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Controlling local density using a torch

Controlling local density using a torch - Increase your darkroom skills with this great technique from Peter Bargh - using a torch to control tonal density.

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Category : Darkroom Printing
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Words & Pictures by Peter Bargh

The black & white photograph on the right can be improved when being enlarged by using dodge & burn techniques. I will darken the left and right sides to make the dry ice around the keyboard player stand out more. I will also reduce the brightness of the lower right hand spotlight and the affect it has on the underside of the keyboard. Both these can be done with ease using card to shade the middle area and hands cupped together to provide extra exposure to the certain areas.

The picture produces looks better but the highlight at the front (indicated in the red oval) cannot be removed easily using this technique. It's far too bright.

dodgetorch2And this is where we bring in the torch. By using a small torch such as a Maglite a sheet of black card and some sticky tape we can make a great local burning in tool that will remove the highlight with ease.

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1 Cut out a square of the card that is about 3cm longer than the circumference of the torch head.
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2 Roll it into a cone shape leaving a hole at the tapered end that is between 5mm and 10mm diameter. This depends on how big an area you want to burn in. Tape the end to hold it.
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3 Now slot the cone on to the torch and use tape to hold it in place.

dodgetorch64 Now when you make the general exposure, point the torch over the area you want to blast and wobble it to avoid a harsh exposure. Work at an angle so you don't get in the way of the rest of the exposure. You will probably have to do few practice runs to test the torch brightness. If you don't expose for long enough the area will look grey.

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