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Old 21st November 2020, 08:49 PM
John King John King is offline
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: County Durham
Posts: 2,299
Default Split Grade

To be honest I have tried to write down what I do with split grade and I find it very hard to describe. I do it automatically without thinking and when I do think about it I cannot describe what I do. I am not usually lost for words!

I rarely do split grade anyway except with sky's and clouds. Even then it is more than likely to be burning in local areas.

With areas with fine detail I sometimes make quite complicated paper masks (never card that is too thick). How I draw these before cutting I set the enlarger at the height I want it to be and mark the column. I then drop the column down to a lower height where it is focussed and the sharp projected image is reproduced much smaller onto white paper. A 12x16 print would be reduced to around a 5x7 image before I start drawing.

I then draw quite accurately around the shape I want to burn in or dodge to reduce the exposure then use a craft knife to cut out the shape.

The enlarger head is then raised back to the mark I made and refocussed. The general exposure is assessed and the area which I want to over or under expose is assessed. When I start to make the full size print, the cut out mask is introduced under the enlarger at the same distance from the lens it was when drawing the area to be dodged or burnt. This is very important!

You don't have to be very accurate, that is disguised by moving the mask during the exposure.

I think the most complicated mask I have ever done is of a 5 bar gate with a castle to one side. I had to make 2 or 3 attempts but it was worth it.

Last edited by John King; 21st November 2020 at 08:52 PM.
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Old 21st November 2020, 09:26 PM
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Bob Bob is offline
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: London
Posts: 2,280

When I want a precise(ish) mask I put a box or boxes to make about 6"/150mm high on the baseboard and draw the outline on the back of a discarded test sheet resting on the box without changing the focus or head height. Then to use the mask, I can hold it at (roughly) the same height during exposure.

Not as precise as John's method for very fine detail (which I must try) but generally good enough to make a decent mask for moderately detailed burning/dodging work.
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