Analog Photography: Split grade printing in the darkroom | Jahan Saber | Skillshare

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Analog Photography: Split grade printing in the darkroom

teacher avatar Jahan Saber

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Introduction to split grade printing


    • 2.

      Multigrade filters


    • 3.

      Test print without filters


    • 4.

      Low contrast filter


    • 5.

      High contrast filter


    • 6.

      Split grade printing


    • 7.

      Final advice


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About This Class

In this class you're going to learn all about the advanced techniques of working in the darkroom: split grade printing. Taking this class requires you to have you a basic understanding of basic black and white darkroom printing. If you aren't up to date with that, feel free to look at my previous videos where I can guide you through those steps. 

This will only work with darkroom papers that have a variable contrast, like Ilford Multigrade Papers. 

(Split grade filters = contrast filters = multigrade filters. These are all the same thing)

find me on Instagram if you need any help: @doyoudevelop

Meet Your Teacher

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Jahan Saber


Jahan Saber is a photographer and artist born (1990) and based in Vienna, Austria. He is the founder of "DEVELOP" - a brand that focuses on raising awareness for the analogue process in photography and beyond. Coming from a commercial background in the photo industry he sought out to seek out a means of decelerating the over-saturation and over production of photographic media. Shooting and printing exclusively with the analogue process enables him to further his artistic approach into creating a more honest and connected portrayal of his surroundings.

Jahan has travelled across Europe throughout the past 4 years discovering his style and approach to analogue photography. Throughout his journeys he self published various photo-zines and small book projects.

