Workflow when printing

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by modafoto, Jan 13, 2005.

  1. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

    Oct 17, 2003
    Århus, Denma
    Medium Format

    I have been thinking about how to work the best way with a good neg...

    What do you do when you have found the neg you want to copy? Do you make workprints to check dogde'n'burn, exposure et. al. on a smaller paper than the final will be on? Are you taking your work prints out to dry and look at them for days before considering which way to print it?

    Personally I print a couple of 5"x7" on different grades and exposures to see what impact the different contrasts and light levels are having. Then I look at them for 1 minute and decide which approach I want to use. Then I crop to get the final print and calculate the relative time upon my test 5"x7" to get the impact I want. Then I print some test strips to fine tune exposure and contrast. Then I print the final print...

  2. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

    Sep 4, 2003
    Multi Format
    I print an 8x10 on RC, get close on dodge and burning then jump to the final FB paper, usually at final size. I often find that when going from smaller FB to final size, there are slight changes in contrast/density required over the calculated, sometimes because size can change how I feel it should look, so often cut out the intermediate smaller FB prints altogether. I rarely do test strips. I prefer to use a known RC (agfa premium RC) to get close (couple of sheets) and then calculate what the final FB needs. I may use an extra sheet of 16x20 this way, but then again I save a few smaller FB sheets. I dont think I work in the most efficient manner, but esp when using Forte papers, consistency is not great. I have just found out that my pack of 16x12 PWT is half a stop slower and a grade less contrasty than my 10x8, which is the first huge difference I have ever experienced. However, I have found Oriental Seagul to be the most consistent I have used. You get exactly shat you should when changing from one old pack of 8x10 to a new 16x20 for example. Ilford is pretty good too, but I personally prefer other papers. I print a final FB and then figure out how much selnium it needs and tone. If I dont end up with what I want, I go back and adjust the final print exposure etc. There is an amount of fexibility with the selnium at the end so I can normally get what I want, having printed a little soft and less dense than what I want at the very end.


  3. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Sep 9, 2002
    Bergen, Norway
    Large Format
    If I have a lot of new negatives to go through, I'll make 5x7" prints on RC just to see what's there.

    When I decide to make a print I go straight to the final size, meter carefully, and make a test print with only the most obvious burning in final size. (I'll make test strips if I open a new pack of paper or change the developer.)

    When the test print is dry and I've had a chance to look at it in decent lighting I make the first final print. If that looks good, I'm all set: Maybe I'll print a few more, maybe I won't.

    Right now I'm trying to decide whether or not to use my last 10 sheets of Bergger "Portrait" on the picture I sent in the last print exchange; the image suits the paper perfectly. And if I use the rest of the paper, I can call it a finished edition - my first!
  4. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

    Sep 22, 2002
    Omaha, Nebra
    Multi Format
    I will make a full sized test print 8x10 or 11x14 at the best estimated exposure to render highlights the way I want. I then determine the highlight that is most significant in the print and use test strips to tweak exposure for that highlight. This allows me to lay the test strips on the full print to make comparisons of the highlight area to overall contrast.

    I also will sometmes dry the prints and test strips in a microwave but I know the drydown of various papers to the point I can extrapolate the correct final exposure without doing this.

    Once I know the main exposure for highlights I decide on filtration to adjust contrast with regards to the shadows. Usually 1/3 sheet of paper covering a key area of contrast works here. I will usually go 1/2 stop over and under what I think would be the correct filter for comparison purposes.

    I then print a full size print, dry it and then determine what needs to be done for a final tweaking with dodging and burning. This is the point where I might decide to try to split filter print the negative, and decide if overall bleaching or localized bleaching might be needed.

    Then make a final proof print with toning in needed.

    After the print is dry I will flatten it and then put it away for a few days. Then looking at it fresh I can decide on how good the print is and if I accomplished what I wanted in the printing stage.

    If I know for sure at the proof stage I am going to like it, I dry that print, make notations about exposure, paper, developer filters etc on the back and on the front will use a sharpie to make notations about dodging and burning.
    Then I will print 3 additional prints. That gives me one for matting and framing for myself if I desire, one for trade or print exchange and one for whatever.

    I think it is extremely important to record all the information with the proof print and print multiples at that time if you know you like the print.

    I can get a print with 4 to 5 sheets maximum and a lot of the time less.
  5. Deckled Edge

    Deckled Edge Member

    Jan 25, 2004
    Manhattan Be
    8x10 Format
    While the 1st work print is still wet in the fixer, I shine a bright light from above and determine where the print will need more/less light. I am printing on what I think the final paper will be (I almost always contact print, so the size is a given). I will then make several more prints with dodging and burning, many of which are grossly over and under. When I have about half a dozen prints of all possibilities, I wash them and put them away to dry. Two to thirty days later, after looking at them carefully I determine where needs what, and I go back to duplicate the values.

    I keep a sharp #1 pencil next to the print frame and keep copious notes on the back of the print with exposure at each area, so I know how much exposure, dodging and burning will be required in the end.

    Next session I will print another half-dozen, each with slight variations, again with the notes. After thorough dry down I will choose the print I like the best, then write the data on the paper negative envelope as "Final Print #1" (or some envelopes are up to "Final Print #4 as I change my mind)

    What I don't do is to assume I like one work print in the fixer and print others that way. It invariably turns out that I'm wrong. I must see a whole range of prints after dry-down to decide.
  6. rbarker

    rbarker Member

    Oct 31, 2004
    Rio Rancho,
    Multi Format
    I have two slightly different work flows. The first is:

    1. determine base print exposure and contrast grade with my well-calibrated ZoneMaster II from RH Designs, and make a full-sized work print, noting the contrast grade and exposure time,

    2. dry the work print, and then mark it up with a dodge/burn plan, potentially including any desired split filtration,

    3. recompose the print under the enlarger to match the work print, and re-meter the negative so adjustments can be made for voltage fluctuations,

    4. make a final test print (just to be appropriately anal), implementing the previously determined dodge/burn plan, and check it to verify that it "worked",

    5. make the desired number of final prints, process, mat, and sell them at a huge profit.

    The second (all too frequently used) work flow is similar to the above, but eliminates the note-taking and mark-up steps, so everything is done again from scratch. The second work flow also eliminates the selling step, and replaces it with a storage step. That enables my son to discard all of the prints after I die, making him responsible for the resulting environmental impact. :wink:
  7. Soeren

    Soeren Member

    Nov 5, 2004
    Naestved, DK
    Multi Format
    The newbies work"flow" on an old Opemus standard
    I make the composition and focussing using one of those grainfocusthings from Paterson on the back of an old print.
    If the neg allows il'l make "two teststrips" on one strip using the #-1 in the "X" axis
    and #5 in "Y". most times I go 0sec,5sec,10sec,15sec etc and use intermediate times if needed. if longer times are needed ill go 10, 20, 40 etc.
    If the neg does not allow the above il'l make two strips using the standard method descriped several places. My biggest problem is lack of patience when the paper is in the developer and when drying teststrips. In the beginning I threw the strips out after each session but now I keep them to learn from eg "how did I get to this exposure, how would it look if.."
    Minor issues might be dealt with after reading your guys/gals replies.
    Thanks Morten for bringing this one up.
    Im gonna do some film/devtesting this weekend :smile:
    Regards Søren