Dodging/Burning w/Beseler-Minolta 4x5 A Head : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Is it possible to dodge and burn with a Beseler-Minolta 4x5 A head, the pulse type head? Can one vary to intensity of each pulse with this head? With continuous light heads, one can move the dodging or the burning device around to blur the edges, so that the dodging and burning isn't obvious. Is this possible with the Beseler-Minolta head? If so, how is it accomplished? If possible, is it tricky or is it convenient?

-- neil poulsen (, January 01, 2002


Neil: Hope you haven't bought one of those heads. They are despicable heads to try to print with. I never tried to print black and white with one, but we used to have one in our color darkroom that I really learned to hate. I know that it is difficult to burn in the edges or to dodge while color printing, as the colors shift. The bulbs burn out pretty often and are expensive to replace.

Happy New Year,

-- Doug Paramore (, January 01, 2002.

I owned a Beseler 45A head until about five years ago and used it for both color and black and white work. I thought it was far and away the best color head I ever worked with but for black and white it left something to be desired. Times tended to be very slow with black and white because blue and green lights operate. The red light becomes inoperative in black and white mode, thus decreasing the light output by a third. The head is designed to make all prints in seven seconds but it frequently takes longer than that, particularly with black and white because of the loss of the red light, so dodging and burning often can be done just as you would with any light source. Also, a foot switch controls the head and when burning it's relatively simple to turn the light on a second or third time using the foot switch if the first exposure wasn't long enough for the burn. Finally, as I recall there is a "slow down" mode the head can be placed in specifically to facilitate dodging and burning, though I don't recall ever really needing it. Still and all, I think it's fair to say that color is the mode in which this head really shines, black and white is something that you definitely can do but I wouldn't buy the head to use it only for black and white work.

-- Brian Ellis (, January 01, 2002.


I use the head exclusively for black and white printing, and it actually is very well suited. First step is to press the Mode button to change to B&W mode. Then (I am not in the darkroom, so I can't remember exactly what the buttons are called, but I'll try to explain) you have several modes within B&W. It's default is A, which stands for All, and is the head's effort to cram all the light you have requested into the shortest exposure possible. Then there is AL mode, which is All-Long, which takes the same exposure and breaks it into ten equal parts, stretching the exposure out over 30 or so seconds, giving you ten equal "clumps" of light; you can manage your dodging and burning very accurately by counting the number of clumps for each maneuver. Finally, there are reen and lue, where the enlarger exposes the two colors individually, allowing you to do very precise split-contrast dodges and burns. Once you get familiar with the basic modes, it is a total joy, easy to use and very easy to get perfectly consistent results from one print to the next. Feel free to email me directly if you get confused by this.


-- ward shortridge (, February 03, 2002.

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