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Old 4th April 2021, 03:30 PM
beetcleaner beetcleaner is offline
Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 12
Default Split grade printing exposure times

Further to my previous post and the excellent advice given could I ask a quick question on split grade printing?
I've ordered a set of below the lens Ilford Multigrade filters for my Durst M370 Colour enlarger because I'd like to try this technique.
I know I could use the built in filters but for a novice I think a filter kit would be simpler to get started with.
As an example if I do a test strip with a MG 2.5 filter and the best exposure is 6 seconds, then my understanding is I split the exposure for 3 seconds with a MG 00 filter and 3 seconds with a MG 5 filter.
However I notice that if printing with a single MG filter then the exposure time remains the same from MG 00 up to MG 3.5 but then from MG 4 upwards the exposure time is doubled.
Does this also apply to split grade printing? ie in the aforementioned example would I use a MG 00 filter for 3 seconds and a MG 5 filter for 6 seconds?
Is it also the case that to increase detail in the highlights I move up the filters from MG00 to MG 0.5 or MG 1 and to increase detail in the shadows I reduce the exposure time with the MG 5 filter rather than moving down to a MG 4 for example.
Thankyou for any advice
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Old 4th April 2021, 09:11 PM
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GoodOldNorm GoodOldNorm is offline
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You may find this method a good way to start
"Tea is surely the king of all drinks. It helps against the cold, it helps against the heat,against discomfort and sickness, against weariness and weakness". Heinrich Harrer.
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Old 5th April 2021, 07:25 AM
Adrian Adrian is offline
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I use the Ilford filters. With MG papers, as you say the speed of the paper at G4 and G5 is half that for other grades
So for example, if I want G2.5, 6 seconds , I would expose 3 seconds with G0 then 6 seconds with G5. This will give the same tones as a single G2.5 filter for 6 seconds. I always use G5 for the hard exposure, but change exposure time and/or soft exposure grade to fine-tune the contrast.
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Old 5th April 2021, 11:27 AM
tillari tillari is offline
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There are a lot of ways to do split grade printing. The one you described may be a good starting point. I haven't tried yet. I started making a test strip with 00 to find the first white with details, and then another test strip with that time with 00 and several times with 5 to find the shadows with details. But this method was good for some pictures and very time consuming with others to obtaing good results. This weekend I tested using filter 2 to obtain exposourte time, and then a test strip with this time with finter 2 and several times with 5, to obtain de desired blacks. It was easier. With this method, you can vary the filter 2 time to manage middle tones, finter 5 to manage shadows, and you can add filter 00 to manage highlights.
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Old 5th April 2021, 11:52 AM
Terry S Terry S is offline
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Location: Southend on Sea, Essex, England UK
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Originally Posted by beetcleaner View Post
...but for a novice...
Mmmmm, I don't know exactly what you mean by being 'a novice', but unless you are happy with printing straight, with just one filter, with maybe a bit of dodging and burning in, I would avoid getting sidetracked until you are happy doing the just mentioned.

Originally Posted by Adrian View Post
I use the Ilford filters. With MG papers, as you say the speed of the paper at G4 and G5 is half that for other grades...
This used to be the case with MGIV, but with MGV, the spacing is not such an obvious mix.

Originally Posted by tillari View Post
There are a lot of ways to do split grade printing.
Indeed there are! I've many years of printing under my belt and am just about happy with my printing after this length of time.

I (and others) have tried various ways of doing this style of printing, but have never been happy with the results. I therefore stick to one grade printing, but with the occasional burning in of sky areas with a lower filter, which is a very mild part of split grade printing I suppose.

Terry S
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Old 5th April 2021, 12:30 PM
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Bob Bob is offline
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I would agree with Terry re' learning the "standard" way first.

As tillari mentioned, there is more than one way to bake this particular cake and it can depend on the negative how you start - some prints may not have enough important highlights to start with G0/G00, or not enough shadow details to start with G5 so starting with G2.5 might be a better option (although I would not use split-grade at that point).

A more important question is: why are you using split-grade and will it be useful with this particular image/negative? If I do not have important highlights to retain, I usually do not use it and do a test-strip at G2.5 and see what happens to the shadows when I expose for the highlights - then I adjust grade (and inevitably, exposure) accordingly - but that is just my way of doing things - others will do differently! I might then burn in highlights with G0 and shadows with G5 later. Others prefer to start with the G5 exposure and will evaluate the shadows first.
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Old 5th April 2021, 01:29 PM
Mike O'Pray Mike O'Pray is offline
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From the Ilford video by the Ilford Master Printer, Darkroom Dave, it would appear that he does ignore the G5 filter factor and simply uses the 6 secs from his test strip at G2.5 split as 3 secs and 3 secs for G0 and G5

So I assume that he has found a simple formula which effectively only requires the G0 and G5 to be split equally. Easy to do and easy to remember

OK he does modify the print from this by using G1 instead of G0 and increasing the G5 by 1sec but essentially the core formula would appear to be a an equal split, ignoring the 2x factor for G5

I'll give this way a go and see what I get

It would certainly appear to simplify the Les McLean method

It is literally splitting everything in half, using G2.5( a halfway grade) then splitting the best time for that in half at the two extremes

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Old 5th April 2021, 02:04 PM
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billcowan billcowan is offline
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This must vary according to the make of enlarger. One enlarger of mine is for sure, a 3 to one split with a very potent #5 and a weaker #0. (The enlarger only works as a split filter type). I used a Stouffer negative to match the colour head to Ilford filters and found equal times for both colours was a 3.5 filter.

Grade Blue Green Stouffer steps (21)

5 100% 0% 5.5 steps
4.5 80% 0%

4 76% 4% 6 steps

3.5 52% 48%

3 43% 57% 8 steps

2.5 35% 65%

2 28% 72% 9 steps

1.5 22% 78%

1 18% 82% 10 steps

0.5 12% 88%

0 8% 2% 11.5 steps

00.5 3% 97%

00 0% 100% 13.5 steps

Last edited by billcowan; 5th April 2021 at 02:15 PM. Reason: I tried to make the format look better but alas
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Old 5th April 2021, 02:43 PM
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skellum skellum is offline
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beetcleaner- if you really are new to darkroom printing please forget split-grade for now.
It is actually perfectly possible to make beautiful prints on graded paper, with virtually no contrast control, never mind 'needing' spilt-grade.
Multigrade paper used as a single grade at a time increases your flexibility hugely. Going to split grade, and routinely doing 1/2 printing time at grade 0 and 1/2 the time at G5 is effectively the same as using a single grade.
Split grade really comes into its own when you begin to dodge and burn different areas of the print at different grades. That usually means you've come up against a difficult negative which needs a bit of work to make the best of.
Once you are experienced enough in grade selection it opens new possibilities, but your aim should initially be to make negatives which print well on a middling grade (like 2 or 2 1/2) without needing heavy manipulation.

Good luck.
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Old 5th April 2021, 04:07 PM
MikeHeller MikeHeller is offline
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I would fully support what skellum says.

I have been printing for over 50 years and with multigrade since shortly after they appeared on the market. I have tried split grade printing using grade O and 5 filters. I have found it more hassle than it was worth except for the very occasional negative and even then questionable.

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