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David Ruby

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I'm working on a print of a little boy where his cowboy hat needs severe burning in to get back some of the texture. This is a good thing because it allows me to darken some of the surrounding background that is pretty distracting. The trouble I'm having is that with taking the background darker, there are some trickier areas to darken such as around his arm and hand and even fingers (I'm afraid they will look funny if left light).

So far, I've attempted making a mask that is about 3" above the easel. I used a print set at this height to do this. Then I cut it out and mounted it on a rigid element so I could hold it. My several attempts at dogding the boy's face and arm by holding the mask didn't work due to the complexity of the shape. I then mounted the mask so it wouldn't move. This amost worked, but I can't quite to seem to get it aligned exacly perfectly. I'm thinking the exposre differences are just too different to do this subltlelly.

I've thought about burning in the areas that I need darker rather than dodging the other areas, but I've never really had much luck with burning in on such a large scale. The boy's face and arm are 12 sec's at grade 2, while the hat and the background need +40 more seconds to get texture in the white hat and to darken the background. My other thought is to "give up" so to speak and crop the image a little differently as to make the burning in easier to achieve. It is the fingers that are reallly killing me.

If this is making any sense, does someone have any suggestions? I'm probably spending way too much time on this one, but I figure it's a learning experience if nothing else.
 

Donald Miller

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Why not try making an unsharp mask? This will reduce the overall contrast of the image by raising the shadow values rather then compressing the highlights. The alternative is to preflash the paper. Preflashing the paper will compress the highlights without materially affecting the shadows. If I understand your message it seems that overall negative contrast is exceeding the papers exposure scale. That is why you are wanting to do all of the extensive burning.

Either of the above techniques will allow you to print at a higher grade paper. This will provide better local contrast.

In lieu of that you could do the "burn and dodge" type of mask that Alan Ross, Howard Bond and others use. In this type of mask the density is manually addressed while in the unsharp mask the original camera negative forms the basis of the mask.
 

photomc

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Donald, what is the difference between the unsharp mask and a Contrast Reduction Mask (CRM)? Seems like there was a recent article - VC or CA or maybe PT that discussed the CRM, the results were very dramatic in the article, but I don't understand what the difference between the is - or are they the same thing?
 

John McCallum

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There was also a possible solution of overexposing and under developing the print (pulling it early) to reduce contrast, as outlined by Les McLean .... yesterday I think.

(there was a url link here which no longer exists)

This was to aid with graded papers, but I'm sure would also be applicable for you.
 

Donald Miller

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photomc said:
Donald, what is the difference between the unsharp mask and a Contrast Reduction Mask (CRM)? Seems like there was a recent article - VC or CA or maybe PT that discussed the CRM, the results were very dramatic in the article, but I don't understand what the difference between the is - or are they the same thing?

Mike, The question that you ask is a very good question. The difference between the USM and the CRM is basically one of peak density of the mask.

In the case of the unsharp mask (USM) the peak density will typically not go beyond .35 whereas in the case of the contrast reduction mask (CRM) the peak density may be higher.

In using an USM the intended result is two fold the first is an enhancement of apparent sharpness. The second is to decrease overall effective negative density to allow the negative to be printed at a higher grade or filtration. This will increase local contrast. The benefit of this over preflashing the paper is that an USM will compress shadow tonal scale whereas preflashing the paper will compress highlight tonal scale.

In using a CRM the intended result is to compress the overall negative density range beyond that we would hope to accomplish with an USM. Additionally CRMs can be made "sharp" and also "unsharp". Sharp masks do require pin registration on the enlarger to be effective.

I hope that this answers your question.
 
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