First attempt at printing in over 10 years.. help!

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by fong, Sep 22, 2008.

  1. fong

    fong Member

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    After a 10-year+ hiatus from the darkroom, I finally managed to find some free time this weekend to squeeze everything into my small bathroom for a printing session. Since it's been so long, I used a PDF from Ilford's website on making B&W prints as my reference. Unfortunately, despite following all of the instructions in that PDF (with the exception of applying a filter since I don't have filters and my enlarger's color head's yellow filter dial seems to be busted), no matter what I tried to produce a test print, all I got were prints that were completely black once developed, except for the parts of the paper that were not exposed (i.e., masked by the easel).

    Ilford's PDF suggests a 2-second exposure at f8 of the entire sheet followed by 2, 4 and 8 seconds of additional exposure while masking quarters of the paper. Does that sound about right? Is there another technique I should be trying?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Did you do a good old test strip? If the paper turns black, you have exposed too heavily. Perhaps you're using a stronger wattage bulb than their recommendations are based on.

    - Thomas
     
  3. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    I would stop the lens down more if the paper is black. If f/8 gives blacks at 2 seconds, go to f/22 and try again. If your negatives are thin (mostly clear) you will have to stop down quite a bit to keep the paper from being over exposed. Thomas has a very good point too - if the bulb is not the correct one, you could be putting out way too much light.

    - Randy
     
  4. fong

    fong Member

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    I'm at work at the moment, but will check on the bulb's wattage when I get home. I didn't think of stopping the lens down further, but will definitely give that a try the next time I get some time in the dark(bath)room. I guess it was late and I figured it had to be because I was messing something up. :smile:
     
  5. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Once you focused the neg on the easel using the biggest stop for light, you need to make sure that you stop down, maybe a couple of stops at least. It is easy to forget. I remember getting red after red cast colour prints at first until I noticed that I hadn't swung the colour filter arm back down. Such things aren't unfortunately second nature at first. In a darkroom in the early days of printing or returning to it, there are all sorts of blind spots - pun deliberate!
    Certainly a couple of seconds at f2.8 will be enough to blacken a print or nearly so unless the neg is particularly dense.

    pentaxuser
     
  6. Paul VanAudenhove

    Paul VanAudenhove Member

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    What kind of enlarger are you using? Condenser or diffusion? Diffusion enlargers are usually slower (take more time to expose) than condenser enlargers.
     
  7. fong

    fong Member

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    So I'm back at home now, and I just checked the bulb in my Beseler 23C II: the markings on the bulb indicate it's a GE 200 W (EJL) bulb. I got this enlarger second-hand many years ago along with a copy of the manuals. I'm using the dual dichro head in diffusion mode; the manual for the colour head suggests a 250 W (EVW) bulb so I guess I'm using a lower-powered bulb than is recommended.

    I wouldn't be surprised if there was something wrong with the dichro head, though. Moving the yellow filter dial doesn't seem to adjust anything -- I guess there's a loose connection somewhere. :sad:
     
  8. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Sorry to hear that yellow seems inoperative but the problem as you describe is, I feel, unnconnected to the filters. I don't know how a Beseler works but I'd remove all the filters and I'd stick with the 2,4 and 8 secs and keep stopping down until you produce a print that has all the details of the neg on it. If it's a multigrade paper which I presume it is then without filters it will be about grade 2 so the contrast may be slightly harsh or a little soft unless the neg is right for a grade 2 print but you should have a reasonable print.

    pentaxuser
     
  9. Kevin Kehler

    Kevin Kehler Member

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    Are you sure about the paper? If it has been exposed inadvertently, it could produce all black prints. I guess a check of the safelight is also in order.
     
  10. fong

    fong Member

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    @pentaxuser - Thanks, I will stopping down more the next time I have the chance to lug everything into the bathroom. Again, I don't know why I didn't think of trying that last night... :confused: I guess I was too fixated on following the "rules" in Ilford's PDF! (Bad move, I know...)

    @Kevin - Although I wouldn't rule out the safelight (I did buy it brand new), the edges of the paper that did not get exposed at all remained white after fixing so I'm pretty sure I'm not dealing with a fogging issue. Still, I'll keep an eye on that.

    Hmm, I suppose I could forego dinner in favour of giving this another shot tonight.... :D
     
  11. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    So, how was dinner? :D
     
  12. Mark Layne

    Mark Layne Member

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    I would think 75W more appropriate for a 23C
    Mark
     
  13. fong

    fong Member

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    @Thomas - Ha! In the end, pragmatism won out over darkroom work. Dinner was fine. :wink:

    @Mark - I think the 23C's condenser head uses a 75 W bulb, but the dichro head seems to want a stronger 250 W bulb (that's what my copy of the manual says anyway). Of course, I could just be reading that wrong...
     
