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  1. #1
    Steve Sherman's Avatar
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    Flashing still used with Multi-Contrast papers ??

    Is anyone using the Flashing technique to control contrast ?? Increase or decrease contrast ??


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  2. #2
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: Flashing still used with Multi-Contrast papers ??

    Most of the Vivian Maier images I worked on used flashing, I do not see how not to use this valuable tool.

  3. #3
    Steve Sherman's Avatar
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    Re: Flashing still used with Multi-Contrast papers ??

    Quote Originally Posted by bob carnie View Post
    Most of the Vivian Maier images I worked on used flashing, I do not see how not to use this valuable tool.
    I most interested to know if a printer of your stature and talents uses the technique to increase Mid-tone contrast ??


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  4. #4
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: Flashing still used with Multi-Contrast papers ??

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Sherman View Post
    I most interested to know if a printer of your stature and talents uses the technique to increase Mid-tone contrast ??
    I use flashing for highlight regions only , Mis-read the title - I do not see how flashing would help the mid tones other than lower midtone contrast but I may be wrong. If one could create digital masks I can see where local flashing would be interesting for the whole scene but I personally have not gone down that rabbit hole. Others may have , I suspect someone who makes a lot of masks for their work would be a candidate for this kind of work.


    What I do to increase mid tone contrast is to dodge in the basic exposures to steepen the curve (so to speak) much like soft light in PS. This technique is done in all the image even if I am burning in I will still be dodging, kind of like highlight protection negatives that were sandwiched with contrast control negs in cibachrome.. I believe this is the way to direct the viewer to areas of prints with local contrast methods, flashing is a very key element for nailing tone in negatives that are tough.

    I have always said that dodging was the most important tool,, when I started printing professionally in 1976 I worked at a wedding studio where we printed all our work, Mr Filopvitch was a hard task master and made me use dodging on every single print, ( wallets if you can believe it included) What I learned was by using this tool one could modulate the look of the print to draw the viewers eye, most people think that is the role of the Burn, which I feel is overated.
    I prefer to take away from an darker image rather than build it up from a lighter one....
    It becomes pretty natural after time, I prefer to hit the timer and not dick around with the knobs while I print, I always have the dodging and burning in tool working in a kind of Automatic Feel.

  5. #5

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    Re: Flashing still used with Multi-Contrast papers ??

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Sherman View Post
    I most interested to know if a printer of your stature and talents uses the technique to increase Mid-tone contrast ??
    Bob's right on here: Flashing only noticeably affects the toe of the paper (highlights) by overcoming the threshold inertia and making it easier to get some detail in what would otherwise be blank white. The trade-off is reduced highlight contrast. The small amount of overall exposure used for flashing is proportionally smaller compared to the overall exposure the darker the area of the print is. Where flashing might be half of the highlight exposure, it ends up being only 5% or so in the mid-tones (where it reduces contrast too, just to a much lesser extent, plus we've usually compensated by printing at a different contrast setting). In the darkest shadows, the flashing exposure is only a fraction of the total exposure.

    Often, burning VC paper at a high-contrast setting will give more contrasty details in the highlights. That said, sometimes flashing gives gratifying results, especially when it's something like a dark interior with a window showing a scene outdoors; one can print for the contrast in the shadowed area and use flashing to rein in the over-the-top bright area in the window.

    If you're looking to up midtone contrast when printing, then you simply need a higher contrast setting. There's really no way around it. With split-printing techniques, you can dodge midtones and then burn them back at a higher setting, like Bob does, or use a higher-contrast setting to begin with and then burn other areas of the print with a lower-contrast setting or any combination of the above that gets you what you want. Flashing, however, simply won't help here.

    Best,

    Doremus

  6. #6
    Joe O'Hara's Avatar
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    Re: Flashing still used with Multi-Contrast papers ??

    I tend to agree with Doremus here. I see changing the printing contrast as analogous to pushing the brightness curves around in Photoshop (something I did quite a bit of before I went back to wet printing). There's just so much range between black and white; they are endpoints fixed by the materials. "Local" contrast just means a higher slope at a certain range of brightnesses (= "density" in wet photography terms), typically in a certain area where you want that effect. This is managed with masks in PS and dodging or burning in the darkroom.

    BTW, I agree with Steve (in his remarks in the recent split-grade printing thread) that in principle, an overall quick exposure at maximum contrast after an initial overall exposure at a lower contrast level is equivalent technically to a single overall exposure at a somewhat higher contrast level. However, consider that when we print at higher contrast levels, exposure time becomes increasingly difficult to manage precisely: it gets difficult if you like the foot pedal and counting metronome ticks method, to control it below the 1-second level. ("Higher contrast" = "a greater density change for a given change of exposure".) I find it easier to get the highlights and higher midtones where I need them with a more moderate contrast setting--which is easier to consistently get right-- and then nail in the lowest values if needed with a quick shot of grade 5 light, again this with the lens stopped down to make the time management more tractable.

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  7. #7
    Eric Woodbury
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    Re: Flashing still used with Multi-Contrast papers ??

    I use it all the time. A great tool. Wouldn't want to give it up. Some films have such great range of detail, that it is convenient to compress the highlights but still be able to print in high contrast. I have a little green LED mounted beside my enlarging lens, connected to a separate timer to make the process really easy. 3-5 seconds bump. Fantastic.

  8. #8
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Flashing still used with Multi-Contrast papers ??

    It's the one technique I've never had any use for. Just for fun I might try it with a few early over-developed pre-pyro negs of mine that have otherwise been ignored all these years.

  9. #9
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Flashing still used with Multi-Contrast papers ??

    No need for flashing if you make the right kind of mask, which is something capable of improving microtonality along the entire curve. It would be redundant, although I must confess that when I use film masking (never digital masking, no thank you), it's generally in relation to a pyro developed neg in which the highlights have already been tamed somewhat by the image stain. I'd have to go way back to some very early negs to find something otherwise. But that happens to be what I'll be doing soon - trying to salvage some interesting old negs taken before I really understood the ropes. Maybe I'll try a flash on a few of them just for the heck of it, but don't really see why it would offer any benefit over split printing. ... The road to enlightenment is driving a Hummer on a prohibited Forest Service road between two pine trees too closely spaced to get that beast through, with a Ranger right there issuing citations.

  10. #10
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: Flashing still used with Multi-Contrast papers ??

    Hi Drew

    If the negative is completely blocked at the high end, a slight flash and then subsequent burn will indeed help, the original negative is blocked at the high end and no mask will help unless it is of course a Positive and then a complicated mask can be made, a mask in this case for lets say a street scene captured with bw negative film would need to be a registered negative mask within the enlarger which requires taking out the original negative and putting in a new negative at an enlarger magnification that would make this task really hard.. I know there are those of us who have done this but in my case it was at a lab with incredible equipment available to make this happen. Just making a negative mask for this highlight increase procedure is beyond the scope of most printers.
    One would need a complete photocomp setup to do this, I do understand that there are those making digital negs to be used at the paper level in contact but I do not think this is what this thread is about.
    For example in all the pt pd prints I make now I include a shadow only negative in register to apply pigment via gum printing, this increases the Dmax of the pt pd print, it would be simple to make this secondary negative a highlight only negative and if the pt pd process could not handle the highlight in a single exposure then a secondary hit of pigment via gum printing could be done.


    A simple flash with a second enlarger off the main enlarger is too strong a tool not to use... Of course if you are making perfect negatives that require no help then the point is moot, Perfect negs are like Perfect Prints, I have never seen one, A full range out door
    natural lit scene generally does not fall into the perfect category, especially if one is working from a roll and doing street work for example.

    Bob

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