Digital Lith Tutorials – Parameters revisited

This is the last episode of the Digital Lith tutorial series. To finish the series we are going to have another look at the development parameters. We have not had a close look on all of them yet.

First let’s have a look at two parameters which let you better control the end-result. As Digital Lith is a kind of exponential process it can happen that the changes at the very end of the process are too big. For that reason you can define a development step from which on the development runs with a higher dilution. As long as the dilution time is 0 we do not use it. This might also a good way to have more control if you want to stop development using the snatch button. You can play around with it a bit. No need for examples here.

Then there is the bromide increase and also the dilution increase. With the dilution increase you specify the percentage the dilution increases for each iteration. This is a bit similar to the dilution time/factor, except that it is a going through the whole process and this is also giving you more control over the result in the last few iterations.

More interesting is the bromide increase parameter which specifies the percentage of bromide change for each iteration. You can set it to a positive number which means the bromide increases and grain gets coarser towards the end or you can set it to a negative number which means bromide decreases and grain gets smoother towards the end of the process.

Here are two examples of it and I processed them to a lower resolution so that the effect shows clearer. Here is how you can do the same yourself. Reset the development parameters, apply our coloring preset and for each of the following examples set the development time to 70 and the grain to 0.3. Then select the scale image from image adjustments and set it to 1500. And now run developments with the following parameters:

example 1 2 3 4
bromide increase 0 3 -3 0
dilution 50 35 30 25
sulfite 8 8 1 1
bromide 1 1 1 1

You see and already know, playing around with sulfite and bromide changes the development time. We wanted to keep the development time the same so I adjusted the dilution instead.

What we do is to show a first example with high sulfite which will smooth out the grain. Then there is the one which starts with sulfite/bromide ration 8/1 and will end up with 1/1 (remember bromide and sulfite define a ratio which means 1/1 is the same as 8/8). The next one starts with 1/1 and will end up with 8/1. And the last example shows the effect of starting with 1/1 and staying there.

Next let us visit the midtone gradient parameter. This can control midtone contrast – and therefore also influences highlight and shadow contrast. A higher value leads to increased midtone contrast and a lower value to flatter midtones. Who is curious, you also can use negative numbers.

Here is an example. As before reset the parameters and apply the coloring preset from before. Set the development time to 85, we will keep it there, but normally you would want to adjust it a bit.

The first image is with midtone contrast set to 0.25, the second is at 1, the third is at 1.5 and – out of curiosity – the fourth one has it set to -0.5. Here we go:

And now the very last topic of this episode. It is a parameter that I use a lot: The grain gradient. The grain gradient lets you control when grain builds up. That means you can keep the highlights relatively grain free but then let it show up more prominent in the shadows. A value greater than 1 will make the highlights smoother and the shadow grain increase. A value greater than 0 but lower than 1 will make the grain appear earlier in the process. One thing that you may want to do when using this is to increase the grain to a high level and work with a high dilution too. But let us see an example of the grain gradient parameter in action – together with a few other parameters. I have attached the zip containing the preset for this development at the bottom of the page.

Here you can see the smooth highlights and the grain appearing from some tonal value on. With the flat coloring you can have the grain being responsible for the tonal separation.

And this image is also the last one in this episode and in the whole Digital Lith tutorial series. I hope you had fun and that all this is helpful in understanding Digital Lith and all its possibilities. There shall be another series coming dealing with all the available streaking modules. But this is going to take some time. In the meantime: Have fun with Digital Lith.