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Thread: How To Create Dense & Contrasty Film Negs For Alt Prints?

  1. #11
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: How To Create Dense & Contrasty Film Negs For Alt Prints?

    Some Alt Printers and some 'important' ones now use DIGI Negs

    BUT some should study a certain Canadian that works wonders and has posted his all film process more than once

    He makes it look easy

    it is not
    Tin Can

  2. #12

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    Re: How To Create Dense & Contrasty Film Negs For Alt Prints?

    I’ve done more albumen than salt printing, but my thoughts would be the same.

    I don’t think you need a more dense negative. More contrast, yes, but not more overall density.

    I think the density idea came from Michael A. Smith’s use of old Super XX film which had fogged. He wrote about using a 300w bulb to print through his negatives on to Azo. I have no idea what UV bulb would be an equivalent, but printing times would be significant. I’ve found my more normal density, but contrasty, negatives to print in much more reasonable times.

  3. #13

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    Re: How To Create Dense & Contrasty Film Negs For Alt Prints?

    Last fall I went in pursuit of the same goals - to make the ideal negatives for salt printing. I studied what materials I could and found many of the same ideas repeated. That includes: use FP4, not HP5, because HP5 has a much denser film/fog base which makes printing shadow details unnecessarily difficult with salt.
    I settled on using PMK as the developer at a 2:2:100 dilution to achieve the needed density (plus the Pyro stain helps a lot to create the right UV blocking for salt contrast).

    I suggest you take a look at Ellie Young’s document for some excellent ideas.

  4. #14

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    Re: How To Create Dense & Contrasty Film Negs For Alt Prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by LFLarry View Post
    Hi Vaughn, I was not aware I could use a paper developer like Dektol to develop film, so I definitely learned something here. It makese sense by lowering the dilution or even stock would increase the density and contrast.

    I will give that a try at various dilutions to include stock and see how that goes.

    Salt printing requires the most dense and contrasty negatives of all the alt processes based on my understanding, so I may have my work cut out for me.

    Thank you for the ideas.
    I have been making salt prints for about 25 years. They do not require a "dense" negative. They require a negative with a very long scale, which means the highlights require significantly more density than do the important shadows. If the shadow densities are high, they only increase the printing time. Shadows only need to be dense enough to print the preferred detail. In other words, the shadows need appropriate exposure, and the highlights need appropriate development which is often more than whatever is considered "normal".
    These requirements are best met with FP4+ which expands (increases separation between shadows and highlights) much better than do faster films like HP5+. Slower films, by their nature expand better than do fast ones. I prefer FP4+ for general use, but I also use a lot of orthochromatic films.

  5. #15

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    Re: How To Create Dense & Contrasty Film Negs For Alt Prints?

    I’d keep it simple I start and only make it more complicated if required.

    HC-110 is a good choice in a film developer for this since you have it on hand. Rodinal would also work well. Ilford PQ universal or most print developers will work very well. Then if you need more density you can try intensification.

    HP5 is not the “best” for this. The best I can think of would be Kodak TXP, but Kodak sheet film is expensive. If you wanted to use an ortho film, Ilford Ortho would be a good choice, but is slower than TXP.

    I wouldn’t want to use ortho-litho films in-camera (ortho, too slow, short scale and finicky) but that’s me.

    You can also dup a negative to expand density range but that’s more involved and a pain.

    Quote Originally Posted by LFLarry View Post
    Hi, I am wanting to explore some alternative salt printing and I know that I am going to need a much more dense and contrasty negative.

    I want to test on my 4x5 and then eventually use my 8x10.

    What is the best way to create much more dense and higher contrast negatives?

    I will be using Ilford HP5 film and HC-110 as my developer because that is what I have, so i would appreciate the comments being focusd on this film and developer.

    To create more dense negatives, I assume I will give it more exposure time?

    For more contrast, I assume I would just develop the film for longer times?

    I understand I will have to do a lot of testing, which I will do, I just want to make sure I am headed in the right direction with my methods to create the more dense and contrasty negatives.

