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

  1. #1

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

    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

  2. #2

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

    LFLarry, I can;t speak to the salt process, but you may wish to look a bit further into the differences between exposure and development increases. Both increase density, but do it in different ways, partly because sensitized salts reacting to light do not follow the same specifications as exposed salts reacting with (being chemically reduced by) developer. Exposure pushes all values up along the emulsion's sensitivity curve; hence, while low values may gain separation as they move off the toe into the straighter-line portion of the curve, the highest values may be subject to some compression. Development increase, in general, tends in increase separation (contrast) while increasing density at the same time.

    A lower dilution of your HC-110 may be in order, rather than simply a longer development time.
    Philip Ulanowsky

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  3. #3

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

    I have not thought about the lower dilution of the developer route. I will dig into that more and see if there is something there to pursue. Thanks for the idea.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ulophot View Post
    LFLarry, I can;t speak to the salt process, but you may wish to look a bit further into the differences between exposure and development increases. Both increase density, but do it in different ways, partly because sensitized salts reacting to light do not follow the same specifications as exposed salts reacting with (being chemically reduced by) developer. Exposure pushes all values up along the emulsion's sensitivity curve; hence, while low values may gain separation as they move off the toe into the straighter-line portion of the curve, the highest values may be subject to some compression. Development increase, in general, tends in increase separation (contrast) while increasing density at the same time.

    A lower dilution of your HC-110 may be in order, rather than simply a longer development time.

  4. #4
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    Re: How To Create Dense & Contrasty Film Negs For Alt Prints?

    # 1...Do not use HP5+. It expands, but slower/less than other films.

    #2...Use FP4+ and Ilford Universal PQ developer at close to paper strength. Or Dektol (1:2, 1;1 or even straight depending on your starting SBR).

    #3...or use a staining developer to increase selective UV blocking.

    #4...since you have HP4+, give #2 a try.

    Below: 4x10 negative developed in straight Dektol, printed in carbon (which can handle more contrast than any other process.) PS...someone scanned this neg and printed a 7 foot tall inkjet copy -- nice grain.

    Many alt processes handle deep shadow detail wonderfully -- and it is worth giving extra exposure to get 'dense' negatives to take advantage of this. The thinnest possible negative to achieive a good print sounds good for silver gelatin printing, does not always give you the best print in other processes.
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    Re: How To Create Dense & Contrasty Film Negs For Alt Prints?

    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.






    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn View Post
    # 1...Do not use HP5+. It expands, but slower/less than other films.

    #2...Use FP4+ and Ilford Universal PQ developer at close to paper strength. Or Dektol (1:2, 1;1 or even straight depending on your starting SBR).

    #3...or use a staining developer to increase selective UV blocking.

    #4...since you have HP4+, give #2 a try.

    Below: 4x10 negative developed in straight Dektol, printed in carbon (which can handle more contrast than any other process.) PS...someone scanned this neg and printed a 7 foot tall inkjet copy -- nice grain.

    Many alt processes handle deep shadow detail wonderfully -- and it is worth giving extra exposure to get 'dense' negatives to take advantage of this. The thinnest possible negative to achieive a good print sounds good for silver gelatin printing, does not always give you the best print in other processes.

  6. #6
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: How To Create Dense & Contrasty Film Negs For Alt Prints?

    The way I make carbon prints (whether right or wrong...it's the prints that matter) takes similar negs (around 2.8 to 3.0 density range). I print with a raised relief, and by having healthy negs, I can have pure black shadows that have detail in them in the form of relief.

    Paper developers are more active developers than film developers. And I believe Dektol was considered a 'universal' developer at one point.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

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

    Another approach would be to start with a contrasty film and working your way DOWN -- Tech Pan, LITH, etc. comes to mind -- instead of using a normal contrast film and working your way UP.

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

    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.


    Quote Originally Posted by xkaes View Post
    Another approach would be to start with a contrasty film and working your way DOWN -- Tech Pan, LITH, etc. comes to mind -- instead of using a normal contrast film and working your way UP.

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

    Double sided X-ray film is made to build contrast with it's two layers, but still can produce normal contrast depending on developer/development...

    Steve K

  10. #10
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: How To Create Dense & Contrasty Film Negs For Alt Prints?

    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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