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Level: Intermediate

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1. Introduction to split grade printing: hello and welcome in today's class, I'm going to be talking about split gray printing in the dark room. Now spread. Great printing can be extremely, extremely advantageous. If you have difficult prints that you want to print, especially if they have a lot of shadows or highlights on, you really want to retain as much detail as possible in the print. It's also an effective tool that you can use instead of dodging and burning. Or you can combine the two of course on. Then you can get the maximum benefits. So in this class I'm gonna be giving you step by step tutorial of all the things that you need, all the things that you're gonna have to do in order to get a great split. Great print. Andi. Yeah, I hope you enjoy 2. Multigrade filters: Okay, So, obviously what you'll need for split Great printing is a set of multi grade filters. Now my and larger actually has thes built into the enlarger, so I don't have to take anything. I don't have to use physical filters that I'm inserting either underneath the lens or underneath the lamp. And that makes working with filters actually quite easy. Andi. Yes. So Ilford makes a really good set of those. I would recommend getting those. Andi. This is what that would look like. Obviously working in the darkness. The lowest grade filter zero has a very yellowish tone to it. And then, as we go up, the filter range to the most highest contrast, which is five. We have very like purplish pinkish tone. Yeah, so that's what that would look like. And that's essentially what you'll need for working with multi grade filters. 3. Test print without filters: Once we get into the dark room, the first thing that most of us will start doing is just basic test strip. So this is a test trip that I made without any filters. So this is just to second increments. Andi, Once I start analyzing this and figuring out what kind of time I want to print with the things that I look for essentially are always like what kind of shadow detail I'm looking for. What kind of highlight detail on what I kind of want my print to look like? Overall. So these were two second increments, and around 246 would say eight seconds would seem like the print that most of us would go for 10 seconds. We have already very, very little detail in the ground right here in the grass. Andi, that's really something that you want to avoid unless obviously, from a very subjective point of view, that's exactly what you're going for. But as we increase the time here, we get a very, very little to no detail. Well, different story for the sky. Now Sky here has a lot more punch in as we as we proceed and we go way, Increase the exposure time. And so traditionally, what you do is you just dodge and burn, and that makes things very simple. If if you have on image, that is kind of split in, like, very linear way like this and you wouldn't really have to do a lot of work. So, you know, you just come in like, block off the ground, and then the light would shine onto the sky for longer, and you kind of burn in the sky. That's all you have to do. And that's quite simple. But sometimes we need we need expect grade printing because we want to retain shadow detail in the best possible way on. That works very well with spread great printing. So the first thing that I'm gonna show you right now is just what the basic print would look like. So that's just eight seconds right here. Yeah. So this is the a second exposure, and as you can see, the skies all right, the grounds kind of dark. I mean, unless that's exactly what you're going for. But I know that there's some shadow detail in here that's just kind of going missing on same thing goes for around here. I mean, maybe that's also the lens that's slightly been getting bit of detail. Sky that seems kind of right. We could get starker. And in general, the horizon looks like it could need just may be a bit more detail around here. So what's the first thing that we're gonna do? The first thing that we do, just like with our normal prints, where we don't use any filters, we're going to start with a filter. So the easiest thing on the best thing that you can do is just start with the base filter, which is filters air. 4. Low contrast filter: So this is what that would look like. Now, I know this can look a bit different right here on the filming, but it's actually very, very low contrast. And I think if all holds up the eight seconds, then you'll see that there is significant difference between just eight seconds found no filter. It'll on then filter zero to second increments for the tests. Now the interesting thing is that the first thing that you notice is even on the highest time that I used right here. We still have detail, even though this is very money and not very attractive, and there's no sort of great tonal range through this we still have detail on. We can still identify everything in the image. Now, if we look at the highlights, obviously this is blown out on this is too bright and we can really work with us. But if we work our way somewhere in the middle right here, so I'd say around 12 14 seconds way actually have satisfactory detail everywhere. Now the promise. Obviously, there is just way too little contrast in here. Now what you do with spit right printing is that you don't actually prints just a low filter. You combine a low contrast filter with a high contrast filter. And that's kind of how you get, like, the image that you're working for now is the There is no perfect prediction of what combination of time you can use. So you can't say straight from start Oh, it's gonna be 10 seconds. Filter 10 at Sorry. 10 seconds. Filter zero and then, like four seconds filter for five or three or whatever, you're gonna have to work your way towards that. So the first thing that I usually do is I kind of find, like a base filter that I want to work with. So in this case, I did filter zero for two seconds. But then you can also start with the higher filter. You don't always have to start with the lowest filter you could do like filter number one, for example. So this is number one. There's so lightly ever so slightly more contrast in here on, and this will be probably very hard to tell on the recording, But definitely this is something you should always, you know, try for yourself. So anyway, this is filter one again to second increments and we get a satisfactory detail everywhere, even on the highest exposures. Now this is very low contrast. So the next thing that I'm going to show you is what very high contrast test strip looks. 