basics of contact printing using my enlarger as light source.

Discussion in 'Contact Printing' started by stradibarrius, Feb 27, 2011.

  1. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    I have just started shooting LF and my 6x7 enlarger will not cut it. I am going to try contact printing for the first time.
    I was just going to lay the negatives on the paper and place a piece of glass on top.

    If I have VC paper can I just use the same filter as regular enlarging?
    What about time? If I normally use between 10-15 secs would it be the same when contact printing??
     
  2. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    For contact prints:

    1) pick a negative carrier and elevation for your enlarger that will project a lighted area that is big enough to cover your negative and paper with room to spare. Record/mark that elevation and carrier and the focus setting you are using;
    2) If you use VC paper, start with the setting or filter you use for average contrast;
    3) Stop the lens down to about 3 stops smaller than maximum. Record that setting;
    4) Do test prints leading to the minimum exposure required to just get maximum black through clear film. Record that exposure. It should be somewhat close to your 10 - 15 second timing (if those prints were also done at 3 stops below maximum);
    5) Now do test prints with your particular negative, to fine tune that particular print. If possible, you should start out with something you might consider an "average" negative.

    If the fine tuning requires big changes as to contrast and exposure, you may need to adjust your "standard" starting point to make subsequent negatives easier to deal with.

    Contact prints look subtly different than enlarged prints, so don't hesitate to experiment a bit until you get a "standard" look that you like.
     
  3. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Yes, the same filters work the same. No reason they would not unless you change papers. There will be a slight contrast difference, however.

    Exposure times will be similar if you keep your enlarger's height about the same as it is when you enlarge. If they are too long or short, you can use the lens aperture to adjust your times. No need to worry about opening all the way up or stopping all the way down if necessary; the lens' optical performance doesn't matter any more with contact printing. You could shine a light through the back of a Holga and probably get the same quality as with an enlarging lens. As long as the illumination is even, you are fine with whatever lens. Some folks don't even use a lens, or an enlarger for that matter.

    All this stuff is trivial compared to the real source of stress with contact printing. IMHO, cleanliness (e.g. DUST) is the biggest hurdle to getting a good contact print. I'd keep a neg brush and compressed air always within reach, and use cotton gloves. Always have some good glass cleaning supplies nearby too. Use an air filter, ionizer, hang a plastic trash bag, print in the nude, whatever you have to do to keep dust at a minimum.
     
  4. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    And then learn how to spot your prints. You will eventually be pownd by dust no matter how elaborate your precautions.
     
  5. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    Well hopefully contact printing will just be a stop gap method for me to be able see my 4x5 negatives. My scanner will do up to MF as will my current enlarger. I have amy eye on a couple of 4x5 enlargers so maybe I want have this problem too long.
     
  6. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Be sure and post some of your contacts so we can see how you're doing.
     
  7. sergiob

    sergiob Member

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    And most important, be sure to throw way out of focus your enlarger or you will be projecting the shadows of dust in your condensers and your film holders.