Mid Tone Contrast

Ian-Barber

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I have been photographing some English Church exteriors and looking at the negatives, there is quite a bit of Mid Tone Greys which is mainly made up of the stonework of the church.

I can get tone in the sky and some nice details in the blacks but I am finding it hard to get any good separation in these mid tones.

Any advice ?
 

David M

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The best advice is to choose a time when the light just grazes the surface, but if you have made the negatives already, it's probably a case for split grade printing.
There is always Unsharp Masking – the real version, not Photoshop, but it involves a good deal of fiddling.
 

Ian-Barber

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but if you have made the negatives already, it's probably a case for split grade printing.
Which grade of filter would affect mid tones as my understanding is that the filters act like a sea saw, one end being low contrast and the other end being high contrast pivoting in the mid tones
 

David M

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I'm not the best person to advise on split grade work. Burning in the problem area with a quick bash of No 5 would be the limit of what I can tell you. I'd do the best straight print that I could manage, erring, if anything, on the light side and then make test exposures of the burning in, like a test strip.
It's possible that intensifying the neg, by one of the various methods available, might help, but someone else would need to tell you more.
 

Ian Grant

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This is were you need advanced techniques, I'd print a Grade higher to enhance the mid tones then use flashing to control the highlight tones.

Ian
 

David M

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May I suggest that we have reached the useful limit of giving verbal advice on a verbally-expressed problem? It's so much easier if we can see the offending image. It would be even better if we could see the attempts you've already made.
 

Ian Grant

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It's usual to flash the whole print although I have done it selectively on occasions. It's a very useful technique but it's best to see it demonstrated first before wasting a lot of aper.

Essentially you need to test first the longest flashing exposure that doesn't add base fog to the print. I use my Phillips timer st to 1 second and the 0.4X factor, stop the enlarger lens to f16 (usually a second enlarger). Last time I tested it was 6 or 7 flashes before base fog was detectable. Usually I'd only flash 2 or 3 times, you do need to cut exposure slightly.

It's a technique introduce quite early on in printing workshops and is quite easy to use and learn.

Ian
 

Ian-Barber

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It's usual to flash the whole print although I have done it selectively on occasions. It's a very useful technique but it's best to see it demonstrated first before wasting a lot of aper.

Essentially you need to test first the longest flashing exposure that doesn't add base fog to the print. I use my Phillips timer st to 1 second and the 0.4X factor, stop the enlarger lens to f16 (usually a second enlarger). Last time I tested it was 6 or 7 flashes before base fog was detectable. Usually I'd only flash 2 or 3 times, you do need to cut exposure slightly.

It's a technique introduce quite early on in printing workshops and is quite easy to use and learn.

Ian
Thanks Ian, I shall have a go at that later today
 

David M

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Ian's method is the usual one and it may be the best.
Another procedure is to make a test strip for this specific print. First establish your best print without flashing. You would have to do this anyway, whatever method you were using.
Take a test-strip sized piece of paper and expose the part that needs correction to your best print time. Place a steel ruler, or something similar that won't move, along the strip and give it successive flashing exposures by whatever means you choose, at right angles to the ruler. You will need to keep count and it might be worth marking the intervals on the paper before you make the exposures.
Now develop as usual. You are looking for the first difference between the shielded paper under the ruler and the test-strip part. By using this method, you will have a choice of exposures. The advantage of this is that sometimes you might welcome a more-than-minimal effect, such as when there is a very pale sky and the horizon is too complicated for satisfactory burning. Conversely, you might have white horses on a dark sea, too many burn individually without risking haloes where the burnings overlapped.
As Ian says, you might have to adjust the main exposure slightly, too.
 

Ian Grant

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i can't remember if you have the Blakemore "Black and White Photography Workshop" book. There's an example of flashing to control a burnt out sky on pages 92 & 93. While the example is different to your scenario it works well where you need to increase overall print contrast to bring out shadow and mid tone details and as a consequence lose the highlights.

Often I'll use some light burning in as well as flashing, I use the term light because I hate obvious burning in that usually looks unnatural.

Ian
 

Ian-Barber

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i can't remember if you have the Blakemore "Black and White Photography Workshop" book. There's an example of flashing to control a burnt out sky on pages 92 & 93.
Yes I do have his book and shall go re-visit those pages. As I only have the one enlarger, am I right in thinking that you cannot flash paper and store it for later use in a black print bag.?
 

Ian-Barber

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Take a test-strip sized piece of paper and expose the part that needs correction to your best print time. Place a steel ruler, or something similar that won't move, along the strip and give it successive flashing exposures by whatever means you choose, at right angles to the ruler. You will need to keep count and it might be worth marking the intervals on the paper before you make the exposures.
Thanks David
 

Ian Grant

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Yes I do have his book and shall go re-visit those pages. As I only have the one enlarger, am I right in thinking that you cannot flash paper and store it for later use in a black print bag.?
You can store pre-flashed paper for a short time, post flashing works just as well though and it's easy to just do your normal exposure then remove the negative carrier remove filtration, stop down, adjust the timer, and do the flashing.

Ian
 

Ian-Barber

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You can store pre-flashed paper for a short time, post flashing works just as well though and it's easy to just do your normal exposure then remove the negative carrier remove filtration, stop down, adjust the timer, and do the flashing.

Ian
That might be an easier way rather than faffing about once you have established time for the enlarger height you are working at. Would it be beneficial to flash at a low grade say 00 rather than white light
 

David M

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I have heard John describe flashing a batch of paper for use later on. He first established the flashing needed for that set of prints and that batch of paper so it wasn't a general-purpose remedy. I'm not sure of the longevity but I believe it would be stable until the next day.

You can flash with one enlarger. Briefly, you leave everything as it is, with the negative still in place and put a diffuser under the lens. Anything that completely destroys the image will do. I found the thick polythene lens cap from the old-style Carousel projector worked well. A small Tupperware-type container might do it. Ian's advice on what grade to use will be better than mine. The optimum grade might be different of different situations.
 

Ian Grant

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I'd flash with no filtration, that's what I've always done. I'm sure as David says pre flashed paoer with last a day or so bu as I might vary the flashing exposure I'd only do this if making a run of prints off the same negative.

My Durst M605 has a diffuser rather than a red filter that swings below the lens for use with a colour analyser, you need a rough surface to get good diffusion.

Ian
 
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