Advanced Technique & Process 2B: Magenta & Yellow (Split grade) printing (Medium Format negs)

26th February 2015

Equipment used

Dark room enlarger with
50mm lens &
Medium format neg carrier
ILFORD multi-grade fibre based film paper
Dark room enlarging easel (RR beard)

(See folder for all notes made throughout darkroom sessions)

The aim of this session was to print in the darkroom, using the Magenta/Yellow printing techniques, to gain control of the whole tonal range of the black and white print.

Firstly, I started off by turning both the yellow & cyan dials to 0. I turned the magenta up to 170 then exposed 5 sec increments on the timer onto the paper. Printing with just magenta gave the image ultimate contrast which I really liked. However the white looked a bit blown out so I then turned the magenta and cyan down to 0, and the yellow up to 170. This gave a low contrast, grey image. Combining the 2 would create the look needed. So I tried various times for each – first exposing the magenta and then the yellow on top. Doing 2 separate exposures was a little tricky and on my prints you can see a bit of movement has occured because it was difficult keeping everything in the same place, in the dark, when doing 2 exposures of the same photo on 1 piece of paper.

In the end I found that the best settings for my medium format negs were exposing the magenta for 4 seconds at f5.6 and then 3 seconds of yellow at f8.

I really enjoyed this session and learnt a lot. I learnt how I have the power of controlling the tones in my darkroom prints and even 1 second difference in exposure is a big alteration, so it was important to work in a trial and error fashion, keep on trying and estimating, and at the same time learning about the light and colour and how they work together and what aesthetic this creates.

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