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Thread: High SBR: Comparing D-23 1:1 vs. Pyrocat-HD EMA

  1. #11
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: High SBR: Comparing D-23 1:1 vs. Pyrocat-HD EMA

    There are a number of opinions in several previous posts I would disagree with, according to both densitometry and lots of actual experience printing. But I have no time to go into details at the moment. Sufficient to say, there is more than one way to skin a cat, and I happen to think it can be done more efficiently than in some of the manners already expressed.

  2. #12

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    Re: High SBR: Comparing D-23 1:1 vs. Pyrocat-HD EMA

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Sherman View Post
    I would not characterize as disagreeing. Merely that the
    Technique has become very intuitive for me. Simply adding more Green exposure in the printing formula goes directly at reducing mid-tone contrast if it is deemed too much.
    In principle, I agree with you. The problem is that if you are doing split VC printing for selective local contrast control by split dodge/burns, there are some images where being able to control a green light burn is too tricky - say when you have a lot of tight geometric figures in a very small piece of the image. I much prefer to - where possible - get the local contrast right on the negative so as to avoid complex dodge and burn patterns.


    Because Silver printing is the most contracted process, you want options
    100% agree with this. You cannot print what is not in the negative. That means the Photographing Me needs to produce negatives that gives the Printing Me the maximum set of choices as to what ends up in the final print. To that end managing shadow exposure, local contrast, and controlling highlight blocking are all about preserving as much information as possible.

    As I mentioned, I have shot negatives into 14 stop SBRs and held the entire range (with PMK notably, before I added D-23 and Pyrocat to my arsenal). Were all the inter-tone relationship preserved? No, but the negatives still have far more information that the 5-6 stops of range silver paper can reproduce. The whole art of printing then becomes how one chooses to map the huge range of the negative onto the paper.

    In this regard, I think St. Ansel's metaphor of the negative being the score and the print being the performance is a little off the mark. It's more like the negative is the score and the print is a performance by a Junior High School orchestra
    Silver Photographers Never Die, They're Just Getting Fixed

  3. #13
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: High SBR: Comparing D-23 1:1 vs. Pyrocat-HD EMA

    Too bad St Ansel never mastered masking. I don't routinely use it; but it can be an incredible optional took kit when needed.

  4. #14

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    Re: High SBR: Comparing D-23 1:1 vs. Pyrocat-HD EMA

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    Too bad St Ansel never mastered masking. I don't routinely use it; but it can be an incredible optional took kit when needed.
    I've not tried it either, but I am led to believe the adjacency effects of low agitation development provide much the same results.
    Silver Photographers Never Die, They're Just Getting Fixed

  5. #15
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: High SBR: Comparing D-23 1:1 vs. Pyrocat-HD EMA

    They're quite different, actually. And note that I mentioned masking in reference to being a whole tool kit in its own right, not just a single method. It can be tailored to many applications. But if you've discovered a method that provides you with some of the same benefits through development alone, by all means do what is most convenient for you. I have that same mentality when working with roll film. I certainly know how to mask roll film, and often have done it for sake of color printing. But that whole game is a lot more efficiently done with sheet film per se. The bigger the film, the easier and more precise registration is; the smaller, the bigger the headache instead.

  6. #16

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    Re: High SBR: Comparing D-23 1:1 vs. Pyrocat-HD EMA

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    They're quite different, actually. And note that I mentioned masking in reference to being a whole tool kit in its own right, not just a single method. It can be tailored to many applications. But if you've discovered a method that provides you with some of the same benefits through development alone, by all means do what is most convenient for you. I have that same mentality when working with roll film. I certainly know how to mask roll film, and often have done it for sake of color printing. But that whole game is a lot more efficiently done with sheet film per se. The bigger the film, the easier and more precise registration is; the smaller, the bigger the headache instead.
    It is still on my photographic bucket list, but finding a reasonably priced registration punch seems ... hard.

    Could you comment on how the results from the two approaches are quite different. I'm curious.
    Silver Photographers Never Die, They're Just Getting Fixed

  7. #17

    Re: High SBR: Comparing D-23 1:1 vs. Pyrocat-HD EMA

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Sherman View Post
    It's nice to see others pursuing a Minimal Agitation form of film processing. Since 2003 this type of film processing is the only manner in which I have processed my sheet film. So, I believe I can speak with some experience on the topic. Many of your findings are on point. There are, however, several items I don't completely find to be true in my experience.

    #1, almost never is local contrast adequate in a Normal contrast scene, therefore, the Minimal Agitation technique can alter and enhance those relationships without compromising the high values that are associated with Plus development. If by chance the final rendering of mid-tone contrast needs to be reduced, a simple addition of Green-light in the printing process with modern Multi-Contrast papers accomplishes that.

