Friday, July 01, 2011

Soft contrast light

Hard contrast light
Finished print a combination of a 17.5 time units of soft contrast exposure and 3.4 time units of hard contrast exposure on variable contrast paper.

(Top) Test print done with soft light. Highlighted 17.5 unit exposure.
(Bottom) Test print of hard contrast light exposures done on top of 17.5 unit soft light exposure.  Highlighted 3.4 unit exposure.

After a year of working with the Zone VI enlarger I've settled for now on this printing technique. My first test print will use only the soft contrast (green) light. After making this print I look at the exposures looking for an area where I want the darkest tone to be around Zone V middle gray. I will then expose a second test print using the soft light exposure, in this case 17.5 units and then follow with gradual exposures using the hard (blue) contrast light.  In this case making exposures "over" the 17.5 unit soft exposure with the hard contrast light starting with 2.2 units going to 4.2 units. I want to purposely "under expose" with the soft exposure because when I use the hard contrast (blue) light over the soft contrast exposed paper for the second exposure all the zones will  shift downward.  The Zone V, gray, with the soft contrast light will move to a Zone III or II closer to pure black. The most exposed part of the negative which may represent a reflection of light or light source will hopefully remain at Zone IX, and zones VII & VIII will shift to VI and VII. Multiple contrast papers have layered emulsions of different contrasts that respond to different light wavelengths which can be manipulated by filters, or in this case varied exposure from two different colored bulbs.  This technique of exposing multiple layers of different contrast emulsions rather than just one allows you to tap in to the full potential of multiple contrast paper.  After looking at the second test print I will then choose which combination of the two exposures should produce the best looking print.  In this case I used a 17.5 units of exposure with the soft contrast bulb and 3.4 units of exposure with the hard contrast bulb. 


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