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When printing, is there a way to dodge a dark object spotted with many small light ones ?

For reference, this is what I'm trying to print, but it could also be a sky with many clouds for example.

When I dodge the table in the lower half, I get some shadow details but the writing isn't exposed and when the writing is well exposed the table has very little shadow detail.

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(I didn't see the "darkroom" tag, so original answer was for digital, I've added non-digital to top)

Here I would either:

  • Lower contrast - either a lower contrast grade paper or choose a 1 or half contrast grade lower filter if using multi-contrast paper. That might give you the room you need to get both the dark table and white lettering.

  • Fancy dodging and burning - in my darkroom days I've made a print and then cut out where I wanted to burn (but smaller) and then held the cut-out print a little above another sheet of paper I'm exposing, taking care to avoiding sharp edges.

  • Both of the above - If you are using multi-contrast paper you can hide one area of the print (maybe with cutouts) and expose with one filter and then with a reverse cutout expose the rest of the paper with another filter. Crazy, but I've seen it used creatively (never tried it myself).

  • Negative masking - covered below.

In the digital world one would create a mask to protect part of the image and then use levels or curves on the unprotected part. The nice thing about this is that even with just Photoshop you can go back in later and change the mask or the toning (if you keep things in layers). A possible problem here is the white areas are out of focus, making the mask creation extra tedious.

But if you are using a relatively current version of Photoshop (not sure about the other applications) there is a quick global command you can try -- "Shadows/Highlights..." (in my Photoshop its located in Image->Adjustments). This gives a lot of the effects of masking and toning without the effort of creating a mask. The default values are a little heavy-handed, experiment. There are lots of tutorials on using the command creatively out there.

  • Thanks, but I'm not using Photoshop, notice the darkroom tag :) – user40720 Jun 25 '15 at 12:57
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    @Blackbird57 : but it is the darkroom where the masks originated, Photoshop borrowed the technique. Here is an intro largeformatphotography.info/unsharp – Iliah Borg Jun 25 '15 at 13:14

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