Disappointed with color printing results

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Wolfeye, Jun 8, 2010.

  1. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    I'm just about through my first (and last?) batch of chemicals for developing color prints. I'm using the Arista 2-bath kit sold by Freestyle, and Kodak Endura paper. I must say, I hate it. I'm having enormous trouble getting the colors to look anywhere close to right. Even a color filter viewing kit doesn't help much. One extremely yellow print looks extremely yellow under the filters too.

    Is it the chemistry? Is in my eyes? Lack of experience? All the above?
     
  2. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    If your print is severly off, viewing filters will correct the print to a neutral print, but the saturation will be completely off because the colors are clipping. Make sure your chemistry is not bad (I use the kodak stuff which works wonders) and start with a filter pack of about 75M 75Y for supra endura (in kodak chemistry using a beseler digital dichro.) Try making ginormous corrections, and make sure you're going in the correct direction. The first time I printed I corrected backwards and due to the adjustment of times it looked at first like I was going in the right direction. Adding Yellow filtration makes the print look LESS yellow, and more blue. Adding magenta filtration makes the print look less magenta, more green. Cyan less cyan more red. etc.

    If your print is way too yellow, crank the yellow filtration up all the way to see if you can make a print that's too blue. It will then be somewhat easier to say, "well, neutral looks more towards the yellow print than the blue one, so I'll use a value more towards the first one." or something to that effect. Remember your print will get lighter with increase of filtration.

    Feel free to PM me with any questions. Don't give up: it takes patience but is very rewarding.
     
  3. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    I would say use the Kodak chemicals, purely out of scientific doubt. I have no idea who does the Arista kits, and how chemically stable/accurate/pure they are.

    The hard thing about colour printing is that mistakes look really bad. A smudge of a finger will grow into a rainbow fingerprint once the print has dried; a speck of dust will take a Vermeer's eye to spot with the correct tone, etc.

    Also: get a good book on colour printing, whether it's a typical intro-to-darkroom book with a colour section, or the drier but excellent Kodak Color Dataguides. Keep your temperatures constant (+/- 1 degree), make sure you always use fresh developer (never use mixed RA4 dev that spent more than a few days in bottles), use a stop bath if you must, time yourself precisely, get a processing drum kit (Unicolor are cheap and plentiful; a JOBO if you're really dedicated!). Make sure you have good viewing lights (tungsten or halogen, not fluorescent!).
     
  4. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    A quick tip to anyone who wants to make RA-4 prints with a Meopta Magnifax 4a Color enlarger:

    - try starting off your filter pack as follows: cyan 0, magenta 100, yellow 100.

    Tom
     
  5. mtjade2007

    mtjade2007 Member

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    Last time I dug out some prints I made 20 years ago with Arista and Kodak chemicals there were no difference between the prints done bu both chemicals, except (a very big one) that colors on the ones done with Arista are completely faded to a point that the prints have to be tossed. On the other hand the colors on the prints done with Kodak chemicals are only slightly faded.
     
  6. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    This is probably due to the use of CD4 instead of CD3 in the color developer, but I cannot really tell as there can be other reasons.

    PE
     
  7. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Since you cannot tell, its the lack of experience. You can rule out the eyes unless the everything you look at is yellow. As far as the chemistry, even if it causes a color shift, you should be able to adjust the filters to compensate, at least to some degree. Sounds like you lack the knowledge in the area of adjusting the filter pack.
     
  8. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    The posted example shows multiple problems.

    I've posted some suggestions with the photo.

    PE
     
  9. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Don't give up just yet..

    Since you're printing negs, filter packs are totally counter intuitive. Also, you only use the yellow and magenta filters. I think APUGers are awesome folks so posting some examples will go a long way in getting help. After you get a hang of it, it's really a blast. :smile:
     
  10. hrst

    hrst Member

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    I'm sorry, but this is so full of misinformation that I'm surprised. Those tips will probably lead to a completely wrong direction, not helping with the actual problem at all.

    Firstoff, RA-4 is very tolerant to temperature and time variations, at least with Supra Endura. People have used it from 20C to 40C. I develop always 2 minutes at room temperature, which is from 23C to 25C. I've tried 1.5 and 3 minutes and that doesn't make a big difference at all. This all can be easily verified from many sources. Of course, it's best to be as consistent as possible, but this is not the source of the problems.

    Then, mixed RA-4 developer keeps very well. The official instruction is probably something like a month (definitely not days! Check this if you don't believe me), but I've used almost one year old developer without any problems, as have many. (Mono-concentrated blixes, however, may be dead if the product has been on the shelf for a year or so.)

    And finally, I think many if not most find drums tedious compared to simple trays. This is a matter of taste, but the fact is that using a drum will NOT solve the problems in question; in fact, drum can be even more difficult if there is a problem with excessive chemical carryover. So, if OP likes to work with trays, as many of us like, there's absolutely no need to adopt any new workflow.

    Does the Arista kit have a single concentrate for blix? If so, it's probably the same kind of crap as Tetenal. I had yellowish/brownish staining problem with the Tetenal blix. It just has a shelf life of 6 months or so, as an UNOPENED concentrate! Buy the Kodak.

    The example picture seems to have a bit of cyanish fog -- are you sure all the lights are completely blocked? Any red light might cause cyanish fog. Then, check the date of your paper. And, finally, that browniness might partially be caused by a faulty blix.
     
  11. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    My screen is non-calibrated so I'm not sure I'm seeing the same colour as everyone else (I see a little red in the skin). But I was wondering how is the scene lit. The shadows seem to indicate a light source from directly above, a regular room light? Could this be part of the issue?
     
  12. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Steve;

    Good point! If it is fluorescent lighting, this might cause a cast in highlights.

    PE
     
  13. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    Thanks to all, for the comments thus far. If I want to continue with my experiments I'll have to rule out each possibility one at a time - and at additional expense. That is of course, one method of learning, trial and error. I wish it were easier.

    The blix, if I remember right, came in two parts.
     
  14. hrst

    hrst Member

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    Try first with a neg that is properly exposed, or a bit overexposed (but not underexposed) outdoors in daylight. Then you have one problematic factor less (the lighting). When you get the process right and have learned to print negatives with standard color balance and contrast, you can try the more demanding indoor shots.
     
  15. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Yes, RA4 can be used at many temperatures. But if you develop print A at 30C and print B at 45C you won't be using the same filter pack.

    The point is that you want to be consistent. Kodak gives +/- 0.3 Celsius as a margin for the developer, and a much larger margin of variation for the stop and blix. Developer is what I'm concerned about.

    RA4 developer that was stored in bottles has always given me troubles beyond one month: splotches, difference in colour balance, etc. They were kept in the dark, in brown glass, at constant temperature, full to the brim, hermetically sealed.

    The OP did not say whether or not he was working with trays. I suggest drums because they're easy to time.

    Did you really feel the need to be superlatively offended by my rather reasonable suggestions? This is poor forum behaviour.

     
  16. Photo Engineer

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    Michel;

    Over the range of 20C to 38.8C, I have found about a 10R variation max. It may differ for others, but that is using Supra Endura and RA-RT developer replenisher. I have found that I can run more prints per hour in a tray than a drum considering drying time for the drum between runs. The only way to beat my tray output with a drum is to have about 6 drums or so to save on drying time.

    I hope that my disagreement with you based on practical experience is of some use to help change your mind a bit.

    pe
     
  17. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    I'll add this suggestion: Do a color ringaround. That is, print part of the image multiple times on a single sheet of paper, varying the cyan, magenta, and yellow filtration up and down for each print. If your color is way off, make each of the adjustments huge (say, 20 units). If the color is close, make each adjustment smaller (say, 5 units). This will help you zero in on the correct color settings. There are special easels made just for this purpose, but you can use any easel you like in conjunction with some appropriate masking materials -- sheets of thick paper with sections cut out or what have you.
     
  18. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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    srs5694 suggestion is spot on. Also, get a gray card and take one shot of it on each film type you are using. If you are taking both indoor and outdoor pictures, take one gray card shot outdoors and one indoors. When you are just beginning, balancing color of a gray card shot is enormously easier than of some random photo. After you get filtration for the gray card, you can just keep it for the rest of the roll if the light was similar.

    I used both Arista and Kodak's chemistry. Both produced good results for me, at least initially. I have no experience of how long the prints will last. All my bets are on the Kodak though ;-)
     
  19. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Well, I've used drums because the space I had was not well setup enough to use trays in total darkness. As for filter pack/temp variations, all I'm suggesting is trying to stick to a constant temperature to minimize variations. Sometimes a variation of 2CC can make a visible difference.
     
  20. tim elder

    tim elder Member

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    I looked at both your example print and your negative scan of the same image and neither of them looked right to me; in fact, I'd almost go as far to say that I preferred the look of your print over the negative scan, but both of them looked wrong to me in terms of color balance. This, of course, could be my monitor...

    I think that you should start with an easier negative to print. Interior lighting is more difficult to print than exterior lighting and takes more experience. Also, it is imperative that you have a decent viewing area to judge color balance. I print color in a rental darkroom and even though all of the viewing areas there are good, each one has a slightly different color balance. It takes some practice to become accomplished at color printing and don't be discouraged by your first results.

    Tim
     
  21. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    My latest attempt was another failure. Spent 3 nights making test prints, one each night, carefully examining them. All was going fine. Then I made the "final" print last night (see gallery image) and the print is horribly foggy.

    *le sigh*

    :smile: