Interpretations of a negative

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by dlin, Mar 2, 2008.

  1. OP
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    dlin

    dlin Member

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    Murray,
    That would be useful. People may be more likely to see the thread and hopefully continue to contribute.

    Thanks,
    Daniel
     
  2. Jim Fitzgerald

    Jim Fitzgerald Member

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    Daniel, good job on this thread and some great images. I always want to know what the negative looks like when I see someone's final print. The examples here are a great learning experience for everyone at all levels. The process steps that everyone takes will help people with the final visualization which is the print. This thread should be kept alive. I will have to find some negs and prints and fire up the scanner and contribute.


    Jim
     
  3. Edward Pierce

    Edward Pierce Member

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    In 2005 I attended a workshop with John Sexton where we compared prints made by the participants from identical negatives.

    A few months before the workshop, John sent us each an identical negative, with instructions to make an 8x10 print as best we could and put our name on the back.

    Upon arrival at the workshop, we handed them to John and were not allowed to see each other's prints just yet.

    By the end of the two week workshop, we were all pretty familiar with each other's work. Each of us had had our portfolios reviewed by the entire group, and we had done a lot of work together.

    On the final day, the assignment prints were lined up on the wall. To keep it interesting, John included versions made by his wife Anne and the assistant. There was a significant variety of interpretations of the same negative,

    We then had to guess which participant made which print. It was a lot of fun and very informative. The more accomplished printers had an immediately recognizable style of printing.
     
  4. Iwagoshi

    Iwagoshi Subscriber

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    Bill,
    I thought I saw this image somewhere else...hmmm..oh yeah! Fractions Magazine #3, congratulations!

    Terry
     
  5. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Here is a straight base exposure print, and the final print of my dead bird in a pothole. I found it in the late afternoon, and it had a big shadow, the sun was hitting pretty hard. Meant to come back at twilight, but wound up pretty far away and out of holders, so I came back and made the negative the next morning before sunrise, knowing that with even light, I could have my way with it in the darkroom.
     

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  6. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    Jason, the potholes where you live are very handsome! Ours look like Godzilla had a visit.

    Your interpretation fits the subject very well. I'm a fan!
     
  7. Iwagoshi

    Iwagoshi Subscriber

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    Contrary, my immediate goal is to try and make a print as good as the scan. I don't mean to mock this thread, because this is a great topic, it's just that I am not (yet) an "accomplished" printer, but would like to participate anyway (...must learn to walk before I can run, and all that.)
    First image: the scan, then the print. The print I exposed to get detail in the walkway and dodged the trees by 20%. As noted by dlin, I need to burn the right corner/edge in the next iteration.

    Terry
     

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  8. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Subscriber

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    I only have a scanner, no darkroom available. To be honest, I have never really tried to print for real. Life was easy and I was reasonable happy. Now, this thread is making it tougher.
     
  9. Poohblah

    Poohblah Member

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    the greatest joy i have found in photography is making my own prints in the darkroom. this is the reason i'm using digital less and less.
     
  10. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Thanks Chris.
     
  11. michael9793

    michael9793 Member

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    I have been printing for 40 years and still have to work hard at getting good prints. spend more time printing instead of playing with the computer and you could make better prints. i don't mean to sound cold, but anyone who tells me that they can't do something so I will take the easy way out makes me sick. you want to be a "accomplished" printer spend 8 hours a week in the darkroom for a couple of months and you'll get it.
     
  12. Iwagoshi

    Iwagoshi Subscriber

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    Michael, by "computer" and "the easy way out" I am assuming that you are referring to the use of the scanner. The scanner shows me an unbiased image of my negative, what its supposed to look like. Without it I would be chasing my tail, no way to tell me what I'm doing wrong. Eventually I hope to move beyond this stage, to be able to read and interpret the negative, and print accordingly. But I'm not there, I'm still painting by the numbers. Michael, check out post number 2 of this thread, six months ago I did not even have a scanner.

    Taking the easy way out? Not when it has taken up to 15 work prints just to get it to look like the scan, that's at 45-minutes per print.
     
  13. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If you ask me, I say you are doing it the hard way, without realizing it. Your scanner does not show an unbiased image. What your scanner will teach you is to make thin, low contrast negatives, that do not print well, but scan fine. It's great to know that if you are shooting for a scan, but in general, the best negative for a print won't scan well, and vice versa. It sounds like you are working on being a fine printer, and I'm not trying to rain on your parade, just advising in the kindest way that the scanning may well become an impediment to your developing. (hey, I made a pun!) If your goal is print making, you should be exposing and developing your negatives for your paper, not a scanner.
     
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  15. Iwagoshi

    Iwagoshi Subscriber

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    Jay, thanks for the words of wisdom, always appreciated. Your views of the thin negatives might be true if I did not contact proof (analog) my negatives. Negatives for enlarging are selected from the proofs not the scans. But I do need to check to see if there is some sort of default exposure compensation setting on the scanner.

    Terry
     
  16. OP
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    dlin

    dlin Member

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    I was on one of my walks through Eagle Creek park with my 6x6 folding camera when I came across this magnificent tree with its swirling array of branches. It was getting late and I didn't have a tripod with me, so I just opened up the lens and tried a rather long exposure handheld. The resulting negative was not really sharp anywhere, but after doing the squint test I thought there was still perhaps something interesting. Squinting removes high frequency information in the image and provides a sense of the broader graphical elements in the image. The print interpretation is based on that impression.