    #2, I have had conversations with Mr. Kachel regarding his philosophy, while in theory, his approach is valid, it does not take into account the difference between a film's characteristic curve compared to that of Multi-Contrast paper's potential curve. In other words and in my theory, I forsake compressing tonalities by way of development contraction so those same mid-tones can be exaggerated in a much more aggressive manner by way of MC papers. Adjacency Effects is the exact reason mid-tones can "survive" that much compression. So, while, it seems backward or unnecessary to "compress" negative tonalities only to turn around and "expand" those same tonalities in the final printing process. The steeper curve of MC papers brings those mid-tones to greater vibrancy, unlike that of simple higher negative densities. Similar to the end justifies the means." As the author states, nothing really counts until the final silver print is in hand, and that is the exact place that I speak from.

    #3, Just how much tonality a negative can "hold/record" is mostly associated with Adams's Zone System suggesting around 10 zones, that's more a product of Silver papers of the times and how much contraction the film can endure. Films have been tested to record 14-15 zones of contrast before their limits are realized. So, compressing that much contrast produces an extremely flat negative, yet, with Minimal Agitation and the exaggeration of tones by way of MC papers the limits are pushed to areas many film photographers are simply not aware exist.
    If you did not need compensation in the highlights or good shadow detail what method/developer would you choose to get good separation in the mid tones? This would apply for example if photographing a tree trunk/burr with only 3-5 zones.

  8. #18
    Steve Sherman's Avatar
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    Re: High SBR: Comparing D-23 1:1 vs. Pyrocat-HD EMA

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    They're quite different, actually. And note that I mentioned masking in reference to being a whole tool kit in its own right, not just a single method. It can be tailored to many applications. But if you've discovered a method that provides you with some of the same benefits through development alone, by all means do what is most convenient for you. I have that same mentality when working with roll film. I certainly know how to mask roll film, and often have done it for sake of color printing. But that whole game is a lot more efficiently done with sheet film per se. The bigger the film, the easier and more precise registration is; the smaller, the bigger the headache instead.
    I'm interested to know where you have seen well-done Minimal Agitation silver prints, and how many under extreme lighting conditions have seen in person ??


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  9. #19
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: High SBR: Comparing D-23 1:1 vs. Pyrocat-HD EMA

    Tundra - there are past threads on masking. I really don't want to get the subject tangled up with the immediate thread. But to give a brief clue, development controls and masking controls are not competing adversaries, but potentially complementary tools. Just more options. It's no accident that a number of significant tweaks available through Photoshop etc have been deliberately named after prior graphic arts techniques, including various forms of masking. In certain cases, the slower older true darkroom versions using actual film are still the most precise and nuanced, especially since no intermediate scanning complications are involved. All kinds of things - edge effect, microtonality, curve re-distribution, highly selective dodging/burning, highlight protection, shadow enhancement - can be done this way. And in color printing, selective hue correction, as well as specific hue enhancement vs diminishment, can be added to that list.

    But like any other skill set, there is a learning curve to it, and also a distinct equipment investment if one gets serious about it. But it's still best to have a good versatile negative on hand. It's not a substitute for proper exposure and development. Yes, there are certain remedial things that can be done this way; but masking technique really shines when it's enhancing the final outcome in print, and not merely correcting it.

  10. #20

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    Re: High SBR: Comparing D-23 1:1 vs. Pyrocat-HD EMA

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    Tundra - there are past threads on masking. I really don't want to get the subject tangled up with the immediate thread. But to give a brief clue, development controls and masking controls are not competing adversaries, but potentially complementary tools. Just more options. It's no accident that a number of significant tweaks available through Photoshop etc have been deliberately named after prior graphic arts techniques, including various forms of masking. In certain cases, the slower older true darkroom versions using actual film are still the most precise and nuanced, especially since no intermediate scanning complications are involved. All kinds of things - edge effect, microtonality, curve re-distribution, highly selective dodging/burning, highlight protection, shadow enhancement - can be done this way. And in color printing, selective hue correction, as well as specific hue enhancement vs diminishment, can be added to that list.

    But like any other skill set, there is a learning curve to it, and also a distinct equipment investment if one gets serious about it. But it's still best to have a good versatile negative on hand. It's not a substitute for proper exposure and development. Yes, there are certain remedial things that can be done this way; but masking technique really shines when it's enhancing the final outcome in print, and not merely correcting it.
    Interesting. I may have located a registration punch for reasonable dollars, so I may dive into that yet ...
    Silver Photographers Never Die, They're Just Getting Fixed

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