Emulating Clarity in Darkrrom

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Colin DeWolfe

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I'm getting some prints ready for a solo show about Antarctica. MOst of the photos will be black and white, and I've been scanning the negs to get an idea of which ones to cull and which ones to keep. A lot of the icebergs and rock are kinda low contrast and in the mid tone areas and look kinda dead. If I muck about with the Clarity slider in lightroom I get a look I like.

I know that what this slider does is manipulate the curves to create more contrast in the mid tones.

So, I figure there must be some great wisdom here. I have a copy of "The Print", but can't seem to find what I am looking for. I assume this is something I'll have to do with split contrast printing?

Colin
 
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What paper are you using? Do you have a filter set? There are a few ways to do this. More info might begat more applicable ideas.
 

MDR

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First scans do not tell you anything, you review your images on a computer screen that has little resemblance to Fiber or RC Paper so First make contact prints from the negs.
Second split grade printing is your friend as well as Selenium toner (enhances microcontrast).
Split grade use grade 4 or 41/2 for a few second and Gr. 1 1/2 to Gr. 2 for most of the printing time if you need more contrast use Grade 3 instead of 2.

Good Luck
 

L Gebhardt

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I haven't figured out how to duplicate clarity completely in the darkroom. In Photoshop a trick that gives a clarity like enhancement is to use an unsharpmask filter with a large radius and a small amount. I've been using this for a while digitally. It's on my list of things to try in the darkroom since it's so useful digitally. You do get some of the this effect with regular unsharp masking. My guess is a thicker diffusion sheet used to make a very blurry unsharp mask will give you a clarity like effect when printed at a higher contrast. Maybe try a 1/16" sheet of opaque plexiglass between the negative and the mask. That might be a bit much for 35mm, but I bet it works well for medium and large format.

Another option is to raise the contrast and print for the important mid tones. Dodge the shadows a bit and burn the highlights so it all looks balanced. This is effectively what the blurry unsharp mask should be doing.
 

Athiril

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You use the unsharp masking technique. But, except that your unsharp mask is a lot more out of focus/unsharp then normal, which will instead increase local contrast instead of sharpness/acutance/edge contrast, etc.

It's a bit easier than unsharp masking, as registration doesn't need to be as precise.
 
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