First time printing

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by FingerLakesMark, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. FingerLakesMark

    FingerLakesMark Member

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    Hi,
    I just recently acquired a free darkroom (really old stuff, but everything seems functional). I have several developing tanks & reels, a couple of DeJur enlargers, trays, tongs, etc. Pretty much everything except a safelight. I purchased a Pentax ME off of ebay for $34 shipped, shot a couple roles of TMax 100, purchased the chemicals and developed the first role. It didn't come out that great as I had a hard time with the film wrinkling up when loading on the SS reel. I found with the second reel I developed that I was pulling the film onto the reel and I believe the trick is to feed it on without any pressure in either direction. The second reel came out great.

    Then last night I proceeded to print proof sheets of the negatives, the came out great.
    Then I made a test strip and then the print I've attached. It's quite muddy. Does anyone have any advice?

    Proof sheet:

    proof.jpg

    Print:
    Family_1-26-2013.jpg

    Perhaps it's my safelight (I used the red led on one of those headlamps that you can buy at Walmart).

    I'm using Kodak chemicals i.e. D76 & Dektol.

    Thanks for the help.

    Regards,
    Mark
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 27, 2013
  2. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Evening, Mark,

    The lighting under which the exposures were made probably contributes a lot to the somewhat flat appearance of the print. It's hard to comment based on the limited information you have given. What kind of paper are you using? If it's a variable-contrast paper, did you use a printing filter? If so, what grade? Are you sure that the print was processed for the recommended length of time? Are you sure that the developer is the right kind and mixed properly? I don't see any gross errors, but I'm sure that an experienced printer could get a lot more from your negative. The first step toward a more satisfying print would be to print with higher contrast, either with a higher-grade paper or with a higher-grade filter, probably at least a #3 (Kodak) or #3 ½.

    Konical

    In the future, if you continue down the film route, you'll soon learn to process film for a little more or a little less time depending on the contrast of the scene; that will help you to achieve prints that will be more satisfying.

    Konical
     
  3. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    If this was your very first time, congratulations You did pretty well.

    Let me try to help you out as much as I can with the information available. Please look closely at your contact sheet. Notice, the rebate area (an area OUTSIDE of your images) look gray and the difference of shade between that area and your images aren't all that great? That indicates you have a thin negative. When you have a well exposed and well developed negative, on your contact sheet, your rebate should look black or nearly black with only holes and edges visible and images well exposed.

    What may have happened are two folds. You may have UNDER exposed your film. You may also have UNDER DEVELOPED your negative. You may even have done both. That will result in thin negative and low contrast. Properly exposing your film will help with density (darkness) and development will help with contrast.

    What to do....

    1) if you have another camera, try checking if your camera is metering correctly.
    2) make sure your iso dial is set correctlyl
    3) watch for your development time and temperature.

    I don't think your problem is the safe light as white part is pretty nice and white - although it is always a challenge to evaluate someone's work through scanned images.
     
  4. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    Your results look pretty good. As mentioned above you need a little more contrast so the blacks print black and the whites stay white. You can get this with a harder filter if you are using variable contrast VC paper, or a harder grade of paper. You can also develop your film for a bit longer so it has more contrast. If when the film base is printing black you don't see much detail in the shadow areas you should add exposure by cutting the speed of the film down on the camera or meter. For example try 200 instead of 400 for Tri-X. You are very close, and i bet with a few changes you can get good prints from that roll.
     
  5. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Oh, yeah... also....

    When you put your RC paper in print developer, images start to appear almost immediately. Keep it in there for at least a minute, may be a little more. Pulling early will result in less density and bring about potential difficulty with consistency. I usually develop RC paper for about a minute to a minute and half.

    Good job.
     
  6. FingerLakesMark

    FingerLakesMark Member

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    Thanks for all the quick replies!

    Yeah, you could say this was my first time. I did take a black & white processing class in high school, but that was 30 years ago.:blink:

    I used Ilford Multigrade IV RC paper. It's what my local camera shop had.
    The film was developed in D76. I made sure it was pretty close to 68 deg. and developed for pretty close to 10 min.
    The paper was developed for 1 minute in Dektol. 30 seconds facing down and then flipped over for 30 seconds. Actually I think I flipped the paper back and forth a couple times after the initial 30 seconds.
    I followed the Kodak Black and White film and paper developing instructions (as close as I could).

    The rebate area on the proof looks black to me except where I had my fingers over the print where I was holding the glass down over the negatives.

    No contrast filter was used. I can try that next time.

    So, perhaps I can try again with a contrast filter and develop the print longer - for two minutes?