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  15. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Have you checked to see if the 23C has a lever that swings the filters out of the light path for focussing? My 4x5 Dichro has is and that will make all the filters inoperative. If this is the problem and you get control of the filters back you can also add ND filtration by dialing in all filters the same amount until you get workable times.
     
  16. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    Did you forget to turn off the room white light? I know that sounds stupid, but I know a person that did just that. Couldn't understand why all his prints were black. Happens to the best of us.:rolleyes:
     
  17. fong

    fong Member

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    Gary,

    Only the yellow filter dial does not seem to move the filter in and out. I seem to be able to manipulate the filter manually inside the colour head (although because the lamp goes off when you open the top, I can't confirm whether it actually does anything), so I think the dial must have somehow disconnected from the sliding filter assembly... I did some quick searching on how I might be able to fix it, but so far, nothing. :sad: In any event, I agree that the filtration is probably not causing my problem, but it would be nice to fix this anyway.
     
  18. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    Perhaps your negatives are a bit thin? Also if you are printing small prints and the head is close to the paper, you'll need to stop down more or lengthen your times (generally).

    You could remove the negative and raise the head halfway, zero out all filtration and make a test strip of the white light to make sure you can get a gradation on paper, just to verify things..
     
  19. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    yellow filter fix?

    a lot of dichroics have a glass filter that is on a pivot point, with a spring that wants to pull it in the direction of being fully on the light path. Opposing this is a cam that holds the filter back, but moves to let more of the filter into the light path as you dial in more filtration. I have seen situations where transporting the enlarger lets a bolt or two loosen, and then something falls out of alignment.


    Once you get past the black paper problem, I would suggest open the enlarger head up, and see what yours is doing. If the yellow cam/filter holder is totaly stuffed, consider the possibility of moving the yelow filter to the cyan dial mechanism. Unless you print cibachrome, which is pretty rare nowadays, the times you need cyan are very very rare.
     
  20. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Not for a dichro head, which is what the OP has. These things suck up a lot of light and are designed for printing color negatives (far more dense than normal B&W negatives( through a filter pack. The lamp needs to be very powerful to overcome these obstacles.

    Of course, print size and negative density have a lot to do with exposure times. I'm running an Omega D4 which uses a 250 watt, 24 volt ELC lamp. With all the filters out of the light path, I can get 4 to 6 second exposure times at f/8 with a 50 mm lens to make an 8x10 print from a 35 mm negative. To keep things somewhat manageable, I need to drastically reduce the amount of light hitting the negative. Fortunately, my lamphouse has a built in attenuator that cuts out about 2 1/2 stops of light. If the enlarger has such a device, use it. If not, then consider placing some neutral density filters in the light path. Rosco theatrical lighting gels work fine for this.
     
  21. fong

    fong Member

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    Well, I managed to fix the yellow filter by taking apart the dichro head and applying a little bit of oil to the "arm" that rubs against the front filter dial that controls the yellow filter inside the head. The joint where the arm connects to the casing was very stiff, which meant that there was no spring-back action as the dial was closed, hence the yellow filter just stayed in its position. I'm hoping the oil doesn't eventually gum up and make things worse (I have a sneaking suspicion it just might), but I really couldn't figure out any other way of getting it looser. My first choice was WD-40, but since I didn't have that, a very light application of vegetable oil seems to have done the trick for now. :D

    With the head newly-repaired, I am planning on heading back into the bathroom, er, darkroom tomorrow...
     
  22. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    WD-40 is not a good lubricant. Neither is vegetable oil. Both will gum up with age.
     
  23. fong

    fong Member

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    Any suggestions? The vegetable oil was more of a temporary thing anyway...
     
  24. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    A very small amount of white grease, removing all except what is in play. However, I ponder if this point was ever meant to be lubricated. There is a good chance that it was simply frozen from disuse, and now that it is free, could be cleaned up and would present no further problem with regular exercise.
     
  25. fong

    fong Member

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    @JBrunner - I'm pretty sure the cam (arm) wasn't meant to be lubricated since the others weren't. However, the cam didn't seem to want to loosen up after repeated back-and-forth motions and there doesn't seem to be an easy way to loosen it otherwise, so I figured a little bit of lubricant should help.
     
  26. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    A little lub never hurt anything. Any house hold lub.
    Apply some fraction of a drop by use of a tooth pick.
    A quart of non-detergent 30 or 40 weight is good
    to have on hand. Dan