Getting deeper blacks

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by ww12345, Sep 3, 2013.

  1. ww12345

    ww12345 Member

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    I have a relatively cheap enlarger (Bogen T35) and am having trouble getting the "pop" that some members here get from their prints. When I print, I can only ever seem to get lowish contrast - everything usually different shades of grey, no dark blacks. I'm exposing the Ilford Pearl paper for about 15-20 sec, and developing for 30-40 sec. Am I close as far as those numbers go? If not, what should I be doing differently?

    Here's some examples:

    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1378218026.021767.jpg

    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1378218087.787096.jpg

    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1378218120.586595.jpg

    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1378218148.453442.jpg
     
  2. M Stat

    M Stat Member

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    Where did you get the 30 to 40 second developing times? Two minutes minimum for print development.
     
  3. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    For starters, you don't mention what contrast grade or filter you are using. Next, I will recommend developing the paper for no less than 90 seconds, I develope for a full two minutes(some fb papers for even longer). You need to adjust exposure times to account for longer development. Longer development times are necessary to avoid the lines where uneven development occur when immersing paper in the chems. and to allow blacks to fully develope.
     
  4. presspass

    presspass Member

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    You didn't say if you are using fiber-based paper or RC. RC should develop fully in a minute if your developer is up to snuff. Fiber, as Rick and M Stat said, takes longer. Are you doing test strips?
     
  5. JLP

    JLP Subscriber

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    30 to 40 seconds as said is not long enough to develop any paper to completion.
    For consistency it is important always to develop your paper until there are no change in density and contrast.
    2 minutes is what most paper manufacturer recomend for full developement.

    If your prints still lack contrast you are either using to soft a paper grade or a filter to soft for your negatives.

    Also for consistency, make sure your developer is not exhausted either by age of by the number of prints you have developed.
     
  6. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    Like it has been said before, you are not developing for long enough. I was always taught that as we pay for the silver content of the paper then develop it for as long or even longer than the manufacturers states to get the best out of it.
    Resin coated is usually 1 minute I never give it less than 1 min 30 secs and fibre base never less than 3 mins. It slows my work down in the darkroom but the black tones I get are dense but still with detail.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 3, 2013
  7. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    This problem has been discussed many times. Papers should be developing to completion. You should watch the print and not the clock. Get a copy of a good book on printing such as Ansel Adams The Print and read it thoroughly.
     
  8. Hatchetman

    Hatchetman Subscriber

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    I'm just starting out myself....can you overdevelop the print like you can with the negative?
     
  9. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    Yes you can overdevelop. Eventually the highlights will start to fog.

    Back to OPs problem, if it turns out the problem is insufficient development, it would also be a good idea to check the developer temperature. We don't know what paper and developer are being used, but typical RC papers will need 1min (or a little more) to develop at 20C.
     
  10. Rudeofus

    Rudeofus Subscriber

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    Yes, you can, but it takes a long, long time. Leaving the paper in your developer tray for a couple of extra minutes is most certainly not going to cause issues.
     
  11. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    With enlarging, expose for highlights and use paper grade to adjust your blacks. But there are always exceptions to that rule of course. But you should develop your paper for at least 1 1/2 minutes.
     
  12. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    I wish you people would stop beating around the bush and just tell the OP he needs to develop for longer ...
     
  13. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    To summarize the stages of development

    Stage I: Latency period, there seems to be nothing going on.
    Stage II: Very rapid change in density in the print.
    Stage III: Development slows significantly. Little change in appearance with time.
    Stage IV: Paper fogs and becomes completely black.

    Development is complete when Stage III is attained.
     
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  15. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    Very very difficult. The main problem with overdeveloping and I mean REAL overdeveloping is you will get a chemical fog which destroys the appearance of the image (Very much the same as with old stale paper out of date)
     
  16. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    I would suggest to the OP that they get a good book on printing such as Ansel Adams The Print and read it thoroughly. There is much more to creating a good print than can be learned off the net.
     
  17. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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  18. Hatchetman

    Hatchetman Subscriber

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    I've read the pamphlets and a book, but nobody ever said you couldn't really overdevelop the print. I was using Ilford Multigrade and developing EXACTLY 60 seconds! Good to know I don't have to hover over the tray waiting for the timer to go off.
     
  19. Simon R Galley

    Simon R Galley Subscriber

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    Dear WWW 12345

    Please PM me your home address and I will send you the ILFORD Multigrade printing manual, it should save you some grief....low cost enlargers should not hinder you getting a good print.

    But always remember the most important thing in high quality printing is the high quality NEGATIVE....

    Simon ILFORD photo / HARMAN technology Limited :
     
  20. ToddB

    ToddB Member

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    Selinium toning is a nice touch aswell.
     
  21. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Echoing Simon's remark the negative is important, get them right and they print easily. Follow the manufacturers recommendations for print development times, they can be as short as 30-45seconds with some film developer combinations.

    Ian
     
  22. MattKing

    MattKing Member

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    If you over-develop a print significantly, you are much more likely to encounter safelight fog if your safelight(s) is/are close to being unsafe.

    For beginners, I suggest developing a print for the exact mid-point of the manufacturers' recommended times. Then, as a comparison, develop two more identically exposed prints from the same negative - one at the minimum manufacturer's recommended time and one at twice the "mid-point" recommended time. Most likely you will learn from the comparison of the three results.

    Note that different papers and developers will result in different recommendations.

    My personal target time is the maximum time recommended by the manufacturers.
     
  23. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Why do some people on APUG suggest to beginners in photographic processing that they read Ansel Adams? This is a bit like suggesting that those who wish to take up woodwork study Thomas Chippendale.
     
  24. erikg

    erikg Member

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    Why not? Those books were written with the beginner in mind. If you want to get better at anything studying the work of those with more skill is a good way to do it. If they have written books or made videos, even better.
     
  25. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    I don't know of any two books; The Negative and The Print that are as comprehensive as the Adams series. Many excellent illustrations to show the beginner what a good negative or print looks like. Should we assume that newbies are complete dunderheads or are incapable of understanding a good textbook? These are books that are worth the investment whereas simpler ones are soon worthless as one becomes more experienced.
     
  26. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Personally I think "The Negative" is one of the best books of it's type and a must read, "The Print" is OK as well but less important as the key is getting good negatives in the first place.

    Ian