Maybe you've never tried graded paper...?

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Doug Bennett

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I had never tried graded paper. I just assumed that stocking paper in several different grades was too costly, and too much of a PITA, so I stuck with fiber based VC paper.

Somehow recently, I stumbled on the web page of an east coast photographer named Paul Raphaelson, who stated that all his prints were made on Forte Fortezo grade 3 paper. Paul was kind enough to share some of his experience with me.

I'm in the thick of printing for a show, and bought some Fortezo grade 3 glossy. Amazing stuff! With VC paper, I often found that slight variations in exposure made the difference between a decent print and a throwaway. With this paper, there is a wide variation in what will make a good print. The highlight rendition is just fabulous, and the blacks are ..... really black. I've never had such a productive print run. So far, being limited to one grade has not been a problem: I'm printing my best negatives, which tend to be properly exposed and developed.

So, if you've never tried graded paper and/or never tried fiber, give it a go. It's a whole different world.
 

Tom Stanworth

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I'm not sure they are all so good tho. I use G3 fortezo and it is in a league of its own I agree - you should try it with pyro type negs! I found Bromofort to be a real let down tho and totally unremarkable. Oriental Seagull gragded is great too and good deal colder than their VC.
 

ann

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And here i thought i was only one of the few dinosaurs left.:rolleyes:
 

doughowk

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For past few months I've been using graded paper (Oriental Seagull fiber) & love the tones. Have only used grades 2 & 3 so far. Also started using split development (or two bath) that enables me to vary the contrast within a single grade. So far, have tried Edwal Ultra Black in combination with Agfa Neutol. I believe there are some other techniques available for altering contrast within a single grade - need to peruse the books.
 

philldresser

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Doug

About 18 months ago I won an ebay auction of 200 sheets of Ilford paper 12X16 grade 3. I was extremely hesitant to use it but really pleased when I did. I agree that the exposure latitude is wider (or more acccomodating) and found this to be quite a bonus when 'finding my feet' in the darkroom after a prolonged abscence (20 years :sad: ). Some of my best renditions have been on that paper. However it gets even better when you 'know' the paper/dev combination and you use fstop timing. To me my image making (darkroom work esp) came on leaps and bounds by using graded paper.

Phill
 

Les McLean

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doughowk said:
For past few months I've been using graded paper (Oriental Seagull fiber) & love the tones. Have only used grades 2 & 3 so far. Also started using split development (or two bath) that enables me to vary the contrast within a single grade. So far, have tried Edwal Ultra Black in combination with Agfa Neutol. I believe there are some other techniques available for altering contrast within a single grade - need to peruse the books.

Try overexposing and under developing the paper to reduce the contrast and change the print colour particularly with warm tone papers. Start by making the best print you can giving full exposure and say 3 minutes development in a single bath developer. Having done that double the exposure and reduce the development by something like 60% and compare the print with the first one made. You will have to experiment to produce the exact contrast you like but the above is a good starting point. You also need to start with a negative that shows good contrast.

Another useful dodge with graded paper is to use a harder grade than you think is best for the image, say grade 4 instead of 3, make a test strip to determine tonality etc and develop the print in either soft and hard two bath developer or use water bath with a normal developer. The end result will be a print with contrast somewhere between 3 and 4. I find this dodge useful when printing snow scenes and want the zip of grade 4 but don't want the darker tones to be too black. The soft developer or water bath prevents that. Again you need to experiment to get the print to you taste.

Using a very dilute normal developer will also help control and change contrast and print colour. For example instead of 1 to 3 use 1 to 30 and increase the exposure and development times.

Have fun
 

Tom Hoskinson

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And, of course, there is contact printed Azo, developed in MS Amidol...
 
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Doug Bennett

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Thanks, all. Yes, I want to try some of these tricks to play with the contrast. But for now........ man, the prints are just falling out of the enlarger! With VC paper, I could never get delicate highlights while still having a deep black somewhere in the print. No problem with this stuff.

Hopefully, in light of the difficulties at Ilford and Agfa ( and who knows about Kodak), these smaller companies can continue to suceed in their niches.
 

Peter Schrager

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I recently contact printed 25/ 5x7 pyro negatives for a show. Using a regular cold lite; non VC, I slipped a #3 V.C. filter in with a #3 graded paper to slightly reduce the contrast. Worked beautifully. You can get slight variances with this combination. Graded paper is great stuff!
 