    Regards,
    Mark
     
  7. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Hi FingerLakesMark,

    I will say red is the wrong safelight color, you are better off working without a safelight.

    I know you'll lose the fun and magic of watching the print develop.

    But you will have the magic of a better finished print.
     
  8. Simon R Galley

    Simon R Galley Subscriber

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    PM your home address and I will send you a copy of the MULTIGRADE printing manual, lots of good tips. Also on the ILFORDPhoto website you will find thousands of pages that can help re darkrooms, making your first print, developing your first film. etc etc

    Good luck,

    Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited
     
  9. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    how so?
     
  10. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    I believe a red safelight should be fine for Ilford Multigrade papers.

    That said, I'm not sure if your red LED headlamp is "safe." Do a quick search on safelight tests and do get a proper safelight for your darkroom soon.

    The advice you have received above is all right on. The best way to a good print is a properly exposed and developed negative, so spend a bit of time reading and testing to optimize your negative quality. Do take Simon Galley up on his offer of the Multigrade manual.

    Figure out about print contrast controls (filters and paper grades) and learn to use them to control contrast at the printing stage.

    And welcome (again) to the wonderful world of black-and-white.

    Best,

    Doremus


    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  11. hgernhardt

    hgernhardt Member

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    Lucky dog. :smile: Welcome back to the world of film photography!

    As stated in other replies, go for a harder contrast. If you don't have a set of VC filters, you should get a set soon. For what it's worth, my VC filtration solution is a set of Beseler color correcting filters I got off eBay some time ago. More magenta means more contrast (harder/higher grade), white means about a 2 to 2½ grade depending on paper (way too flat for my tastes), and more yellow means less contrast (softer/lower grade). The high-contrast emulsion is blue-sensitive, and the low-contrast emulsion is green-sensitive.

    Spend a few bucks on a Delta 1 Brightlab or similar. I've heard it said in other locations here that a red LED doesn't have spectral purity and requires extra filtration to remove the blue/green components. I use the Delta 1 Brightlab 11w unit, bare, pointing into the upper corner of a white-painted room. I get good overall illumination and don't seem to have fogging issues with Fomaspeed Variant 311 paper. I once purchased an OC filtered safelight and was underwhelmed with its illuminating power.

    Good place to start. When I returned to film, I went with Ilford chemistry because I could get it in liquid form and it seemed more economical. Prior to that, I had always printed with Dektol. I used Microdol-X for my first foray into film developing back in my early teen years, but find D76 to be a good all-around film developer.
     
  12. FingerLakesMark

    FingerLakesMark Member

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    Here's an update on my progress:

    Finewoods_02-2013-3.jpg

    JJ_02-2013.jpg

    SMF_02-2013-2.jpg

    The last one could have used more exposure, but actually I like the effect.
    Let me know if you have any comments on these.
    Thanks,
    Mark
     
  13. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Marked improvements! First and second are great.

    Third, I'd increase the exposure time 75 to 100%. In other words, double your exposure time. If you look your print closely, you might notice her forehead is pure white.... as white as the print's border. If you like the "look", you might decrease the contrast by using lower number filters but increase the exposure time.
     
  14. FingerLakesMark

    FingerLakesMark Member

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    Thanks,

    By the way, my improvements were to purchase a Yankee Darkroom Safelight: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/63613-REG/Yankee_YASL3_Darkroom_Safelight.html
    and I used a 3.5 contrast filter.
    With the third one I thought I would wing it and not do a test strip before printing it - not thinking that I had raised the enlarger which would decrease the light hitting the paper. I'll get it right next time...
    Do you do a test strip before printing each new negative?
     
  15. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    No.

    test strips are undoubtedly the best way of determining all the variables to get a good print. I started with test strips, but found that because you need test strips for both contrast and exposure time, it was a long process, and I was impatient.

    There is another way, and that is to invest in an RH designs analyser pro. OK, this is not an insignificant amount of money, and you might want to persevere with test strips for now. However, once you get the hang of the analyser, you can get the print very close to right first time every time. I waste very little paper, and for me the best thing is I can have a darkroom session with a roll of negs and print out a selection quite quickly.

    I am only a year or so ahead of you - I made my first print last year. It's surprising how soon you get a "feel" for the equipment you have, and then you can start getting consistent results. I follow the Ilford guides exactly and find they work.

    I am nowhere near an expert, and the people on here with much more experience will give advice to refine the process, but for me, I needed to get to the point where I could reliably shoot film and get it to useable images without too much hassle. Refinement to perfection will come in time!!