    Film: Ilford Delta 400 developed in Pyrocat HD
    Paper: Ilford MGWT fiber base
    Printing sequence: Main exposure made with a high contrast filter with diffusion (frosted paper overlaid on the paper). Second shorter exposure made without diffusion to solidify the shadow tones. Additional burn exposures with diffusion on either side of the trunk and bottom edge.
    Toning sequence: After a thorough wash, the print was toned in thiocarbamide with a presulfiding step.
     

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  17. Iwagoshi

    Iwagoshi Subscriber

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    Daniel,
    Wow! This is an amazing transformations. What spark (creative process) led you to use a high contrast filter with diffusion? May I ask, how many work prints?

    Terry
     
  18. OP
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    dlin

    dlin Member

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    Terry,
    I decided to print this negative with diffusion to create a more impressionistic effect because what originally caught my attention was the swirling and somewhat dizzying effect of looking up through the branches. The slight softening of all the outlines gives the appearance of movement, at least to my eye. The fine details in the scene were not particularly important. When printing with diffusion you lose quite a bit of contrast and a hard contrast filter compensates for that.

    Regarding the earlier discussion of negative scans/photoshop renditions and their role in the creative process, I consider them to be much more useful as exploratory tools rather than as benchmarks to be matched in the darkroom. I don't spend any time trying to polish a scanned/photoshopped image. Rather, I try a variety of "what if" scenarios, e.g. a high-key, low-contrast versus a low-key, low-contrast versus a full tonal-range rendition, etc. This challenges my initial visualization of the image and sometimes leads to surprising deviations (not always for the better), but it's an exploration that I enjoy. The finished darkroom print inevitably looks quite different from anything on my computer monitor and I don't worry about trying to reconcile those differences.

    I've enjoyed these discussions and I look forward to more examples and thoughts.

    All the best.
    Daniel
     
  19. Iwagoshi

    Iwagoshi Subscriber

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    Daniel,

    Thank you for the insight into your creative psych. I may have to re-evaluate the role of PS in my work flow.

    Terry
     
  20. OP
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    dlin

    dlin Member

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    Diffusion under the enlarger

    Bumping this thread. Hope to get some more examples of print interpretations.

    Magnolia blossoms
    Japanese Tea Garden, Seattle Arboretum
    Seattle, Washington

    The negative looked nice printed straight without diffusion, but didn't quite capture the mood I was after.

    Negative: 6x6cm frame on TMY-2 developed in Pyrocat HD
    Print: 8x8" on Forte Polywarmtone paper

    • Base exposure: Multigrade filter 1.0, 20% without diffusion (sheet of translucent paper [Yupo]), 80% with diffusion material laid over the paper

    • Burn exposure: Edges of the print were burned using a card 1/4 stop
    • Processing: Developed in Ansco 130, water stop, rapid fixer
    • Toning: Selenium toner (1:20) 30 seconds, thorough wash, brief bleach in ferricyanide, toned in thiocarbamide

    The degree of diffusion can be controlled several ways: the relative length of exposure with and without the diffusion material; height of the diffusion material relative to the paper; contrast filter used during the portion of the exposure with diffusion. I jiggled the diffusion material during the exposure to create a softer effect.

    Are people using other techniques to create diffusion effects? Would love to see examples.

    All the best,
    Daniel
     

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  21. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    For more info on f/stop timing see;

    http://www.darkroomagic.com/Publications/WBM/fstopTiming.pdf
     
  22. ajmiller

    ajmiller Subscriber

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    Blimey! A blast from the past. Thanks for the pdf Ralph - looks interesting. A good reason to get back into the darkroom - been out of there for too long...
     
  23. WolfTales

    WolfTales Member

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    Terrific post - great job!
    Thanks
     
  24. brianmichel

    brianmichel Member

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    Bill this is absolutely amazing, great job in the darkroom!
     
  25. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Member

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    Thanks for reviving this thread, Daniel. Your latest prints are sublime (as they always are, and I am mad that I didn't get to see you at Photostock this year.... ).

    Here is one of my examples. It is different from most examples here in that I actually remove detail from the print in the printing process, mostly to focus on the main subject matter.

    The negative is Kodak Tri-X 400, time exposed in a Holga and a cable release. Processed in Pyrocat-HD to give me more printable highlights.

    Print: Printed, slightly cropped, on Fotokemika Emaks G3 paper using Arista Liquid lith chemistry at 1+1+14 dilution, overexposed 1.5 stops in the enlarger for an increase in contrast compared to a straight print. The center portion of the sky was dodged with a round card for 15% of the exposure, and it looks a bit clumsy perhaps and that's because of the filter I used on the camera. It's a filter that's clear in the center and diffused on the edges.

    The print was further burned in about 40% along the bottom, and the top left corner was evened out with a slight dodge as I wanted the flow of the image to resemble an 'S' from top right to center bottom, but without too much emphasis on the top left.
    The center of the image was kept intentionally lighter, because I wanted that brilliant light to really hit hard, and the bridge was turned into more of a silhouette at the burning stage.

    The print was eventually split toned in sepia and selenium.

    Thanks for a great thread that I missed the first time around.

    - Thomas
     

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  26. John Simmons

    John Simmons Member

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    Hey Daniel, to answer your question about diffusion effects....the best way way I have seen to get diffusion is by using a tiffen fog filter 3 placed under the enlarging lens. If you desire a diffused image where the blacks get really diffused and turn almost "blob like" (i don't know how else to describe it)...then expose and develop to get a very contrasty negative and then use the maximum contrast setting in your enlarger.

    I will pull out an old image and post it in this thread along with my notes. Great thread daniel.

    Regards,
    John
     
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