Printing Thin Negatives

Ian-Barber

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Does this seem like a feasible approach when printing thin negatives.

Expose for the high values and then add some G5 to put the blacks back in
 

Ian Grant

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Thin negatives can rarely be printed very successfully. You can expose for the highlights but with a thin negative the Gd5 exposure will add to the highlights as well.

I printed for members of one family for well over 40 years, but with your scenario I could just a passable print but no more.

Ian
 

David M

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There's always intensification as a last resort. It is a one-way street and can increase graininess, but if all else fails...
I wonder if a negative unsharp mask would help, but I don't really know, as I've never tried it.
It might be easier to rescue it digitally, but that's another question.
 

Ian Grant

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Intensification only works well on underdeveloped negatives, it can't add shadow detail where there's under exposure. It reallyn is a last resort.

Ian
 

Alan Clark

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Does this seem like a feasible approach when printing thin negatives.

Expose for the high values and then add some G5 to put the blacks back in
Ian, this is another of your "how long is a piece of string?" questions. The answer to it depends on how thin the negative is and what is its density range. If its density range just matches that required by a grade 5 filter to give a tonal range of tones from full black to paper white, then you will get a perfectly reasonable straight print from a grade 5 filter. And such a negative will look thin.

Alan
 

David M

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Last resort, certainly.
Ian didn't say if his neg was underexposed or underdeveloped. I assumed we were looking for a lifeboat.
For underexposure there's either a radical aesthetic re-think or the traditional WPB, unless the content is very important.
Scanning can rescue almost invisible detail, if there's anything there at all, but either Ian or Ian will know more about that.
 

Ian-Barber

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This is the negative in question.

It was taken with a J & B Ensign Box Camera and developed in XTOL Replenished for 9 minutes at 20°C
I would think that the negative is under exposed rather than underdeveloped.

The printing issues I am faced with is the sky. It's very mid-tone in the negative and because of the tree line, dodging during the initial exposure is difficult. I can get nice tones in the building but then the sky goes to dark


IMG_0228.JPG
 

Ian Grant

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Probably a touch under exposed looking at the grass in the foreground.

One problem with Box cameras is they were designed to use films like Verichrome (and later Verichrome Pan), Ilford Selochrome, an similar thick emulsion films with a much wider latitude than today's modern thin emulsion films. They lack the control for adjusting exposure accurately.

Ian
 

David M

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So this is an aesthetic question, not a technical one? You didn't mention the sky.
From the screen image, there seems to be shadow detail everywhere. Not thin at all. It does look as if a reasonable print could be made at a single grade, as Alan suggests.
A slightly more intricate burning scheme might help with the sky. As a guess, print for everything except the building, using the "right" single grade of filter (which you determine by test-strips) and then burn the building and perhaps the trees with a higher-grade filter, not necessarily a No.5. Burning is the same as dodging everything else. It's easier to burn convex shapes than to dodge around them.
How important is all that grass? How dark is too dark?
Otherwise, this is an example of what Kodak called "subject failure". A better solution might be to return when the sky is more co-operative. We don't know what colour the sky was, but a filter might have helped.
In the good old days, they would have used a very soft pencil, smudged onto the back of the neg, but they were giants in those days.
 

David M

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Hmmm...
I've dragged the image onto the desktop and done a quick inversion in Elements.
If the sky is lightened, you will lose the nice edge of the pediment and the backlit leaves at the top of the trees will be less distinct. The clouds will be less defined, too. Straight print at grade 3 or 3.5 perhaps?
 

Ian Grant

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I'd agree overall but the grass is a bit thin at the bottom which is why Think a touch under-exposed, also there appears to eb quite a high base fog for Tmax100 in Xtol.

Ian
 

David M

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Well, yes. There's that curious shadow in the margin, top right.
I suspect that the grass is there because the camera was held level to avoid keystoning. I'd be inclined to crop. Not our decision to make, of course.
I can't see how changing either exposure or development would affect the relative placement of the sky. It seems to be hovering at Z5-ish (on my screen) so although it may move up or down the scale, it would preserve its relative position. I quite like its current tonality, anyway.
 
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