Contact printing Weston Style (aka w/ a lightbulb)

Discussion in 'Contact Printing' started by DanielStone, Sep 26, 2009.

  1. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    hey all,

    I'm new to the LF scene, and have been enjoying it very much so far. 4x5 is what my budget can afford at this time, but I'm hoping to upgrade to an 8x10 when I can afford it. I've been contact printing 4x5 negs(both color and b/w) under the enlargers at school up until now, and enlarging sometimes, but I really like what I'm getting from the contact prints. Kind of hard to describe, but to me there seems to be a different quality about them.

    I'm still at home while attending school(i'm 21), and my parents are really leery about chemistry in the bathtub. They say I should do all my photo stuff at school, but sometimes TV gets really boring at home after a while...

    How many of you contact print with a simple light bulb, similar to how Weston and Ansel did for such a long time?

    Also, I've been reading up on Weston's process, and Ansel said that his negatives were not really up to printing, they were much better for contact printing. I've been getting good(albeit not great yet) results with my basic times for TMY-2 and EFKE 25 in HC-110 or D76 1:1.

    If any of you have had any experience doing this, and can recommend a special-wattage or type of bulb I'd need (I'm assuming a soft white, 40 or 60w)? Also, I'm guessing that adjusting contrast is somewhat out of the question, do to the fact that you're using a lightbulb, not an enlarger...

    Thanks

    Dan


    p.s. I'm planning on only doing b/w at home, not color :smile:
     
  2. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    You want a low-wattage bulb so exposure times are long - especially true if you are using enlarging paper.

    A 7 1/2 watt round bulb was the usual size.

    As far as chemicals in the bathtub - the chemicals used to clean the bathtub are the dangerous ones. Tell mom and dad that developer is pretty much coffee with washing soda, stop bath is vinegar, and fixer is the stuff used to dechlorinate water in swimming pools in case someone overdoes it with the chlorine bottle. B&W photo chemicals are some of the safest chemicals in the house.
     
  3. Phil

    Phil Member

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  4. jgjbowen

    jgjbowen Member

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    I'll second Phil and recommend you review the www.michaelandpaula.com site. It is a wealth of information for contact printing.

    Have fun and welcome to the club!
     
  5. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    this is my rough plan for how I'd set up my parents 2nd bathroom to contact print at night...

    if they'll let me :smile:

    [​IMG]

    the thing that's shaded over the sink would be a piece of plywood I'd make so that my contact frame would not fall in the sink :smile:. Gives me a work table.

    I was planning on using a 3.95 Wal-Mart Clamp Work Light with the 7 1/2 watt round bulb

    and using the shower curtain(dark blue) to cover any prints that still in the fixer while I print another, etc....

    also, how does the Arista EDU films tolerate for contact work or enlarging? Aren't they re-branded Foma films? I'm interested in their 50sht 8x10 boxes....

    also, why not use a higher wattage bulb[/b] than 7 1/2 watts?

    -Dan
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If you're contacting on enlarging paper, a higher wattage bulb will give you exposure times too short to control easily.

    If you're contacting on Lodima silver chloride paper (or the discontinued Azo, if you can find some), which is much slower than enlarging papers, you'll need a higher wattage bulb, preferably one with more UV output.

    The setup you're proposing is pretty much what I used for contact printing two apartments ago. See the first photo in this post--

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum43/10966-darkroom-portraits-6.html#post93420

    The lamp I use is a simple Ikea halogen desk lamp with the UV filter removed for contact printing on Azo or Lodima.
     
  7. David William White

    David William White Member

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    First off, good for you.

    If you are only doing 4x5 contact prints, you should be able to do this 'under the radar', as it were. You can take 8x10 paper and cut it into 4's or print right onto readily available 5x7. You don't need trays (and the horizontal space they require, and the potential for spills). You can use juice or milk jugs: I like the plastic jugs that hold 1qt. bags of milk.

    The wattage recommended was presumably for a desk lamp one foot or so off the tabletop. Any bare bulb overhead lamp will do and you can certainly find the optimum time for exposure pretty quickly. You probably want to get an exposure time in the 10 or 20 second range. You can also get ilford contrast filters 6"x6" that you can lay over your weighting glass, but it might serve you better to strive for nice negatives from a bare tungsten bulb.

    The only other thing you need is a handheld red LED flashlight (or similar), and some way to measure the increment of time.

    Just to encourage you, I've done 'emergency' contact printing by popping a Vivitar flash unit in a bathroom while a cohort stood guard outside.
     
  8. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Fomalux 312 falls into the same category, right? (Except for being RC rather than FB---but it's a chloride paper that Foma describe as "contact speed", which I assume means "in the same league as Azo and Lodima".) That's what I've been using to avoid the unreasonably short times with enlarging paper---with a 7.5W bulb, usually a bit over a metre from the negative, a typical exposure time is a minute or a little less.

    I have no real idea how *good* the Foma paper is---I don't think I have a developed enough eye yet for paper nuances---but it's cheap, convenient, and slow.

    -NT
     
  9. david b

    david b Member

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    Check ebay for rolls of Ilford paper that measure 4 inches by 500 feet.
     
  10. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    I'm waiting for Lodima, but Fuji also produces Gaslight contact printing paper, see previous APUG discussion. All my 8X10s are contact printed, and I especially like the ease of use of a manufactured paper such as AZO.
     
  11. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    have fun contact printing,
    i get my negatives bullet proof ( like mortenson suggests )
    and do long exposures with regular enlarging paper and a 300w bulb.
    long exposures meaning 100-120seconds ...
    contact prints can be really special ...

    ====

    if you are doing darkroom work at home
    go to home depot and get 5gal homer buckets
    to store your spent chemicals in.
    not all darkroom chemicals are coffee and laundry detergent ...
    find out what might be right to dispose of your darkroom waste safely and legally in your area ...
    in some places pouring then down the drain might not be the best thing to do ...
    you can get something called a silver magnet ( i may be selling / distributing them within a month or so )
    it is small 40-45$ unit that will plate out up to 30 troy oz of silver from your spent fix. ...

    when it is dry ... mail it to the company (pouch sold with the unit ) and they mail you a check
    not for all 30oz but just about all of it ... no minimums no hassles - they send in bulk
    so there is never a minimum ... ( and silver prices seem to be going up )
     
  12. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It's hard to say if the speed is comparable to Azo and Lodima without doing a side by side test with the same neg and light source at the same distance. Lodima seems to be a bit faster than Azo. If your exposure time is in the 15-90 second range, you're good.
     
  13. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    This depends on the negative. I have negatives that I expose identically on the two papers, and I have negatives where there is an order of magnitude difference in the exposure times between the two papers.
     
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  15. henrysamson

    henrysamson Subscriber

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    I have found pretty much the same thing when printing the same negative on both Azo and Lodima.
     
  16. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    Does anyone have a reccomendation for a printing frame? Right now I'd be looking for an 8x10 frame, or 8.25x10.25 so there's a little play room...

    How do the old ones work, like eht auction site listings? Is the glass something to worry about? Will I need anti-newton glass?

    I've been doing some research into just building my own. Using my friends woodshop :smile:. What type of wood, oak, ash, cherry? I'm guessing a hardwood, and I'm leaning towards red oak or something hard, yet something that can carry a clean edge so it won't splinter....

    any suggestions?
     
  17. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    One that's somewhat oversized is good. You want the kind with a split back and leaf springs hinged with a pin at the center, not with spring clips all around the perimeter. The latter type don't give even pressure in the center, in my experience. There is a frame made by Premier that is usually orange--avoid that one. The construction is a bit light. My favorite print frame is a frame sold by Kodak for dye transfer printing--very sturdy with anti-reflective glass. Old frames made by Century, Korona, Grundlach, and such are often good frames, but sometimes the corners may need to be reglued.

    Anti-Newton or anti-reflective glass are ideal. Whether you actually need it will depend on your film usually. If the film base has a retouching surface, which is often the case with sheet film, you may not need A-N or AR glass.
     
  18. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    ok david,

    right now the films I'm using are tmy-2 and efke 25. Thankfully both of these are still available in 8x10, so I'm trying to get a box here and there when my budget can allow it. Right now I'm up to 4 boxes of tmy2 and 2 boxes of efke 25. I might run some through my paint-can pinhole camera to see how things look, and can give me something to experiment with :smile:. At least until I have an 8x10 up and running.

    Do you know if there is a "vacuum" easel that doesn't have to actually be attached to a vacuum, rather, using some sort of pump to suck the air out?
     
