Originally Posted by Freakscene
I am not arguing with this for you. And Erik's prints look great, I just don't see anything in them that comes from split grade printing.
Modern papers don't need different exposures with different contrast grades, in my experience. But it also depends on the light source and the paper.
In years of darkroom printing, including 10+ years working professionally printing other people's photos, having to stop, change filter and re-expose would have cost me way more time than exposing once. I really don't see how it would be faster.
Like I said, in unmanipulated
prints there isn't a difference. We are both in agreement on that.
As far as speed goes, it just depends on your experience. An inexperienced printer needs to figure out contrast and time. If he starts with one filter he can figure out the time with the first test strip but not the contrast. Then he makes a print and it has the wrong contrast. Back to square one. Then he changes the contrast but that will affect the time as well. Chasing his tail. With split printing he just needs two test strips and he is pretty much done. So it is faster to arrive at the end point. The majority of time in the darkroom is spent standing over trays. Changing a filter only takes a second. If it saves you from making a test print or two, then the timed saved is pretty significant.
The big advantage of split printing is in manipulating an image, especially with highlight contrast and shadow contrast. Burning and dodging with one exposure does not affect the other exposure since you are manipulating different layers in the emulsion. There is a reason why every good printer I've ever met uses some form of split printing. Commercial printers tend to want to make the print fast on as few sheets of paper as possible. Printing fast for other people and printing the best quality for yourself are two different things.