In the first episode of case studies we dealt with highlight contrast. Now in this episode we want to go grainy. We will see how grain evolves from highlights into shadow and also what it does to fine detail.
On the left you can see the image that is used in this episode, an ensemble of trees. You may want to play through this with your own image, but if you want to use the same image, here you go: Click!
We start again with all the processing parameters reset and applied the coloring setting from last time. In addition to that we set a frame of 10%. To make this a bit easier, here is the starter preset, download it (Click!), import it and apply it. Done.
Now first of all let’s see how the image looks like with the default settings. I let you do this development on your own and do not show it here. As you can see the shadows which are already deep in the original image block up quite heavy in the lith. So since we want to stay at a development time of around 100 let us increase dilution to 25. And – the mid-tones appear a bit lousy – we also want to increase mid-tone contrast and set midtone gradient to 1.5. In the very highlights we are a bit on the light side. To fix that we increase exposure to 1 and highlight contrast to 1.5. Below you can see the result of this development.
Here are two crops from above image, one to show the grain transition in the highlights and one to show the grain effect where there is fine detail.
As you can see there is already some nice grain showing up.
The first crop shows how the grain evolves from creamy highlights into grainier shadows. But that is what we have already seen in the last episode.
The second crop shows how the fine detail looks like. You will have to click on either of the small images to view them in full size. As you can see, the fine detail is preserved very well, given that there already is some grain involved from our starting point.
Now as said, this is an episode about grain or to be more specific, about how to get more grain using plain DigitalLith parameters (there will be a later episode on adding more grain using streaking modules).
Let us see what happens if we increase the grain value to 0.2. We have to keep in mind that a higher grain value leads to faster development. We address this in the same way we did in the beginning, to keep the development time at 100 we simply increase the dilution. Let us set it to a value of 35 and develop the image which should give you something like the image below.
Now even in this small view of the image you can see that there is more grain. But increasing the grain also added some overall contrast. We are going to work a bit agains this in our next try where we increase the grain value again. This time we set it to 0.3. To tame the contrast we go to a value of 2 for the exposure and to keep the development time where it is we set the dilution to an intuitive value of 47. What you get might look like the image below.
You see how the grain has increased again. This time I should show some crops again where we see the evolving grain and also – I was about to write what happens in the details, but I should write what happens to the details.
The first crop shows, that the grain is already quite pronounced and also the highlights show a smidge of grain. The second crop shows that a higher grain value reduces or better destroys fine detail. I for myself, when doing lith prints in the darkroom was never after preserving fine details. But you should keep that in mind when playing around with the grain parameter.
Now to come to an end with a first playing around with grain, let us look at another parameter that influences grain, the grain gradient. There will be an extra episode on that one coming soon. But let’s have a peek.
With the grain gradient we can influence how grain evolves from highlights to shadows. A higher value holds back the grain in the highlights but then let it evolve faster towards the shadows. A value lower than 1 will let the grain show-up earlier. Here we go for a grain gradient of 3. But we increase the grain value to 0.5 to have some strong shadow grain. We will loose a bit highlight density and for that increase highlight contrast from the 1.5 we have right now to 2 and set exposure to one so that we not block the brightest highlights. Here is what we get.
That is it for today. Have fun playing around with grain. In the next episode we are going to see how to smoothen the grain and what bromide and sulfite parameters do to the build-up of grain.