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Doug Bennett

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The other interesting thing: when I look at these prints, I don't think "warmtone," even though Fortezo is marketed as a warmtone paper. I'm using Dektol instead of my usual Formulary 130, which seems to cool it some. But by comparison, Ilford Warmtone is really objectionalbe, IMHO.
 

philldresser

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Doug Bennett said:
Thanks, all. Yes, I want to try some of these tricks to play with the contrast. But for now........ man, the prints are just falling out of the enlarger! With VC paper, I could never get delicate highlights while still having a deep black somewhere in the print. QUOTE]

Doug

Have you tried split contrast printing? If not check out Les Macleans book and read that chaper, then spend a night in the Darkroom with 5 negs that you have been dissapointed with. This method helped me acheive my minds eye images from my negs on VC where straight VC printing failed.

Phill

Les, you can pay my commission in Oct :smile:
 
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Doug Bennett

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Yes, Phil, I have played with split filtering, with decent results. But I always tended to get a "soot and chalk" look. Not a hint of soot and chalk with this paper.

There's another active thread, something like "What Kind of Photographer Are You?" In some ways, I'm a Lazy Photographer, and this paper appeals to my lazy side. Or maybe I just like things to be as simple as possible.

My other recent Lazy/Simple move was switching to TF-4 fixer and throwing away the hypo clear.
 

Jeanne

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Another Fortezo 3 user here -- couldn't live without it, and use it for just about everything. I switched about a year ago when Luminos changed their graded papers to a sort of all-purpose grade 2.5 (which didn't suit my purposes at all). I'm not exaggerating when I say its like spreading butter on warm bread -- and I am glad to hear that someone else is having the same experience.

For those of you who are using Fortezo 3, are you finding you have to use very dilute selenium toner? I'd love to get a sense of other users' experience in that department. Times, dilutions, effects.
 

ann

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Les has already mentioned one method to assist one when using graded paper. Underexposing and overdeveloping. There are a couple of others; different developers as has been mentioned or Beers developer and/or adding potassium carbonate, ir a 10% solution of bromide , or a combination of carbonate and bromide.

one advantage of being aged :cool: you learned to print on graded paper and with limited means learned about a series of "tricks" along with making consistence negatives.
 
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Doug Bennett

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Jeanne,

I'm using my usual 1:9 dilution for selenium toner. However, based on an earlier experience w/Forte Polywarmtone, I kept a close eye on it. I found that 3-1/2 to 4 minutes was fine, but as I approached 5 minutes, the color change started to take off. Like the Polywarmtone, it goes red. Just the slightest hint of the red, however, is kind of nice.
 

Peter Hogan

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Listen to Les; he knows what he's talking about.....and I'm still extolling the virtues of Ilford Ilfospeed - it's an RC paper, but graded. Semi-matt is best. Tones like a dream, too. Try it while you can.
 

Tom Stanworth

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With the fortezo/PWT youre right, you have to watch like a hawk with selenium to prevent it looking like it has beeen copper toned. I find that using a powerful spotlight on the print as it tones help a great deal to see the effect on colour styarting to build as it opens up shadow detail far more than light of normal viewing intensity. Once a touch of colour is seen it is time for me to pull it. By the time drydown has taken place and the print is displayed under less harsh light, the effect is about right for me.
 

Les McLean

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Tom Stanworth said:
With the fortezo/PWT youre right, you have to watch like a hawk with selenium to prevent it looking like it has beeen copper toned. I find that using a powerful spotlight on the print as it tones help a great deal to see the effect on colour styarting to build as it opens up shadow detail far more than light of normal viewing intensity. Once a touch of colour is seen it is time for me to pull it. By the time drydown has taken place and the print is displayed under less harsh light, the effect is about right for me.


When I did use Forte paper years ago I kept a bottle of quite old well used selenium toner to control the speed that the paper took the toner, it worked OK.
 

Ian Grant

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Doug Bennett said:
I'm in the thick of printing for a show, and bought some Fortezo grade 3 glossy. Amazing stuff! With VC paper, I often found that slight variations in exposure made the difference between a decent print and a throwaway. With this paper, there is a wide variation in what will make a good print. The highlight rendition is just fabulous, and the blacks are ..... really black.

Well having switched from Agfa Classic after about 18 years of using only Record Rapid - fixed grade until its replacement by the Multi Contrast Classic I'll add my comments.

I've switched to Classic Polywarmtone (Forte & Bergger its the same emulsion, J&C sell it in US) I only use FB papers. I'm currently printing for an exhibtion at breakneck speed. . . . .

