Contacts vs. Enlargements

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by johnnywalker, May 14, 2011.

  1. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    I took a trip to the Palouse area of Washington State last weekend. I developed a couple of rolls of the Delta 100 6x7 I took with my Mamiya RB67 and made contact prints. A few of them looked worthy of enlarging, but I've stalled on the first one. To make it short, the contact shows a nice tonal range and contrast, but the enlargement is just plain muddy, to put it kindly. In the print of the enlargement, there is hardly any tonal separation in the clouds - just a fairly uniform sea of mud.

    I've posted a scan of the contact and enlargement in the technical gallery, but the scanner "fixed" the enlargement so that the scan looks much better than the actual print of the enlargement.

    I'm used to having the enlargements need some work to look as good as the contact, but this one is so bad I haven't been able to come close to the contact in spite of many tries changing the filter and enlarging time. No matter what I've tried, the clouds (and other whites, like the barn roof) turn out muddy.

    Both the contact and the enlargement were done with a 2 1/2 filter, using the same lens and the same paper (Arista Edu Ultra). The lens is a Schneider-Kreuznach 80mm f5.6 Componon that I've used previously without any issues.

    The photo was overexposed and the negative is quite dense. Still, the contact turned out fine with a longer than normal exposure time.

    Am I beating a dead horse here or is there something I'm missing?
     
  2. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I don't know the answer but have had the same experience.

    It was with a set of negs from an ice climbing event two winters ago, the scenes were mostly low in contrast, open shade, with spots of brightness.

    About two weeks ago I tried again using a pm2l Beseler. Not right yet but I did figure out that I need a lot less exposure than I thought.
     
  3. naaldvoerder

    naaldvoerder Member

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    I think this is a common fenomenon. I tend to print my contacts with a soft grade, otherwise the paper doesn't cover the contrastrange of the negs. On printing a often can do with grade 2-3. I use a Heiland splitgrade which measures contrast rang. If I go up to a bigger papersize, so a bigger enlargement, printingtime goes up, but contrast range goes down slightly. I guess this will be be more noticable with smaller lightoutputs from the enlarger. Maybe this deminishing of contrastrange is also relatively bigger with dense negatives. If all this is close to the trueth, you would need a higher grade when enlarging this dense negative. I hope a more knowledgable person, like Ralph Lambrecht, could shed some light on this....

    Jaap Jan
     
  4. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    Maybe try split grade printing to see if you can coax out the contrast you want?
     
  5. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Aerial enlargement, or projection enlargement, is always different from a contact.

    Firstly, the contact will be grain sharp and in focus, well at least as in focus as the negative is in focus.

    Secondly, I find that you almost always require a higher contrast for an enlargement, if you wish to emulate the contact print.

    If you have a slight out of focus enlargement, then that print will nearly always be flatter, no matter what you do. This was one trick we used in a darkroom to tone down a contrasty negative for reproduction work. Just whack it out of focus ever so slightly and the contrast dropped like a brick.

    If you are using a colour head, then try going halfway between grade 2½ and grade 3, that is grade 2¾. Increments like that and pulling or adding exposure in 1/8 stops, can make the world of a difference.

    You may find you really have to bump the contrast up by hitting grade 4½ or more, whatever it takes to bring it to what you are after, is what you have to do.

    Mick.
     
  6. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Mick,

    That is great info!

    Now I'm going to take a little leap here.

    In a shot with short DOF the out of focus areas would/should naturally be lower in contrast.

    That would explain a lot (actually everything) on the ice shots I mentioned.
     
  7. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    One thing you might have missed... How long after proofing did you try to make the print?
    I find for me my infrequent use of the darkroom I have had print developer go somewhat stale resulting in muddy prints.
    I waste a half dozen sheets of paper finally to realize the developer is just stale.

    As to enlargement effects... do be sure that lens is clean and not dusty.
    ... I do nearly 100% of my prints with a cold light head. I seem to be able to achieve what is on my contact prints all the time since the switch to a cold light rather than condenser head.
     