    Other tips? I had black specks on my negs that turned out to be crap in the water - a cartridge filter (5 micron designed for ponds) sorted that. Squeezee wash bottle from ebay with fotoflo mix is a great way of rinsing down the hanging negs. I find that working (ilford) print developer lasts a good week if put back in a bottle and sealed - certainly while you are learning. (despite guidance saying it should be ditched at the end of each session)
     
  16. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    Another contrast robber is a dirty/foggy enlarger lens. Take the lens out and clean the front and back with a lens tissue (or Kimwipe or Q-Tip) and Windex. Shine a light through the back with a penlight while looking askance through the lens to check the inside surfaces for fogging.

    If your enlarger uses condensers these should also get a good cleaning.

    Making a test-strip before each print can be a good idea when you are just starting out. You can also look at the contact sheet - shots that look the same on the contact sheet will have the same exposure in the enlarger. Get a fine-point sharpie marker and before putting the paper in the easel write the exposure you are using on the back of each print.

    First figure out how to get good prints the old fashioned way. Then worry about enlarging meters. The problem with meters and such is that they will give you what you ask for - and until you know just what to ask for they won't do you much good.

    Enlarging meters aren't like camera exposure meters where you can just aim it in the general direction and it mostly-kinda works. Enlarging meters measure tiny spots of the image and you need to know the print tone you want for that tiny spot.

    There is a sticky thread at the start of the enlarging forum on figuring out how much to change print exposure as you move the enlarger head up and down. There is a ruler on the Darkroom Automation web site that helps figure out the exposure change: http://www.darkroomautomation.com/support/stopsruler.pdf and http://www.darkroomautomation.com/support/stopstableforruler.pdf.

    The ruler method assumes some familiarity with 'f-stop printing'. A primer can be found at http://www.waybeyondmonochrome.com/WBM2/TOC_files/TimingExposureEd2.pdf
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 11, 2013
  17. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Not really. Usually, if I'm printing on the same paper and doing multiple negatives, I do a test print for the first print of the day. Then, sort of remember, by looking at what it is projecting on paper, "well.... if it prints like this when it looks like THIS during this exposure..... something like THIS should be right..." and go for it. It usually gets pretty close. It takes a while to get this kind of "feel" for printing but after a while, you'll tend to develop this kind of sense.

    I also know, if my first print looks like THIS, how much of change is needed to get close to what I want. Again, experience tells me this.

    It's the fine tuning after getting it to the ballpark that takes lots of time and paper.
     
  18. LJSLATER

    LJSLATER Member

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    This is the single best piece of advice I can think of when it comes to printing. I starting printing again a couple of weeks ago, after a three-year absence. I waited so long because my last printing attempts were so dismal.

    I used to eyeball the print in the developer, but you just can't. I put my prints in the developer emulsion-side down and use a timer.

    Also, I used to put my enlarger on the bathroom counter in front of a mirror on the wall, but I believe this affected my prints. I now place my enlarger on a little table far away from the bathroom mirror. It is less sturdy than the counter but my prints do look better.
     
  19. FingerLakesMark

    FingerLakesMark Member

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    Here's an update:
    Mommy-Christopher_02-2013gp.jpg

    Pentax ME
    Kodak T-Max 100 film developed in D76
    Ilford MGIV RC Paper developed in Dektol
    Polymax 4 filter
    f8 16sec
     
  20. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    If you are working on the same roll of film and you have a contact sheet for reference, once you have printed one image , you should be able to make an educated guess on the next images contrast and density by just looking at the differences on the contact sheet.
    Usually, and in your sample contact case the contrast filter should be the same and you just need to change your timer setting. I always start with a 10 - 15 second exposure, this way you can start mentally storing density changes based on the 10 seconds in % . After time you will be saying to yourself.. Damm that image (on the contact sheet) looks 20% darker than the one I just printed , and you will immediately set your timer 20% less on you next test and without changing contrast you should be very close.

    Also by looking at your contact sheet you will be able to judge areas that need dodging and burning, remember that once enlarged the effect will be a little bit more pronounced than the contact shows.


     
  21. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Many people new to printing tend to pull their prints from the developer too soon. Make sure that you follow the developer recommendation for the correct time. Kodak recommends 2 to 3 minutes @ 68F for their developers. Pulling a print will result in lower contrast and lack of detail. Print development is said to go to completion which means to keep prints in the developer until you observe that there is little change in the print with time.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 4, 2013
  22. Missi

    Missi Member

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    thanks, good tip. I'll keep that in mind.
     
  23. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Bill, am I miss reading your post? Red safelighting is fine. Are you suggesting he does this in total darkness?