1 Like you I've found that I need to make significant shifts in exposure to increase or decrease overall density, the Agfa papers were far more sensitive.

2 I'm getting a far greater tonal range in a print and haven't had to resort to flashing to tame highlights.

3 Unlike you I'm using a variable contrast paper to the same ends, but then it's the same manufacturer - Forte so we should be getting similar results.

4 I push & pull my prints to vary image colour & tonality, I had the same school of mentors as Les McLean.

5 Like Jeanne Forte papers seem to react quickly to Selenium toning. 3 mins is the rough break point when freshly topped up.

Have to say that my (photographer) friends are saying my new prints are my best yet, and when I stick new prints on Forte alongside the old cadmium based Record Rapid I have to agree.
 

Donald Miller

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Typically other then the dmax and dmin that a given paper (VC or graded) will deliver the only other variable factor is the exposure scale, as expressed in the curve at a given grade, of the paper.

What I am addressing is that a graded paper may very well give deeper blacks and better separation through adjacent tonalities and it may very well not give them. The only true factual answer is to test the paper to determine the exposure scale and then to match the negative density range to the exposure scale of the paper. Everything else is pure and simple conjecture.

I use both graded and variable contrast materials in my work.
 

Ian Grant

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Donald Miller said:
Typically other then the dmax and dmin that a given paper (VC or graded) will deliver the only other variable factor is the exposure scale, as expressed in the curve at a given grade, of the paper. .

NO you've missed out another extremely important variable the type of development.

Essentilally a Warm tone developer is a finer grain paper developer, by over exposing and underdeveloping you can get still finer grain - and so even warner toned images.

Les McLean's earlier post tells yopu how.
 

Donald Miller

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Ian Grant said:
NO you've missed out another extremely important variable the type of development.

Essentilally a Warm tone developer is a finer grain paper developer, by over exposing and underdeveloping you can get still finer grain - and so even warner toned images.

Les McLean's earlier post tells yopu how.

Ian,
If you will take the time to reread what I stated, I addressed the characteristics of graded to variable contrast paper. That is what I meant to address since that was the basis of this thread.
 

Ian Grant

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Donald Miller said:
Ian,
If you will take the time to reread what I stated, I addressed the characteristics of graded to variable contrast paper. That is what I meant to address since that was the basis of this thread.

Correct, no dispute there. But you were also comparing different manufacturers as well as you obviously had not used Forte papers before. I was merely pointing out that I found exactly similar experiences, using Forte's variable grade papers compared to Agfa papers.

You still seem to be missing Les McLean's point about developers and development / exposure being an extremely important factor.

Maybe it's a more European thing about image quality we exert a different type of control
 

Donald Miller

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Ian Grant said:
Correct, no dispute there. But you were also comparing different manufacturers as well as you obviously had not used Forte papers before. I was merely pointing out that I found exactly similar experiences, using Forte's variable grade papers compared to Agfa papers.

Nope, I didn't mention any specific manufacturers at all in my post. I have used Forte as well as a number of other papers. I did not dispute your post.

You still seem to be missing Les McLean's point about developers and development / exposure being an extremely important factor.

Nope, not missing Les's point at all. The developers and development/exposure variable applies to all materials and is not involved in a direct comparison of variable contrast to graded materials.

Maybe it's a more European thing about image quality we exert a different type of control

I can't comment on that because I have no knowledge of how Europeans view things...but I find that photographic materials are consistantly and generally the same whether they are manufactured and used in Europe, United States, SE Asia, Mexico, or South America. For that reason the same direct comparison of graded to variable contrast materials would seemingly apply.

My original thesis was that it would take direct sensitometric evaluation of the differing paper types; that, from that analysis, the negative must be optimized to the proper correlation between negative and printing paper to arrive at a factual comparison. Anything less is purely and simply conjecture. I remain steadfast in that position.
 

Ian Grant

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Donald Miller said:
My original thesis was that it would take direct sensitometric evaluation of the differing paper types; that, from that analysis, the negative must be optimized to the proper correlation between negative and printing paper to arrive at a factual comparison. Anything less is purely and simply conjecture. I remain steadfast in that position.

Thats very interesting as thats the very first time any of that's been mentioned in this post.

Zone system tests get you to the same end point just as fast, at the end of the day it's the images that matter not the measuring of everything with a densitometer.

However each to their own

Ian
 
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