  8. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    If your enlargements don't match your contact prints there is a technical problem at hand. Check for lens flare, inadequate negative masking, enlarger head light leak, improper aperture, dirty or damaged under-lens filter, bad safelight, dirty or damaged lens surfaces etc. Remember things like enlarger head light leaks and foggy lenses have no effect on contact prints made under the enlarger etc.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 14, 2011
  9. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Ic-racer,

    I think in my case it was purely the out of focus background leading me astray. Made me think I needed more exposure than I really did.

    Good lesson to learn about judging negs for printing.
     
  10. Mark Crabtree

    Mark Crabtree Member

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    I missed if this was mentioned. Condenser or diffusion enlarger?
     
  11. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I never had my contact print match enlargement in terms of tonal range and contrast AND the over-all impression of the image. I have so many negatives that look great on my tiny 35mm contact prints but not so when enlarged to 8x10.

    To me, print size has much to do with how the prints look. Even going from 8x10 to 11x14 which is only 2x the difference, I have to make minute adjustment to look just right. Going from contact print to 8x10, the difference is much larger.

    Maybe this is more of an experience thing but with tiny prints, everything looks great to my eyes.

    I understand ic-racer's comment on flair but since there are no lens with no flair, isn't it true that it WILL be there with any lens and it's just a matter of degrees? Compared to contact sheet which has nothing between the neg and paper, I can sort of understand there may be some degradation.

    I speak from about 1.5 year of experience so I may be way off though.
     
  12. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    I have both heads, but in this case it's a condenser. I'm going to try increasing the contrast and fresh developer. I have a micromega focuser, and will make sure it's in focus. I don't think the lens or a light leak is the problem. Thanks for the hints and I'll post an update later today.
     
  13. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    My printing experience indicates that enlargements sometimes require a bit more contrast. Also viewing your contacted image without the black around it may change your perception of the image. However, it should be possible to make the contact and enlargement match. As a commercial printer at one time, I had many a client that demanded it.
     
  14. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I'd definitely recommend using different contrast filters (or filter combinations) for the foreground and the sky.

    I'd suggest working first to nail down the sky, and then adjust to get the foreground right.
     
  15. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    OK, I've replaced the original scanned enlargement with another scan where I turned off all the automatic fixing, which I should have figured out how to do in the first place. This scan closely resembles the 8x10 enlargement. You can see that there is more than just a little bit of tweaking involved. As I said before, I'm used to tweaking the enlargement so it looks like the contact, but I've never seen a difference between the contact and the enlargement as dramatic as this example. I tried changing the filters, but I didn't go as high as a #4 (a number 2 1/2 was in the enlarger for both the contact and the enlargement). I'm going to try that, but it will now be tomorrow.
    Thanks for all your suggestions, and I apologize for the original scan of the enlargement. I did mention it was much muddier than the scan showed, but that's not the same as actually seeing it. Both scans are in the technical gallery.
     
  16. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    I spent a frustrating few hours on this one photo today, with some success. I recently changed from negative holders in my Durst L1000 to glass on both sides and figured out (today, after re-reading the suggestions here) I should be masking the negative. That helped somewhat, as did upping the filter to a number 5 for the sky and a 2 1/2 for the ground. I did try pre-flashing the paper on one enlargement, and I believe that helped as well. In any case, I believe I have the picture out of the mud and into the tweaking range. At least a dozen wasted sheets, but I'm stubborn and will continue till I get it as close as I can. In other words, more wasted sheets to come, but it's progressing in the right direction. I'll post the ultimate print when I'm finished. Thanks for all your suggestions! At least I'm learning something!
     
  17. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    I finally got a print I'm happy with. I think it's the best I can do with that negative. It's posted in the technical gallery, along with a description of what I ended up doing. Thanks for the suggestions!
     
  18. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Yes, yes, yes! Depending on the size of your bellows, the size of the mixing box, coverage of the lens, coating on the lens, etc. big un-masked areas can have massive effects. It can be as bad as shining a white flashlight on the paper while your are trying to make a fine print :smile: