[alt-photo] Re: Multi-Neg Printing Methods

Tomas Sobota tom at sobota.net
Sat Oct 29 15:14:19 GMT 2011

Hi Francesco

Nice to meet you here. If you remember, we had some interchange about
that Cuban street photographer on your website, some months ago.

I was about to answer some of your questions when I read the post
pointed to by Denny, with which I mostly agree, so it saved me a lot
of writing :-)

In short: with a fully digital workflow you probably don't need
several negatives. You can apply a HDR processing to your original
image to maximize the range of information, and then you adjust your
negative to your process using one of the well-known techniques, such
as Burkholder, Mark Nelson's PDN, QTR and so on. One exposure under
this negative should be enough, but if you want extra contrast you can
always recoat and expose again under the same neg.

I'm naturally speaking of monochrome work. With color you will usually
need separation negs for three or four color work, but that is another
history and not every process can be used for color work. Pt/Pd
certainly not.

Also, as a special case, gum dichromate will usually require two or
more coats/exposures to get a reasonable color density, even in
monochrome. But then the usual procedure is to use the same negative.
Varying pigment density, time of exposure and dichromate concentration
you can control in which zones the pigment will be deposited.

About your worry on overprinting. Well, at least with gum, the coats
are transparent to a certain degree, which varies with coat strength
and the pigment used. So, a new coat never covers fully all of the
previous ones. That is actually the reason why you can get an ample
range of colours using only the three substractive primaries.

The same would happen with the mixed processes: gum on cyanotype and
so on. Some degree of transparency is required in the uppermost coats.


On 10/29/11, Denny <dspector at charter.net> wrote:
> Francesco,
> You might find this useful, or at least interesting:
> http://www.dpug.org/forums/f8/learning-master-platinum-printer-irving-penn-2
> 047/
> Denny
> -----Original Message-----
> From: alt-photo-process-list-bounces at lists.altphotolist.org
> [mailto:alt-photo-process-list-bounces at lists.altphotolist.org] On Behalf Of
> Francesco Fragomeni
> Sent: Friday, October 28, 2011 9:14 PM
> To: The alternative photographic processes mailing list
> Subject: [alt-photo] Multi-Neg Printing Methods
> Hi all,
> I'm doing a bit more research into multiple negative printing. I've been
> printing from multiple negatives for a long time using a technique that just
> kind of developed on its own for me after doing lots of research and
> emulating techniques that I knew would bring some element that I was after
> to my work. I'm trying to expand upon this and I'm hoping that some of you
> might be able to offer some insight as you have in the past.
> I've been looking quite intently into some of the techniques used by Irving
> Penn and recently its been recommended that I look into the printing of
> Salto in Belgium. The key element that I'm interest in is the use of
> multiple negatives for printing highlight, mid-tones, and shadows. Penn made
> multiple negatives in the darkroom and printed them in register and was able
> to achieve his unbelievable platinum prints (he took some of his techniques
> to the grave with him as well). I have not had the opportunity to see any of
> Salto's prints in person but according to some mutual friends he scans an
> original negative and uses an imagesetter to produce 5 negatives for
> printing highlight, mids, and shadows. From what I've been told, his
> platinum prints are wonderful. My issue is that I haven't yet been able to
> wrap my head around how this type of printing actually takes place. I've
> used registration printing in my work for some time but I haven't done much
> with printing multiple negs in order to print in highlight, midtones, and
> shadows separate from one another. Im hoping that someone can offer insight
> into the process. How are the negatives actually printed together in these
> cases? Logically, one is printed and then replaced by the next in register
> which is replaced by the next in register and so on. My question then
> becomes, how is exposure determined for each negative? I'm having a hard
> time understanding how the multiple printings will work without overprinting
> what was produced by the previous negative printing. If someone could shed
> some light on this I would really appreciate it. I feel like there is
> something very simple that I'm overlooking which will bring it all into
> view.
> Thank you in advance!
> -Francesco
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