The best solution here would have been N- development, so I would try to reshoot if possible. If you haven't worked out film speeds and development times for N- development for your preferred film (sometimes it helps to increase exposure with shorter development times to support the shadows), it would pay to run some tests first or bracket and make duplicate exposures, so that you can adjust development time after viewing the negs.
I haven't done much flashing at the print stage, but that is a technique that Les uses, so look at his book to see what he says.
Alternately there is contrast masking, if you've got the registration equipment.
If I understand your situation, you have a negative which is too high in contrast to print properly. If flashing doesn't work for you, then you may be able make an unsharp mask (unsharp positive of your camera negative) that would then be printed in a sandwhich with your camera negative to compress the contrast range of your camera negative. This would have the added effect of granting additional apparent sharpness within the print.
If you don't want to go to the bother of doing that, then you may want to return and reshoot the scene with your 4X5 and probably look to doing a pre-exposure of the film through a diffusion plate at a Zone III value (to support the shadow details) then follow that with a second exposure (without the diffusion panel) on the same sheet of film as the normal scene brightness would indicate.
The effects of this can be readily determined, for yourself, by assigning a value of one to a zone one placement, a value of two to a zone two placement, and a value of four to a zone three placement. Since additional stops of exposure are doublings of the previous value the zone three preexposure through the diffusion panel will have virtually no effect of added exposure at the higher zones.
This may still require a minus development (if the high values would be exposed too high). This would of course be determined by the metered values at the time of the exposure.
The effects of pre-exposure of the film can be observed in my image "Doorways" which is in the critique gallery. The scene brightness range of this image was on the order of 13 stops. Yet, the negative prints very nicely on grade two paper.
Hope that this helps. Good luck.
I doubt very much that Bruce Barnbaum will teach the unsharp mask techniques. He has a long time feud with the the guy that teaches that. Shit, my mind is a blurr. He lives in Michigan. l just don't remember his name. Someone will help me here. Bruce is a pretty explosive and dominate personality type and if were me I might not even mention it. I would take the neg and try and get him to print it for you.
The guy that teaches masking is Howard Bond, and his technique is very usefull. As to Barbaum, he is a wonderful printer but IMO opinion he does a lot of things by the seat of the pants and experience. Let us know how the workshop goes.
For your neg, just waint until they come up with the enlarging head for azo....
I have not met Mr. Burnbaum. But your depiction of his personality leads me to an understanding of how a conflict could arise between him and Mr. Bond. Since Mr. Bond, whom I have met, has some of the same personality traits. Does every well known photographer at some point in his or her evolutionary cycle turn into an a**h***? I wonder....
I don't know what A**H*** is but I have heard that he is an ass hole. Oh, I just figgered it out! =[8^))). It is Howard Bond. I did not know that Howard is an explosive type also. Have you seen all the new prints from Mr. Bond that some have said are over unsharp masked? I have not done much of that but intend to after I move into the new dr.
I have been thinking about this for awhile. Go to school and reprint this photo on vc paper like you have so far. Do you have a green filter in for any of your cameras? IF so, use it to re-expose the hot area and see if you can tone it down some. The dark area should not be too affected by the green filter. If it is try lightening it some and let the rest compensate.
If it were me and it is not, I would start over. Sometimes you just have to admit that it was a good idea and poor execution. It is no crime or indication of your level of expertise. Sometimes it is just the way it is. Sorta that Zen thing happenin'. "Sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn't" Quote from "Little Big Man".
My advice to help solve the contrast problem would be to print it on VC paper and burn in the highlight using grade 5, (yes grade 5) and then post flash it. If you have my book look at the image First Communion in Chapter 5 page 118 to see the effect and how to do it.
When you burn in so called blocked up highlights with grade 5 only the darker tones are affected by the increased exposure and an increase in detail is the result. The object of the post flash is to introduce a very delicate tone in an otherwise paper base white area of the image. I use this technique when I have a negative such as the one you describe.
</span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (OleTj @ Apr 2 2003, 09:47 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> N- development, but this tends to compress midtones a bit much for my taste.
Compensating developer - something like Maxim Muir's.
Split developing - with split D23, Ilford FP4+ can hold details over a 16 stop range! </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
There are 2 issues at stake . Local contrast - to keep the door. And general contrast. N- processing will decrease general contrast and may yield a flat print that can be pumped up with a partial selenuim toning and a bleach back of the highlights. I think I might try DiXactol for this one. Even the monobath version controls local contrast very well by tanning the neagative in the highlights and retaining overall contrast elsewhere. PMK tans also - but nothing like the Catechol in DiXactol. I photographed a light bulb and you can read the 50w printing on the glass and see the filament coils perfectly - with no halation - I did it in Medium format in monobath DiXactol. Split D23 is also a winner - I have not used it in a situation like this though. It is sure cheap and easy to make.