Friday, 6 December 2013

Split grade printing with High contrast negatives.

Very high contrast grade 0
A recently developed set of negatives have shown themselves to be very contrasty even by my standards. During the summer I was on an early morning shoot, when I came across these scenes. They were not the easiest pictures to meter, there was a six stop difference between the light areas and the shadows in some cases. Two things drew me to them: the  way the shadows of the leaves danced on the walls in the gentle breeze and the other was a brief thought that they would be a challenge to split grade print.  

Soft grade 0
It has been suggested that split grade printing works better when the contrast stakes are raised. In these cases they maybe unprintable. The pictures were made using 120 format FP4+ developed in ID11 for 14 mins I know this is longer than what is recommended but I have found I have a tendency to under expose when using medium format cameras.

I used Ilford multigrade developer and RC paper. I tend to use RC papers in the initial stages or until I'm happy that the picture warrants printing on FB paper.

With grade 5 added
I started the grade zero test print for the Gate but it became clear while I was doing the timed segments that I may not need a grade five test because  the contrast was very high even for zero. I chose sixteen seconds for the gate picture to illustrate the degree of contrast this negative has. The window shutter picture also proved to be overly contrasty as well. I was quite happy with the results until I did a second print with the grade five added which now makes the first print look soft. It just goes to show how things change when you start to explore the subject at different settings. None of the prints have been manipulated by dodging or burning in which could class them as the perfect prints?