8x10, PlusX Aero, AZO, Print Exchange

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by John Bartley, Jun 11, 2005.

  1. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    My very first foray into AZO resulted in the 4x5 contact prints which I sent out on the last group print exchange. I was quite pleased with the prints themselves, but having rec'd three stunningly beautiful prints to compare to, I have learned now that my mounting and matting is absolutely atrociously poor and inadequate - I'll learn from this.​

    I have since purchased an 8x10 Agfa Commercial View and some PlusX Aero, so recently I headed out to "try it out". I took two pictures on my first 8x10 outing and when I got home, I developed them in trays in divided D23, which is the developer I have been using for everything (except for the odd episode with Rodinal - just so I don;t get expelled from the congregation :smile:)​

    I took the first two 8x10 negs and contact printed them on GR3 AZO and got these results.
    1) The first attempt was a bit dark :
    http://www3.sympatico.ca/oldrad/Photo/LargeFormat/Prints/AZO/Kilmaurs001.jpg
    So I redid it a bit lighter:
    http://www3.sympatico.ca/oldrad/Photo/LargeFormat/Prints/AZO/Kilmaurs002.jpg

    The second negative I also contact printed on the same AZO and got:
    http://www3.sympatico.ca/oldrad/Photo/LargeFormat/Prints/AZO/Diamond001.jpg

    I know I have a dust problem with these and have since taken steps to correct this - there's a heck of a pile of square inches of static electricity in an 8x10!
    I also found that AZO really like FRESH developer - this stuff was getting to be like a fine whiskey - OLD!! and I remembered after I did these that when I did the 4x5's, I had to use super fresh developer to get non-grainy clean whites.

    Anyway, so far so good - I'm learning as I go. I did the "next" two negative differently. I "anti-dusted" before cutting and loading the holders and I also made an ABS tube to develop in. The third and fourth negs turned out MUCH nicer. I extended the development time a bit to darken them up as the first two were very thin. I also agitated continuously in the tube and the negatives are absolutely even across the face whereas the first two weren't.
    I don't have them printed yet, but I'm looking forward to seeing the difference that trays/light agitation vs. tubes/constant agitation makes in the prints.​
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    When you switched to tubes, did you still get the lightening at the short edges that you have on the first two prints (lightening on the prints, darkening on the negs)? If that solved the problem, then the trays you were using were probably too small. If the tubes didn't solve the problem, then it looks like you are getting some bellows flare. If you can use a compendium shade to restrict the image circle that would be ideal, but any lens shade is better than none.

    So are you cutting down film from a long roll? How is that working out? Is that one of those 9.5" rolls, so you would be making 8x9.5's?
     
  3. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    Your subject for the second photo has real appeal. Your view point
    is very good; nice depth, the fence. The mail box distracts and of
    course the power lines. The subject has such appeal though that
    perhaps a friendly power company will help and a temporary
    moving of the mail box might be arranged. Dan
     
  4. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    Hi David,

    I hadn't noticed the bright edges until I scanned the negatives prior to printing them. Then I went to the negs to look and sure enough, you can see the dark swath on each side. I don't see this on the 3'rd and 4'th negs, but I haven't yet printed them - I'm hoping the tubes cured this. I really didn't like this PlusX in trays 'cause it floats. Unlike FP4+ and HP5+, I had to keep pushing it down in the trays and also, it curls viciously, so there was always one bit or another sticking out of the tray. The curl rolls quite nicely into a tube and the tube made my developing much easier

    Yes, I am cutting from long rolls. I thought about cutting 8x10, but first tried 8x9.5 and because this stuff curls so hard, it holds flat against the holder and it's stiff enough that it doesn't fall out (unless you cut it too small :sad:)
     
  5. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    Hi Dan,

    I had exactly the same thoughts......but,

    The environment that a photo subject is in, is something that I've thought about for a long time. I'm slowly coming to a couple of conclusions about myself and my photos that will steer me in a slightly different direction than someone who looks mostly at the "art" side/appeal of a photo. When I look at photos made by other people, the ones that appeal to me the most are the "realistic" photos made many years ago. Street scenes, landscapes, store fronts, town signs, etc. These all have the distractions "de jour" in them such as power lines, cars from whatever era, fire hydrants etc. When I look at those pictures, I don't say to myself "I wish the '40 Lincoln Zephyr wasn't there", but rather I see how life was actually lived, how that scene actually looked when that moment in time was captured.
    I'm not an artist. I couldn't compose a duck on water :smile:.
    So, I've pretty much decided that my photos will be "as-is", warts and all and will show all the cosmetic defects "de jour", right down to the '03 Honda Accords etc. Maybe someday, someone will look back at my photos and say "hey, Grandpa had a pretty cool truck in the old days" :smile:.

    cheers eh?
     
