Creating contrast when printing very underexposed negatives.

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by tmgreenhalgh, Jan 4, 2014.

  1. tmgreenhalgh

    tmgreenhalgh Member

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    Hello,
    I have been trying to print some very underexposed negatives. When printing I am finding it had to create some serious contrast to avoid the dark grey taking over the print. I have been using a 5 multigrade filter yet there still seems to been alot of dark grey with like white.

    I would really appreciate any advice on the matter on creating more black and white in the print.

    Thank you,
    Tom
     
  2. mrred

    mrred Member

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    Did you try an intensifier for the negatives?
     
  3. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    Selenium toning the negatives will add contrast and is not so drastic as intensifying them.

    When printing, dodge the highlights to make them visibly brighter and extensively burn-in any shadows where there is very little (or no) shadow detail to achieve a 100% black.

    Use a strong developer such as Dokumol diluted at 1 + 6.

    Develop for at least three minutes for Fibre-based paper and at least 1.5 minutes for Resin-coated papers (turn your safelights off during the middle of the developing time if you have not tested them for how long they are safe for - incorrect installation, wrong colour, too near positioning of safelights will make your highlights go grey).

    You can then do the following to increase contrast on the print if still required:
    • Use a Chromium Intensifier.
    • Use Farmer's Reducer tho selectively brighten the highlights.
    • Tone in Selenium toner.


    Best of luck,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  4. momus

    momus Member

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    Best of luck w/ them. I find that my underexposed/underdeveloped negs scan well but are a heart breaker in the darkroom. Granted I am not a master printer, but hopefully the tips here will help you, and me, on this. It's aggravating because you can see the images very nicely w/ a loupe, but transferring that image into a print is something else.
     
  5. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    You are between a rock and a hard place.

    You will need to accept the loss of shadow detail and go for the highlight detail.

    There are many printers that would say... f...k the shadows.

     
  6. piu58

    piu58 Member

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    You can squeeze a litle more contrast by
    - usage of more concentrated developer
    - longish devlopment time, just before teh borderst start to get grey or yellow.
     
  7. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I don't know how important those negatives are but if they are really important to you copying them on to duplicating film such as x-ray duplicating film which tends to be more contrasty might help. It is a reversal film so you have to do the opposite. More exposure will yield a "lighter" negative thus a darker print and less exposure a "darker" negative and lighter print. You could also make a digital negative on transparent film such as Pictorico OHP. If you can re-shoot at a better exposure that would be the easiest way to go.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  8. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    High contrast paper developer can get you beyond grade 5 (like Lith developer). I'd try that first, before intensification.
     
  9. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    Another technique to increase negative contrast is to bleach-redevelop using a staining developer such as PMK or Pyrocat.

    The technique involves completely bleaching the silver image on the negative using a rehalogenating bleach of potassium ferricyanide and potassium bromide. This changes the silver image into silver bromide, which is a light-sensitive silver halide. Since you do this in room light, the silver image is exposed and ready to develop. After bleaching, then, you simply develop the negative to completion in your staining developer.

    The result is the silver image plus the stain from the staining developer. This extra stain adds density and contrast.

    I use the technique now and then with good success for rescuing underexposed negatives. You cannot use this technique in combination with selenium toning of the negative, as the toning solution removes the stain.

    Best,

    Doremus
     
  10. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    If a chemical intensification goes wrong, you may ruin your original negative. Perhaps a safer method of increasing contrast would be to make a duplicate negative through an inter-posotive contact print on ortho film and then sandwich the original and duplicate negative together in a glass negative carrier and print that. Also, use a condenser enlarger with the highest magenta filter value you have.
     
  11. paul ron

    paul ron Subscriber

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    Selenium toner will boost the contrast but you'd have to do a but of experimentation to get the desired level. So screwing it up will lose that one n only shot at salvaging it.

    Increasing the paper grade n using various developers would be the safest route... And a real learning adventure.

    Good luck n hope to see you post the finished product.
     
  12. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    High quality papers which are silver-rich can also simply be developed longer (like 4 min vs 2 min), or in a more concentrated developer, to
    achieve higher contrast. But if your negs are exceptionally thin, you will probably need to use a combination of tricks.
     
  13. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    Certainly, all the above but also:

    Sometimes I slightly overexpose a print and develop fully. Then, after fixation, in diluted Farmers' Reducer (single solution) I bring back the tones to their normal level. A bonus here is s slight increase in contrast. - David Lyga
     
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  15. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I even apply that Farmer's stunt to film applications, but never on an original neg - only on something second generation like a mask or dupe.
    Not all print papers are equally responsive to Farmer's, and with some of them you'll get a hue or tone shift in the application area due to
    dissolving the silver finer, apparently. But it is chemistry I always keep on hand in the darkroom.
     
  16. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Chromium Intensifier

    Intensifier for underdeveloped negatives

    Water 950 ml
    Potassium Bichromate 85 g
    Hydrochloric Acid 60 ml

    Mixing instructions: Add chemicals in specified sequence. Always add acid to water.

    Use: Immerse negative until the image is thoroughly bleached, then redevelop in any standard print developer. Fix as normal. This process can be repeated for further intensification.
     
  17. frotog

    frotog Member

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    Scan it.
     
  18. jtk

    jtk Subscriber

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    Yes, scan it. The easiest and perhaps generally best next step would be post-processing with Nik (free online from Google).
     
  19. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    Almost four-year-old thread... I imagine this particular problem is no longer pressing. Nor do we need advertising for Nik...
     
  20. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi tom

    thin negatives? it really depends how thin ...
    sometimes you just do what you have to do... and realize that
    highlights in the shadows might not be needed all the time...
     
  21. jtk

    jtk Subscriber

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    Nik is better than sliced bread...the company has just been bought, but the buyer promises to continue free availability.

    Sorry you're so unhappy.
     
  22. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    Nothing against Nik per se; it's just that you're posting in a 100% analog forum...

    ...and I'm very happy :smile:

    Doremus
     
  23. Nodda Duma

    Nodda Duma Subscriber

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    I had this same problem over the weekend. I printed to grade 5, but only had PolymaxT developer on hand. Got what I wanted by underexposing the print and judiciously selenium toning
     
  24. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I would suggest that far more people doing self-processing experience thin negatives rather than the reverse, probably 80% v 20% if not higher. This just goes to show how inaccurate development tables/statements are compared with adjusting development to your own personal experience.
     
  25. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Past a certain point I have not been able to recover a thin negative. I shoot box speed to make sure that I have enough exposure latitude. Good luck.
     
  26. jtk

    jtk Subscriber

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    Amusing that it's impossible to post on APUG without resorting 100% to digital. I come from a Minor White kind of background, which means that the viewer's response is more significant than the photographer's intent...or camera/tech obsession :smile: Seems to be no other way to address this century meaningfully with Photrio. I do take part in frequent B&W print exchanges...by definition we care about print-in-hand rather than digital hot air (like the former APUG).
     
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