Complicated burning or dodging tool

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BMbikerider

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I think I have at last 'cracked' the problem of burning or dodging around complicated shapes when printing B&W. Let me share it with you. Firstly insert the chosen negative into the enlarger and raise the head to the height where you are happy with the print size. and note the position on the enlarger column. Enlargers with graduated scales on the column will make this easier. Focus the image, it does not have to be perfectly sharp at this stage. Make a test print to assess the exposure.

Now lower the enlarger head so that it projects the image about 8" above the baseboard and again focus. Place a piece of plain paper or card under the light beam and draw the shape of the part of the image you want to burn/dodge. This should be larger than the smaller projected image. Use a craft knife to cut out this shape and depending what you want to do mount either the cut out part (for dodging) or the main sheet (for burning) onto a piece of thin wire.

Now raise the head up to the position you originally noted on the column and this time focus accurately. Assess you exposure time plus or minus the time for burning and dodging. For dodging, start the main exposure and slide the cut out shape into the light path so it blocks out the light to the part that will print too dark and moving it up and down and also in a small sideways motion. The correct distance to hold the cut out shape under the lens, is about the same distance that you had the enlarger head when making the drawing. This give a nice edge blur on the printing paper.

Yes it is a little long winded but if you have a shape that is 'difficult' or virtually impossible to burn or dodge easily, it is worth the effort. Likewise for burning in a section that would otherwise print too light. It takes a bit of practice to get it right but once mastered it is virtually foolproof.
 

Svenedin

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Yes, this method has been suggested to me on this forum a few times. I have a picture of Salisbury Cathedral against the sky from quite some distance away which is going to need either a burn of the sky or a dodge of everything but the sky. I intend to use this method but I have not done it yet as it is rather laborious and I am not that skilled at cutting out complicated shapes.
 

Frank53

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Have you ever tried burning a sky with the softest grade filter you have, 00 or 0?
This should not influence the darker parts of the print.
Regards,
Frank
 

MattKing

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Most likely you can accomplish the same without moving the enlarger by raising the easel instead of lowering the enlarger head.
 

Svenedin

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Have you ever tried burning a sky with the softest grade filter you have, 00 or 0?
This should not influence the darker parts of the print.
Regards,
Frank

Good tip Frank. Yes I have tried that and it works well. In fact I did it today and will post the result in the gallery when the print is dry and I can scan it.
 

Lachlan Young

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Yes, this method has been suggested to me on this forum a few times. I have a picture of Salisbury Cathedral against the sky from quite some distance away which is going to need either a burn of the sky or a dodge of everything but the sky. I intend to use this method but I have not done it yet as it is rather laborious and I am not that skilled at cutting out complicated shapes.

I'd strongly suggest trying a post-flash exposure for the sky, softly feathered across the edge of the building, or if all else fails you could try an unsharp mask.
 

Svenedin

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I'd strongly suggest trying a post-flash exposure for the sky, softly feathered across the edge of the building, or if all else fails you could try an unsharp mask.

Thank you but I don’t really know what that means. I’ve posted the picture in question in the gallery. It still needs some work.
 

Lachlan Young

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Thank you but I don’t really know what that means. I’ve posted the picture in question in the gallery. It still needs some work.

Pretty good summary here of what's involved (starts about 60% of the way down the page) - not terribly complicated, just a bit fiddly if you don't have a second enlarger or a paper flasher (RH designs/ secondhand darkroom) to hand.
 

Sirius Glass

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It is easier to just take a test print and cut out the part you want.

If you want an even easier way, just use a pencil mask.

I have done fir years that so that I could burn in the sky.
 
OP
OP

BMbikerider

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Most likely you can accomplish the same without moving the enlarger by raising the easel instead of lowering the enlarger head.

I tried that way, but it was sometimes quite difficult to get the exact degree of raising the easel, moving the head is far better. Also on the baseboard it is easier to draw in the shape you need because you are drawing on a firm baseboard.

To cut out the shape I use a sharp craft knife with a pointed blade, it doesn't have to be exactly precise. If a sheet of say 80gsm copier paper is used then it is very easy to cut.
 

MegoApesNut

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Fortunately for me, I worked as an image assembler or "stripper" in the printing industry for many years before desktop publishing on the Macintosh computers took over. Back in the days before we had Photoshop and it's fabulous pen or clipping path tool, we made masks on images by laying a piece of Rubylith on top of one of the separated negatives (usually the Magenta neg) and hand cut the masks with a razor blade or Exacto knife. We did some pretty intricate masking back in the day. When I set up my darkroom and got back into this a few years ago, the first thing I did was purchase a roll of Rubylith. I made a few masks to knock the rust off but I picked it back up in no time.
 

M Carter

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When I do this, I just put a stack of boxes/books on the easel when I determine which height gives the softness I want. I really need to see a shadow on the print to know how close or far the card needs to be. I use duplex paper (white on one side, black on the other) and mark my cuts on the white side. That also makes it very easy to align the card when exposing. Though lately I'd rather make litho masks, the control is immense, but requires a registered glass carrier.
 

Kilgallb

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Fix the neg in the carrier. A glass carrier is the best. Tape a piece of frosted mylar over the carrier. Place the carrier over a lightbox and with a pencil shade the areas you want lighter. It doesn't take much.
Tried it tonight. Works like a top. Especially for split grade printing.
 

CMoore

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Tried it tonight. Works like a top. Especially for split grade printing.
Would you mind giving a quick synopsis of your (split) routine.?
Do you start with the Soft/Yellow Filter.....and what do you look for in that exposure before you move on to the Hard/Magenta Filter.?
Thank You
 

pentaxuser

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Tried it tonight. Works like a top. Especially for split grade printing.
Glad it worked. It certainly sounds worth a try for all of us. Was this a 35mm neg or MF 645/6x6 6x7 etc?

I imagine that 35mm might be just too small. Thanks

pentaxuser
 

MarkL

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Have you considered masking? You can accomplish intricate, exact, repeatable dodges and burns. You can also make contrast-influencing masks. A masking system is ideal but you could do simple masking without one.
 
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