  6. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    Here's the prints of my 8" x 9.5" negatives #3 & 4.
    This is #3 :

    http://www3.sympatico.ca/oldrad/Photo/LargeFormat/Prints/AZO/Lanark001.jpg

    I'm having some trouble with my contact printing times. They're so short that I haven't much opportunity to dodge and/or burn.
    #3 shows my inexperience with framing and levelling - I thought I had the camera level - at least my little levelling bubble that I carry said it was:smile:. The church however looks tilted to the left - that may be because I was to the left by about 30 degrees and I didn't swing the film plane to get it parallel. I'm going to go back anbd try it again.

    This is #4 :

    http://www3.sympatico.ca/oldrad/Photo/LargeFormat/Prints/AZO/Middleville001.jpg

    I'm happy to say that this scan looks exactly like the print and I really like this one. The big tree at the left could have been dodged a bit, but when I figure out how to get longer exposure times, I'll try printing this one again.
    This one and also #3 show absolutely no lens flare that I can see.
    The developing in the tubes was soooo much easier than in trays that I think it's going to be my method of choice from now on.

    This #4 print was 5 seconds on Gr3 AZO using a 250watt 3400K bulb at about 30" through a royal blue filter. It was developed in PolymaxT mixed at 4:1 instead of the 9:1 that's recommended for regular papers. My previous exposures were 1 to 2 seconds using an 85 watt floodlamp at the same height. The higher temperature of the 250watt bulb really slowed things down. Next I think I'll try halogen at about 4000Kelvin

    cheers

    ps : the stains on the #4 print came with the paper - the paper came free from someones attic and had been there for "we don't know" how many years. It's pretty tough lookin' paper, but ideal for learning on.:smile:
     
  7. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    John, good to hear that things are working out well for you with the azo. I had a tough time with it at first, but things are better now. One thing I did learn was to use more exposure and (at times) less development to get firm highlights and decent shadows. It takes a bit of tinkering, but is worth the effort once things begin to fall into place.

    Tubes really are much easier to use, once you have a system worked out. Once things get going, give minimal agitation a try and see what you think. The degree of sharpness is another great leap forward. Congratulations on your work with azo and keep up the good work! tim
     
  8. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    Thanks for the tip Tim. I was wondering about overexposing to darken the negative a bit and extend print times, but also wondered about increasing the contrast too much. I always hate to waste, but heck, at $0.50/neg cutting it off a roll, I'll try a couple of different exposures and development times :smile:

    Yup !! This is the sharpest print yet. Next I'm going to have to measure my ground glass depth and see how it matches the depth to film on my holders. I think there "might" be a small problem there. I'm guessing the tolerance is a few thousandth's at the most, and I'll bet I'm out 30. (1/32")

    cheers
     
  9. Dr. Dagor

    Dr. Dagor Member

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    Why the Aero Film Curls

    The reason the Aero film curls is that it is 3 mil base instead of 7.5 mil base and is stored in tightly wound rolls. Curl City!

    I've had real problems with it not wanting to lay flat in the 5x7 film holders I use. It's a real problem to load into the backs. And when you load a piece and look at it with the dark slide out of the back, you can see the curl even as the film just sits in the back. I'd put a vacuum back on my Linhof, but I don't think my assistant could suck hard enough to hold the film flat (hoho).

    I imagine that 8x10 Aero is a complete bear! Curl could also be part of the development problem contributing to the short edge darkening.
     
  10. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    Yup !! I still have to re-use the film holder that suffered the flare, but I have a feeling that using tubes was the solution (at least for me). I know that development on the first two in trays was not done well.
    As far as loading the holders, the loading goes ok and the curl seems to hold the film flat against the back of the holder. I'm cutting at 8", so the curl runs along the 9.5" (long) side and seems to help, not hinder (so far).

    cheers
     
  11. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Not familiar with the properties of Aero film, but try pouring on the exposure to bump printing times. Give it a stop and then another to see what gives you a reasonable time. Keep development the same at first and see what you get, but it should give you a dense film with similar contrast. You will be shifting the density up, but how much depends on the film.

    I have some film which needs just a 25 watt bulb and others which need more, but the contrast range needs to be there for good tonality throughout. Once you have exposure nailed down for print times, change development times to tweak contrast and you should be there. I'm using SBR numbers now and have had much better "luck" with contrast, but one thing at a time. tim
     
  12. Daniel Grenier

    Daniel Grenier Member

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    Hi John;

    Remember how to get to my place? Come on over sometime and see for yourself what "real" AZO prints look like. I have several hanging on my walls by George Provost and Paula Chamlee and these prints are technically perfect. Bring some of yours for comparison. You'll find it a good learning experience.

    I also suggest that you are (unknowingly) making several fundamental mistakes in your approach and we can discuss those when you come over.

    In the meantime, I encourage you go to the AZO Forum for all the answers you can possibly have about AZO. It's a really great resource.
    http://www.michaelandpaula.com/mp/AzoForum/default.asp

    Give me a call or PM and we'll take it from there.

    Cheers - Daniel
     
  13. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    Hello Daniel,

    I do remember the road to your house and will take you up on this offer when the pressures of summer relax a bit. I am absolutely certain that I am making more than a few :smile: mistakes, so there should be LOTS of room for improvement.
    I'll PM you later in the summer to arrange a get-together.

    cheers and thank you :smile: