Digital Lith printing

Please look at the picture full size to see the intended effect.

I have noticed that there is a constant stream of search engine terms – digital Lith printing coming up on my blog. This would suggest there a desire to know how the look is achieved.

If you do search with digital Lith printing you will first be directed to alternative If you search there for Lith you will find Skip Smith (a friend and follower of this little blog – hi Skip) who prints in the darkroom and then scans the print. So that is not what you are looking for.

The Adobe CS 2 tutorial found next in the search is complete wrong and was not written by a photographer who knew what a real Lith print looks like. I think the tea boy at Adobe wrote that one, thinking you could substitute soul-less digital noise for delicious film grain.

Next the Tim Rudman World of Lith Book does contain various digital Lith methods but the books real focus is on darkroom Lith control. If you can get hold of a copy of this book it will help to point you in the right direction.

The ranger finder forum post leads no where of interest to those in this search for a digital Lith print.

You might have thought that a search on the DPUG (Digital Photographers Users group) might throw up something useful – no.

Eventually the search brings up a post I did last November called “For the love of digital lith printing”.

The qualities of a Lith print are highlights with smooth contrast, a warm tone and fine grain, the shadows are a cool tone, contrasty with coarse grain. I was going to put a screen grab of the layer stack for this picture “Copse Impression 2” but I could not save it in a format acceptable to WordPress.

A key requirement for making a successful digital Lith print is the control of contrast.

The basic layer stack for a lith print using my method from the top down is usually along these line:

  • Lith global contrast curve – Luminosity mode.
  • Highlight tone Contrast Curve linked to the H&S layer below with a layer mask – Luminosity mode.
  • Warm tone Hue & Sat Layer with a layer mask, adjustment to the Hue, Saturation and Lightness.
  • Cool tone Hue and Sat layer with layer mask, adjustment to the Hue, Saturation and Lightness.
  • Global brightness reduction curve – Luminosity mode.
  • SFX 2 on a smart filter background copy layer for 125 ASA fine grain – adjustments to the grain, mask, brightness and contrast.
  • SFX 2 ditto for 3200 ASA Coarse grain – adjustments to the grain, mask,  brightness and contrast.
  • Background layer.

The layer masks may have to be redone after the contrast is decided upon as this may shift the location of grain and colour.

The example layer stack noted above does not include the usually necessary selective lightening and darkening layers, edge darkening etc.

Note this method using SFX2 twice may create very large file sizes of nearly 1 Gb.

The file is saved as TIFF file to keep the layers in tact and then exported back in to Lightroom 3.

A big hello and welcome to the new followers of my little blog.

(c) Andy Beel FRPS

8 responses to Digital Lith printing

  1. A.Barlow says:

    Been coming here a while and always find your posts interesting – and the images. I have about a dozen or so rolls of various film I might try and process this way. I’m more of a digital guy, but love the look of film. Thanks for the inspiration.


    • andybeel says:

      Hi Marianne give it a try and you will find a paradox. The darkroom process gave you the look by just doing the processing correctly. Digitally every parameter and decision is open to taste and change. It helps to know what you are aiming at before start. An alternative way to put the tone in is to use the Gradient Editor. Hope this helps. Andy


  2. athyfoto says:

    “I was going to put a screen grab of the layer stack for this picture “Copse Impression 2″ but I could not save it in a format acceptable to WordPress.”

    Hi Andy,
    I use the “Snipping Tool” in Windows and save as a jpeg. Alternatively I use the PrtSc button to capture the whole screen, then paste into photoshop and crop to whatever part of the screen I want, again saving to a jpeg. I have used these methods to show Layer Stacks in a few tutorials.


    • andybeel says:

      Hi Frank I see the Snipping Tool is in Windows 7 but I have downloaded it for XP. I will try to get it to work with Vista 64 bit. Thanks for the tip. Andy


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