  19. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    I've been thinking too about using aluminum to make the frame. Wood, because it is prone to warping and humidity changes, where as metal is not (at least not enough in this case :smile:).

    basically, I'd be looking to make a contact frame like this one

    http://cgi.ebay.com/10-1-2-x-8-1-2-...0?hash=item56359c90bb&_trksid=p3286.m20.l1116

    just in aluminum, and probably powdercoated or anodized to minimize reflections.

    what do you guys think?
     
  20. MenacingTourist

    MenacingTourist Member

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    My advice is to not make things harder than they have to be.

    Making your own contact printing frame (wood or metal) is fun and it's great to use tools you made yourself but it does take a good bit of time. I made mine in several sizes (all oversized) with dovetailed joints, brass hardware, etc. If you have access to a shop and know how to make them cool. Just plan on triple the time you think it will take. As far as wood vs. metal...humidity isn't going to be that big a deal with a contact printing frame.

    In the meantime you should be able to get cheap-ish frames off ebay for under $20 or so. Another option is to keep using the heavy glass sandwich and make a cut-out mask from rubylith. I've used all three options with success. The last one is by far the simplest.

    The important thing is to have fun and it sounds like you have that covered.

    Alan.
     
  21. Trevor Crone

    Trevor Crone Member

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    Dan, like you I really love contact prints and contact printing. May I recommend, 'Darkroom 2' published by Lustrum Press (1978). Out of print but avialable on the S/H market. There's a wonderful section by Cole Weston on printing his fathers negatives. He used light bulbs from 7.5 watts to 60 watts for contact printing on the faster bromide papers designed for projection printing. Edward Weston used 100 to 500 watts for contact printing on the much slower silver chloride papers.

    I've been using Lodima which others have refered to and for me it is just beautiful. For this I use an over sized light bulb, 125mm dia.(this gives me a very even illumination) and 150 watts at a distance of 20" which gives me exposures of 20 + seconds. I've attached it to an old lens panel for my enlarger and I can vary the hight to either increase or decrese the exposure time. It is also wired to an enlarger timer which is certainly not necessary but I like to use so I can easily 'dodge and burn' while it counts down.
     

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  22. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    thanks guys, I really appreciate all the help and support :smile:!

    now, the tricky thing is, getting my parents to actually let me use the bathroom for this purpose. Being that my dad is a doctor, he is a real stickler for our family's health. So getting the whole "can i bring some chemicals that you know absolutely nothing about into YOUR 2nd bathroom"? I asked him and my mum 6 months or so back, and he said no, so please pray that this time his mood has changed. Its not that he's against me doing photography( in some ways, he's very traditional and wants me to go to a 4 year, yada-yada...) but I'm a photo major and I don't think it really clicks in his head that I'm different than him in my methods of learning.

    I know there are plenty of threads on this site that go into the safety and precautions of photo chemistry, and I plan on having ALL the MSDS sheets for everything in a spiral notebook.

    All this is foreward thinking, If he lets me do this after all

    I really want to use the Lodima, and I've been soaking up Michael's writings on his site, and all the things I've been reading on here about it and its fine qualities, but starting out, I think that I'll stick with the papers I know from enlarging, EMAKS(fotokemika) and Ilford. Eventually trying Lodima!

    thanks for all the help and support, if anyone has anything to add, or thoughts on something not covered yet here, please post, cause I'm eager to learn!!!!!!


    blessings to all you!

    Dan
     
  23. mhanc

    mhanc Member

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    David -- Do you know if these are these still being made and sold by Kodak? I can't seem to find anything about them when searching on the internet. Thanks.
     
  24. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    No, they haven't been made for years, since the dye transfer process hasn't been supported for years, but sometimes they show up on the used market. They have two metal pins for registration, if you want to try masking techniques, and there is a matching punch.
     
  25. henrysamson

    henrysamson Subscriber

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    You might find this interesting:

    http://wholeplate.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=20
     
  26. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    any recommendations for a proper light bulb for the exposing lamp? frosted or clear? what wattage to start? ge, phillips, other?

    right now the films and papers I'll be using will be tmy-2 and acros in 4x5. Nothing yet in 8x10 :sad:, I don't have the camera yet :smile:. I'll be using ilford matte fb paper, as well as slavich single weight, and EMAKS G3.

    please advise :smile:

    thanks

    Dan