Open Photography Forums  
HOME FORUMS NEWS FAQ SEARCH

Go Back   Open Photography Forums > Photography Discussions > Film, Platinum, Polaroid & other Analog media

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old June 24th, 2011, 05:13 PM
Nick Masson Nick Masson is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Posts: 74
Default Question concerning contact sheets

Hey all,
I've recently decided to go back to shooting B&W film, and i've been brushing up on technique and theory since it has been so long since i've been in the darkroom etc... I was wondering if anybody could answer a question for me regarding contact sheets:
If a contact sheet is made on standard multi-grade paper, will the densities in the print be close enough to those in the negative that you can critically assess the quality of your negatives?

I've always used a contact print just to take a 'look' at the negatives. I know the best way to judge the quality of a negative (detail separation etc...) is to look at the negative itself, but I have a hard time inverting a negative in my head, and don't really feel inclined to practice to the point where i'm proficient. I would love to be able to just make a contact print of my negatives, and know that the silver emulsion densities in the print are very similar to those of the negative (or, I guess more precisely, the exact opposite); so that I can use a loupe to assess the quality of negatives (eg. compare negatives when bracketing etc...).

Thanks!
-NICK
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old June 24th, 2011, 08:14 PM
Maris Rusis Maris Rusis is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Noosa, Queensland, Australia.
Posts: 382
Default

The way to make a contact positive on multigrade gelatin-silver paper that tells you the truth about your negatives is to make a proper proof.

The way negative transmission densities translate into positive reflection densities can be entirely discretionary but there is fixed point of reference: the edge of the film (or the space between frames) that got no exposure at all. This clear part of the negative must correspond to black in the positive.

A proper proof results when the contact exposure is the minimum to just make the film edge come out maximum black. I use grade 2 on multigrade papers for doing proper proofs. This is a middling contrast grade that serves to identify if your negatives are non-normal.

A proper proof shows the following:

If the positives are too dark or lacking shadow detail the film has been underexposed.

If the positives are too light or have burned out highlights the film has been overexposed.

If the positives lack contrast the film has been underdeveloped.

If the positives are too contrasty the film has been overdeveloped.

If the positives look good you've got the first step in making a fine photograph.

There are combinations involving multiple sins (underexposure and overdevelopment, for example) that a proper proof will alert you to if you read it right. Take notes, compare what you got, how you metered, what you shot, and how you processed. Change one variable at a time, keep experimenting until all your contact sheets look beautiful. Persistence and discipline make the learning curve to good negatives rather short.
__________________
"Photography or the application of the chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation...". Photography, the word, coined and first uttered by Sir John Herschel at the Royal Society, Somerset House, London; 14 March, 1839.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old June 24th, 2011, 09:43 PM
Nick Masson Nick Masson is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Posts: 74
Default

Hi Maris,
Great, thank you for the reply. I was trying to figure out if a contact sheet, or proof sheet, would be sufficient to determine whether I wanted to print a negative or not (i.e. assess it's quality), and it seems from what you are saying that if I make the proof sheet correctly then it will be a fairly accurate rendition of the negative's densities and values.

So when you make a proof sheet do you use test strips to find the exact exposure necessary to render to inter-frame negative material a pure black? I used to just use a set f-stop and time on the enlarger, but it seems that to make it precise (from enlarger to enlarger etc...), you would have to do test strips...

Anyway, thanks for the info!

-NICK
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old June 25th, 2011, 02:11 AM
Sandrine Bascouert Sandrine Bascouert is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Brighton (UK)
Posts: 991
Default

Hi, I don't if that helps but when I used to work in the darkroom, one of my first task was to cut the 18*24 (cm) paper that I used to print the contacts with in 8 equal sheets. After I made my contact sheet, I used to print all readable (not only good or in focus) images and print them well without masking, it gave me an rough idea, because I've never been able to read the lack of grey transitions in a contact sheet (too sharp, too contrasty etc...). I also used to note the number of the film and the number of the image on the back with a pencil. This was my start to think about cropping, masking etc....


PS: Now i'm thinking that If I had the idea at the time to glue them in 2 or more 18*24 sheets of paper, It would have given me giant contact sheets to work with...stupid me! :)
__________________
Sandrine: the genuine "5th wheel of the wagon". Second to none! Established 1970.
website
C&C always welcome!
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old June 25th, 2011, 12:23 PM
Nick Masson Nick Masson is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Posts: 74
Default

Cool, sounds like a good process. I think i'll probably try something similar, and find my ideal workflow given time and money restraints...
Thanks!
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old June 25th, 2011, 05:36 PM
Maris Rusis Maris Rusis is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Noosa, Queensland, Australia.
Posts: 382
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Masson View Post
Hi Maris,
So when you make a proof sheet do you use test strips to find the exact exposure necessary to render to inter-frame negative material a pure black? I used to just use a set f-stop and time on the enlarger, but it seems that to make it precise (from enlarger to enlarger etc...), you would have to do test strips...

Anyway, thanks for the info!

-NICK
The first proper proof I did needed test strips to catch the first appearance of Dmax.

After that I marked the enlarger (used as a convenient, controllable light source) with a sticker showing lamp-house height, lens aperture, and exposure time. This "calibrated"enlarger delivers proper proof exposures unless I change the brand of photographic paper, change the film to one with a different film base+fog density, or change the paper developer. Then it's back to test-strips again.
__________________
"Photography or the application of the chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation...". Photography, the word, coined and first uttered by Sir John Herschel at the Royal Society, Somerset House, London; 14 March, 1839.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are Off
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
LF: Contact Printing! Dawid Loubser Medium Format & Large Format Cameras 9 September 15th, 2011 08:02 AM
The "How Did You Do That?" Question Benjamin Kanarek Layback Cafe 7 September 4th, 2009 10:31 AM
Azo Replacement Paper: LODIMA FINE ART™ avaialble for purchase now! Asher Kelman Breaking News 0 April 8th, 2009 12:47 PM
bifocal contact lenses? ron_hiner Gear Support: Bags/ Cases/ Tripods/Transport or anything else needed for a shoot! 16 January 13th, 2007 10:27 AM


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 02:01 PM.


Posting images or text grants license to OPF, yet © of such remain with its creator. Still, all assembled discussion © 2006-2017 Asher Kelman (all rights reserved) Posts with new theme or unusual image might be moved/copied to a new thread!