure or development correctly. Ilford Ortho I'm still trying to understand, but it has interesting qualities in the high contrast domain.
    my picture blog
    ejwoodbury.blogspot.com

  8. #48

    Re: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Bodine View Post
    Michael, I recall reading at some time about Ansel spending a whole day in the darkroom to get a print exactly how he wanted it. And he was a professional who had to put bread on the table, but even with all his ZS and printing knowledge (which I’ll never learn in my remaining years) still struggled that day. I don’t know if he ever employed masking (I doubt it), but it’s evident to me from this tale that simple expansion/contraction techniques alone may not produce the “glowing” negatives that you describe; therefore ANY available supplemental printing techniques are of interest to me.

    Folks, as I mentioned earlier, my interest in unsharp masking is a result of the WBM2 chapter on this topic. In that chapter there were illustrations of not just opening up shadows but also a definite increase in sharpness of details in the shadows, that I understood was a result of edge enhancements of those details. The reasons for how this was achieved were also illustrated. This aspect of unsharp masking appeals to me very much. I’d appreciate any comments on this, as it has not been expounded upon thus far in this thread. Are there any other techniques that can produce this effect?
    Yes, it is my understanding that Ansel was excited about his water bath development technique and used it but never resorted to masking. Probably a product of his time. What has changed since then. Well, what we do know is that films have changed dramatically since then and I contend they are much improved in both quality control and performance with T Grain technology. The other game changers are catechol based developers like Pyrocat HD (and its variants) that have unique chemical properties that can be used in highly diluted forms (in reduced agitation process methodology) that hold shadow detail to attain expansions and contractions to a degree that was never before possible. The previous inability to process sheet film to such expansion and contractions (N+3 to N-4) I believe was the justification for contrast control masking. Case in point. Develop FP4+ in a conventional developer and you inherently get a top of the HD curve roll over. Process FP4+ in a Reduced Agitation Development process in N+ development mode and the top end of the film curve straightens out and extends like it was TMX. I recently made a photograph with FP4+ in a one stop sun over the horizon exposure on the South Platt River in Colorado late one evening and processed it with the RAD method and was able to produce a full scale negative that prints expressively without any extraneous printing techniques. Here is another game changer. For years I was of the opinion that TMX was solely relegated to a JOBO process in T Max RS developer (as per John Sexton) and only a fool would not adhere to these guidelines. Wrong. TMX responds like a finely cut gemstone in RAD development. I call this a game changer.

    The other improvement in the negative processing arena is the technological improvement of using an infrared (IR) monocle that lets the photographer see the negative develop while it takes place in front of them. I can tell in the first minute of development if the exposure was "on" (ie how the negative comes up in the developer) and when it needs to be pulled from the developer. I can perform the identical technique with my gas burst system again aided by my infrared monocle.

  9. #49
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

    Michael. You're still talking about a thin crust pizza; I'm talking about a deep dish pizza. With traditional ZS technique you have to either smash everything to fit into a preset sandwich thickness, or at the opposite extreme, make it swell up to that same density and grade thickness. Been there, done that. I'm old enough to remember waterbath dev with Super XX. As far as TMax goes, it does well in ALL common developers, and always has, though I have certain preferences. Sure, you can get a lot of mileage out of all kinds of dev techniques on their own. But there are places you can't go too. Why intimidate anyone from having fun with this, and potentially discovering a new tool that truly helps their own printing style? It doesn't work out for everyone. But nobody is going to fall off the edge of the earth for trying. They might just discover a whole new continent. And I do have to take exception to classifying masking as an "extraneous" technique. The same could be said for your IR monocle. If something works, it works.

  10. #50

    Re: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    Michael. You're still talking about a thin crust pizza; I'm talking about a deep dish pizza. With traditional ZS technique you have to either smash everything to fit into a preset sandwich thickness, or at the opposite extreme, make it swell up to that same density and grade thickness. Been there, done that. I'm old enough to remember waterbath dev with Super XX. As far as TMax goes, it does well in ALL common developers, and always has, though I have certain preferences. Sure, you can get a lot of mileage out of all kinds of dev techniques on their own. But there are places you can't go too. Why intimidate anyone from having fun with this, and potentially discovering a new tool that truly helps their own printing style? It doesn't work out for everyone. But nobody is going to fall off the edge of the earth for trying. They might just discover a whole new continent. And I do have to take exception to classifying masking as an "extraneous" technique. The same could be said for your IR monocle. If something works, it works.
    I shot a lot of Super XX as well and still have some in the freezer as we speak. I was able to make my case and that yes, there are absolutely plenty of new places one can go. I am not intimidating anyone with anything contrary to your contention. Years ago after reading numerous articles from Howard Bond on masking I intuitively questioned the rational for such extraneous iterations as the first defense agains the unnecessary and extraneous. Fortunately I decided to recommit myself to revisiting the basics of the process and was able to get to where I needed to be without complex augmentations within the printing process. When simpler works I use it. Onward!

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