5. High contrast filter: so right here. What we have is filter five on and these air again to second exposures on and then we can kind of see quite the opposite off. What would have happened with the low contrast filter. So if I give you a direct comparison again, this is filter 02 seconds. And then what we have here is filter funds two seconds. So as we observe, there seems to be a lot more kind of great and structure that's visible in the sky. Shadow details here are completely gone. Eso there is just this is basically nearly 100 100% pure black, even around here in the sky. It takes a lot of time to get any sort of detail in the sky around here ground this carnival ride. I guess maybe around 78 seconds, it would be satisfactory. But there is absolutely no for details of the sky, and we want to avoid that obviously at all costs. Unless once again, that is exactly what you want to. So what's interesting, though, is as we go down and this is a filter for dinner eso there is a bit less contrast. It's not as punchy as Filter five and again to second XP increments on. We can see that there is already a lot more detail in eight seconds than it was on the filter five. So maybe filter for is a better filter to work with. And so aspirin, as we're doing these test strips, were kind of like gathering information on experience and thinking about what what kind of combination would would suit our best. 6. Split grade printing: So the first thing that happens is we start working our way together and we start looking at filter zero filter four, for example, which was for me. There were two filters that kind of work together nicely on. So I combined the two. Now the times that I chose here, 10 seconds and four seconds are based on the forces before seconds that I got around here, which which gave me just a bit of punch. Just a bit of detail. Nothing really happened in the sky. But keep in mind that these times will, like, add on each other. So if I look at filter zero now on, then I have my two second exposures. What I did is I did filter to and I did 10 seconds. So I got something like this. And then I added around another two seconds of the high contrast. So this was the result of that. Now, obviously, this could still be someone's. I know high in contrast, enough, Andi, It could still be too flat, but from just like a technical point of view, we have very satisfactory detail across the print. Now we can identify everything we don't have any blown out highlights and shadows, so this could be a good starting point. Now, obviously, for me personally, this print is just a bit too low contrast, and I want something more now. What I could do is I could increase the contrast by using a higher filters, so I'm using Filter number five now the same time again. 10 seconds was filter zero on the five second of four seconds for Filter five. Now there's a bit more contrast around here, this bit more contrast in the grass and all the leaves around here. But it's still not as much as I want to. Now I can give you an example of the opposite. So instead of using a longer time with a low contrast filter, I'm using a longer time with high contrast. So I'm doing 10 seconds of Filter five and only four seconds of filter zero. So what do we have here? What? We have a lot of crazy contrast around here. There's not enough detail around the sky here, so this is essentially very, very white around here. There's not as much detail sky. I really want to achieve so in, in my opinion, the best thing that you can do is combining all the tools that you have at hand. So the way I like to work is I don't only use contrast filters. I use the split grading contrast, voters. And what I do is I include dodging and burning. So right here, What we have is the final image of how I would work with in when really working with us, really wanting to produce an image that is satisfactory to my eye on this is a combination . So what I did right here is I did eight seconds off filter five, which gave me kind of this very strong, punchy look. And then I did four seconds of filter zero just enoughto have based contrast and have satisfactory detail in the sky around here and around the village in the background. And then what I did to really make sure all of this detail would come out, I would actually I did another eight seconds of burning in of the sky. So what I did is I just had the filter zero, and I just burns in the sky using filter zero. And this is effective because what we can see now is obviously we have a substantial amount of gray, and we don't actually have. So the sky's greats not actually white. And this is something that we have an issue with. For example, in using the high contrast filter for too long is that all of this here was just a bit too Bryant a bit too once, and we if we compare it directly to this one, we have a lot more gray, and that kind of gives us more of an edge to the overall look of the image and what it should look like. 7. Final advice: So this was speak great printing on. And if you have any more questions, please feel free to just write me on my instagram. I'm usually available there, and I'll answer most of the questions that you have. The final advice that I still want to give you, which is really important, is Don't be afraid to go out and try this yourself. It's a bit more, it seems a bit more complicated than it actually is. There is nothing really that you could do wrong. Like I said, there's always like a technical, correct way of seeing an image. So, you know, maybe having perfect shadow detail everywhere is like a correct way. But at the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is Thean image that you have in your head and translating and transforming that onto the paper and kind of producing the vision that you have. And that's the only thing that matters. So, you know, if you have a print that's like super contrast C, and there's hardly any highlight detail and that's exactly what you want it, then you know that's great, that you should just do it that way now three. Only thing that is really important is when you're doing all of this. Make sure you keep notes because, like you could see with my prince, there is a lot of different test strips on. There's a lot of times involved on you, really just want to kind of keep like notes of what you're doing. Because once the prince of Dried and you're kind of like analyzing, are you thinking about what times work best, where you want to repeat the process. It is really, really important to have notes on this, so it will make your future printing a lot easier. And, you know, you pick up a few details here and there, and then you learn for some specific images, you might look at them and, you know, like straight from the start, like Oh, yeah, Okay, so this is like, for sure I have to do base contrast filter number one for like, 10 seconds because you've done it in similar images and so on so forth. So, yeah, I really hope you enjoyed the video on the class, Andi. Like I said, if you have any more questions, just feel free to reach out to me on Instagram on. I'll be there toe answer any other questions? Take care