    Thank you

    Larry

  6. #16

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    Re: How To Create Dense & Contrasty Film Negs For Alt Prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by LFLarry View Post
    I was thinking about Ortho-Litho in a paper developer. I am in line with the idea for sure. Part of me wants to see if I can reach my vision with a lower contrast film like HP5 since I have a ton of it on hand, but if it isn't the right choice, I am always willing to use a better tool for the job. The thing that I don't like about the Ortho-Litho film is that it is so darn thin and prone to be easily damaged, but I assume if that were the best choice, I would figure out how to manage that issue.

    Thanks for your ideas.
    If you decide to use ortho-litho films, don't use paper developers which will increase the contrast range to essentially unusable.

  7. #17
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    Re: How To Create Dense & Contrasty Film Negs For Alt Prints?

    I was keeping away from mentioning too many films, but my last backpack trip (a couple weeks ago), my 4x5 holders were loaded up with Kodak Professional Copy Film (#4125, ASA 25). Talk about contrast control! I have developed 6 and have 12 more to do...the first batch to narrow down the development for the rest. It was much sunnier than I expected (rain one night, tho), so more scene contrast than expected.

    I have used it before in 4x5 and 8x10, but one never knows how it ages. The pack I used was dated 10/1999. Pleased, very little base fog, unlike the box of 8x10 I am working on. Below is a straight carbon contact print from 8x10 copy film. Scene read 9 to 12 on my Pentax spot meter, and exposed at 10. That is one stop more than I would normally give a film, and this film takes that one stop and uses it to bump up the high values. The shadows are controlled more by development. Another neg of the scene I exposed at 11 prints nicely in platinum and I could probably control the contrast for a silver gelatin print. So good continous tone -- but since it is ortho and does respond to light differently, it might have a slightly different look. Looks good to me.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails ManyPools.jpg  
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  8. #18
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: How To Create Dense & Contrasty Film Negs For Alt Prints?

    ???? I haven't used any 4125 copy film for the past 30 yrs, and even then the box was old. Did you somehow manage to steal that from a touring King Tut tomb artifact exhibition, Vaughn? Or more likely, that nice shot you just posted actually represents the tunnel you used to raid a different Egyptian tomb.

  9. #19
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    Re: How To Create Dense & Contrasty Film Negs For Alt Prints?

    I'd also suggest dektol, pyrocat hd, pyrocat hdc, pmk pyro, etc.. For the pyro developers, discard the develop when it's stop bath time (no second dip). The staining developers add density proportional to the silver, so a basic darkroom contact print will not see the additional density, but a UV based contact print will be greatly affected.

  10. #20

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    Re: How To Create Dense & Contrasty Film Negs For Alt Prints?

    Hi Drew, I think you quantified the challenge at hand very well. It is sort of ironic that we have such a struggle to create the dense and contrasty negatives that were commonplace during the periods using modern panchromatic films when these printing processes were in their prime. I am starting to get the feeling that FP4 in HC110 may be a good path to pursue. I was hopeful I could use what I have on hand (HP5 and HC110), and I am going to at least test this to see what happens. If I can't get there with what I have, then I will explore other options like FP4, etc.

    Thanks

    Larry



    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    It's really tricky to make full scale negs on Ortho Litho or Tech Pan. Yeah, achieving high contrast per se is super easy. But retaining detail in the upper highlights and deep shadows is a near impossibility. And lith films are hard to develop without a lot of streaking and blotchiness, especially in a paper developer like Dektol. Of course, artsy types do that sort of thing all the time, seeking some unpredictable "funky" look. Just so you know the difference. Tech Pan is no longer made, though I have a stash of 8x10. And Ortho Litho is even thinner, so tends to seat sloppy in a conventional holder, but it's cheap. It's better to go with a full scale regular pan film that is tolerant of relatively high contrast development if you want predictability and a reasonable film speed. The advantage of HC-110 is that it works well over a very wide range of dilutions, and it gets along well with Arista Ortho Litho.

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