Do I understand VC printing right?


Between darkrooms
Mar 20, 2005
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Living in Snapshot reality.
As I understand it, the filters affect the shadows. So, you start with a #2 filter (normal contrast) and expose to get a print with good highlights... then using the same exposure and development (so the highlights stay the same), you adjust the filter to get the shadow density you want.

Is that right?
Not really, no.
Filters for VC paper affect the contrast - that is, the range of greys that you can get (as well as the black and white).
A 2 filter is 'normal' as in theory the tonal range that you get matches the tonal range of a 'normal' neg (7 stops lighting range). This means that white on the original prints as white, black as black, and all the greys in between.
If you use 'softer' filters (1, 0, 00) you reduce the contrast (you put more greys in if you like). Printing a normal neg with a 00 filter you would have great difficulty getting black and white. It would be either white and grey or grey and black.
You use soft filters for contrasty negs to try and put some tonal range back in.
'Harder' filters (3, 4, 5) increase the contrast (take some of the greys out). Printing a normal neg you would get a a compressed tonal range - black and white with few (or no) greys.
You tend to use them for flat negs to try and give them some punch.
Shadow density/highlight detail is only affected insofar as the tonal range is compressed/expanded.
Exposure for each filter tends to be different so you should do a test strip if you change filtration.

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