Advice On Split Grade Printing

Ian-Barber

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I have been reading about split grade printing and how sometimes it can be beneficial. http://www.lesmcleanphotography.com/articles.php?page=full&article=21

Here are 2 test strips I have made. One on Grade 0 and the other on Grade 5, each one had a 2 second exposure. I would like advice on how best to interpret these. I think 6 seconds on the G5 looks about right for the low values.

The high values I am not sure how to deal with especially the sky. The 2 second exposure on G0 is showing pale tones which I could live with but not quite sure how to proceed.

steps-g0-g5.jpg
 

David M

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Presumably, in the final print, you will want the attractive line of surf to be quite bright, but with some delicate detail. In the six-second G-0 strip it already looks rather dark on my screen and we can't see it on the four-second strip. You might need to do another test with either half the time or a stop less, whichever you prefer. On my screen, the six-second G-6 exposure has grey surf too, although, as you say, the shadows seem OK.
Incidentally, there is no rule that the strips must be vertical. If they are angled to cross the most significant areas, the test is more useful.
If I may guess, it looks as if either it was a very grey day indeed, or the neg would have benefitted from N+X development. If I may guess again, this looks like the sort of neg that would be ideal for scanning.
 

Ian-Barber

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If I may guess, it looks as if either it was a very grey day indeed, or the neg would have benefitted from N+X development. If I may guess again, this looks like the sort of neg that would be ideal for scanning.
Yes, it was a dull day and it does scan very nice I have to say
 

martin-f5

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Ian I thought you have a Durst enlarger with a color head, so filtering is done with the color filters.
If you use this head with separate ILFORD filters you would have to check if the color spectrum of the bulb fits to them.
 

martin-f5

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they should work:

ILFORD says "Designed to work with black & white photographic enlargers and colour enlargers in white light mode."
 

Ian-Barber

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Ian I thought you have a Durst enlarger with a color head, so filtering is done with the color filters.
If you use this head with separate ILFORD filters you would have to check if the color spectrum of the bulb fits to them.
No Martin, It's a Jobo color enlarger. I am using the Ilford under the lens filters and the filters in the head are all at Zero.
 

alexmuir

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Hi Ian. I’m not a split-grade expert, but the question over filtration on your enlarger is of interest. Are your Ilford filters new? They do have a tendency to fade over time. I know this because I bought a used set to add to a second enlarger. Unfortunately they are all faded, and virtually useless. The built-in colour filters don’t tend to fade. I have to say I personally prefer the Ilford type, but only if they are working properly.
Alex


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Ian-Barber

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I would say the filters are about 2 years old now.

I think my biggest issue here is the quality of the negatives I have on 6x6. I have always chosen to make images on flat dull overcast days which in turn have produced flat narrow tonal range images.

These flat narrow tonal range images have never really been an issue to me because they have scanned well and with photoshop, I can easily increase contrast right down to pixel level.

Now I am wanting to have a go at learning some wet printing, I am realising that these flat narrow tonal range images are probably not the best for a beginner in the darkroom.
 

David M

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Martin is right. The G-5 print doesn't look like the highest contrast available. Usually, G-5 gives a soot-and-whitewash effect from a normal negative. Something is not as expected.
Have you tried making the best possible print with a single grade? It would be a good starting point. You might try using the built-in filters, perhaps.
I've had a thought: Would it be possible to post an unadjusted Levels histogram from your scan? It might give us a helpful clue.
 

Ian-Barber

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Martin is right. The G-5 print doesn't look like the highest contrast available. Usually, G-5 gives a soot-and-whitewash effect from a normal negative. Something is not as expected.
I have revisited my notes on this and I must apologise as I have fed you a red heron :)
It wasn't grade 5 it was a grade 3 1/2
 

alexmuir

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Looking at both images, I would be inclined to make a straight print for 3 seconds, perhaps at grade 3, rather than 3.5. See how that looks. You could then burn in the sky if you felt it needed more body. I know that’s not split grade printing, but it may get you to an agreeable print.
If your filters have only seen moderate use over 2years, they should be fine. I think it is exposure to the enlarger light that causes fading. You can usually tell by looking if they’re ok. They should have a distinct, uniform colour when viewed against a white background, with each shade different from the next. Their surfaces should be shiny.
Alex


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David M

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What Alex says makes sense.
A basic print time of about three seconds at G-3 or G-3.5 with some dodging and burning if needed. If it was a grey sort of day, perhaps it should be rendered as a grey sort of print.
A little burst of a true G-5 could help the deepest shadow detail, but it may be a mistake to lose the tonal softening of the distant cliffs, which must have been part of the original attraction. I don't suggest that this is "real" dedicated split-grade printing; it's mere pragmatism.
Three seconds is quite short for dodging, so perhaps about six seconds at one stop down would be more convenient.
All of us are judging from our screens so anything said here is subject to actual testing.
 
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