Contrast in Prints

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by KevinR, Mar 2, 2005.

  1. KevinR

    KevinR Member

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    Hey Everybody,
    I have a few questions, don't know how simple they are?

    I am printing with Ilford Multigrade IV MGF. Developing in Sprint chemistry at the moment.

    It seems that I am using really too much contrast filters just to get a decent print. The negs have decent contrast to them.

    Does this paper have a dendency to need that boost with the contrast filters?
    Does the developer have any play in the contrast of the prints?
    Could there be something with the enlarger?

    Any help would be appreciated

    Thanks
     
  2. mark

    mark Member

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    As you enlarge and move the neg away from the paper your contrast will decrease. With 35mm you lose contrast pretty quick. basically your "normal grade" filter needs to increase to number three paper not number two.

    I went through the same thing as you. Compare your contact sheet to the neg and there will be tons of contrast. There is nothing wrong with the paper it is the nature of enlargement.
     
  3. geraldatwork

    geraldatwork Member

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    I'm familiar with the Ilford paper (basically the only paper I use) but not the developer. One of the variables that can influence contrast is the enlarger. Diffusion enlargers tend to need between a half and whole grade more contrast than condenser enlargers. I have a color enlarger and my typical negative requires the amount of filtration equivalent to between 2 1/2-3 1/2 contrast. When you say not enough contrast are your whites Grey and/or are you not getting blacks?
     
  4. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    I print fiber based Ilford and have no problem myself. Some negs need more contrast than others.
    What type of enlarger are you using? Condenser or cold diffuser? I'm told there is a difference but can't say from experience. Certain developers can be low contrast or "soft" as well. Sorry, again I've never used Sprint myself.
    What is the scene? What filter are you using? Have you tried printing it in just white light (no filter)? It is said that no filter is like a #2 but when you do both, there is a difference (to me anyway).
     
  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    If your negs are contrasty check your enlarger lens is it dusty or dirty, sometimes they get condensation inside.

    Otherwise check your developer, it may have gone off, be to cold or just be the wrong type or wrong dilution.

    The size of enlargement will make no differance, unless you are running into excessively long exposures and getting reciprocity failure in the prints, this is quite unusual.
     
  6. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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  7. geraldatwork

    geraldatwork Member

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    I've also found when going to a larger size print that my contrast stays basically the same. Maybe slightly more contrast but not enough to talk about.
     
  8. KevinR

    KevinR Member

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    I'm using at the moment a 23CII w/ nikkor 2.8 lens. Lens looks good. I must say that this is happening in a college darkroom. The developer is new, because I make the instructor change it. I will have my darkroom up and running in a few weeks, it might not be a problem then, but I want to head it off if it is.

    Quote:
    When you say not enough contrast are your whites Grey and/or are you not getting blacks?

    Probably Blacks not being black enough.

    I am usually going with a 5 or 6 on the contrast.
     
  9. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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  10. KevinR

    KevinR Member

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    You may have something there on the light leak. The enlarger I use doesn't hold down on the neg carrier as tight as I would like.
     
  11. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    While the effective contrast does not alter with enlargement size, the visual effect is one of a decrease in contrast as the print size is increased. This has been recognized and reported by a number of noted photographers over the years. The reason is that as print size increases the tonal information is spread further apart and the visual effect is one of a decrease in contrast.

    However, if one is consistantly using high contrast filtration to achieve the desired print contrast then the negative simply has not been developed to the desired density range to match the exposure scale of the paper.
     
  12. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

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    A safelight that's not safe enough can cause dull prints. Multigrade papers are sensitive to a wider spectrum than the graded papers, and it wouldn't surprise me to find some old style safelights in college darkrooms. The Kodak web site has a pdf about safelight testing. It might seem too involved, but at least the first test is very much worth doing. The basic point is to expose the test sheet to a light grey first, and then do the coin test. Or try printing without the safelight at all, if you can, to compare. There should be no difference.

    One thing I resort to when I lose my bearings (is it the film, my lighthead,...?) is to use a sheet of graded paper (probably grade 3 for 35mm) to narrow down the possibilities.
     
  13. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Bruce
    I would tend to agree with Marks statement, how much the contrast decreases is debatable, but I have noticed a slight loss of visual contrast with enlargement.
    I do not think that this is the answer to the original post though.
     
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  15. KevinR

    KevinR Member

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    I am only enlarging to 8X10. Negs look good. I am thinking it might be that enlarger.

    One of the questions though, does developer have any effect on contrast? I'm not really talking about strength, but brand. I know that sprint chemistry is one of the cheapest on the market.

    The safelight idea is interesting also. When my darkroom is up and running, I will probably answer that question. By the way, I am using the darkroom because I am an instructor there, so its free to me. Not photography, but welding and metallurgy
     
  16. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    Kevin, try a safelight test. Take a small piece of photo paper (size of a wallet photo will do) and put a coin on it for 15 min. Process that piece of paper and if there is the ouline of the coin, the safelight is no good. A bad safelight will give you a bad case of the grays.
     
  17. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I recently tried the Sprint print developer with Ilford MGIV, and found the results about the same as using dektol. FWIW, I think the differences between print developers are far more subtle than differences between film developers. How long did you keep it in the developer? For awhile I was only developing for two minutes, but recently, I've been developing for three minutes, and I get much richer blacks.

    Hope that helps a little!
     
  18. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    I hope you followed that; put the coin on the paper with the room lights off and the safelights ON.
     
  19. Will S

    Will S Member

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    This article has a really interesting way to test the safelight(s). It argues that you need to expose the paper before the test in order to increase its sensitivity, as paper that has some exposure already is more sensitive to the safelight than paper with no exposure.

    Check it out:

    http://www.jobo-usa.com/faq/safelight_testing.htm
     
  20. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Thanks Will

    this is why I like this site so much, a quick link and a practical tool for the darkroom .
     
  21. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    I agree in that this is not Kevins problem, nor is a leaky enlarger the problem (I do suppose an enlarger could leak different amounts of light at different elevations). But a filter is a filter is a filter. A grade of filtration does not change its grade due to weakness of light being transmitted. I'd bet you a dime to a donut the original exposure was not what it was thought it to be. Or the enlarging calculations were off. Could even be the enlarging lens iris may be off. Maybe a given lens' f-11 isn't REALLY 2 stops less light as 5.6?
     
  22. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    What about condensation on the enlarger lens from breathing? That could reduce contrast. I've noticed a drop in contrast before, and it took me ages to realise that I was breathing on the lens which was just above mouth level. I know it sounds stupid, but it can happen.
     
  23. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Hi Bruce

    Yes a filter is as you say, I just think that as you enlarge there is more chances for bounce light , even off your body , walls ect. that can cause flare that could be responsible for the visual loss of contrast that Donald was referring too. When making 30x40 prints off 2.25 negatives I am always kicking up a grade in contrast for final print at the larger size.
    This loss is not always a concern depending upon imagery printing. If the scene is already high in range maybe this softening that I am referrring to is a good thing.
     
  24. KevinR

    KevinR Member

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    I will try the safe light test when I get back in there. That really coud be it. If thats it then when my darkroom is going, it shouldn't be a problem.

    Man, I can't wait to get everything going!

    Thanks for all of the info. Got alot of stuff to check on.
     
  25. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I don't know whether developers effect contrast, but development certainly does. It is vital to let the print develop fully, not just wait until it looks right by safelight in the tray. A full minute is the norm, but I find that waiting longer (up to two minutes) does add a bit of extra zest.

    David.
     
  26. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I'd definately suggest doing these tests, but the problem may not show.

    Ilford Multigrade gave me problems a few years ago obtaining good grades. I was using a Photax Orange/Red safelight at the time and Photax brought out a new Brown VE filter specifically for variable contrast papers to overcome these problems.

    Changing the filter instantly solved my problems, not all manufacturers safelights are identical so you have to get the filter that best suits your needs.