good b&w print tutorial?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by synj00, Jan 8, 2007.

  1. synj00

    synj00 Member

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    Hey everyone! I've lucked into a Beseler 23CII condenser enlarger and want to have some fun making prints. I know I have to do a test strip to get the proper exposure time and all that but want something to go over before I just start wasting paper using the brute force method of learning :D Any suggestions?
     
  2. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    any classes available in your area?
     
  3. Gatsby1923

    Gatsby1923 Member

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    Here is how I learned to make an 8x10 print. Set the aperture on your lens to say f8 or f11. Make a test exposure by revealing short bits of paper. I kind of put the closed packet of paper over the piece to expose and move it over every exposure about ¾ inch. I use 2 second exposures, so that I would have 2-4-6-8-10-12 etc. strips. Develop for the recommended time. Fix etc. Then see what strip looks the best and print.

    That is pretty basic, but when starting out, why complicates things?

    Dave M.
     
  4. Gatsby1923

    Gatsby1923 Member

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    Oh yes if you can take a class or workshop in your area it is great. You can get alot of input and ideas from others.
     
  5. mark

    mark Member

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    A community college basic photo class is the best and cheapest way to go. Other wise Gatsby's way will let you get the feel of printing. Most importatly have fun, and learn from your mistakes.
     
  6. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    go to ilford's website, they have some pdf files that will be helpful.

    if you can't take a class , which as others have suggested is really a good way to go , try to find a copy of Larry Bartletts book on black and white printing.
    there are several other good books out there, including several by tim rudman, the ilford stuff can get you started right away.
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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  8. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    Burning up a couple of boxes of cheap RC is cheapest/quickest way to go.
     
  9. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    Here's a link for you to Henry Horenstein's excellent book. http://www.bw-photography.net/

    It, coupled with Bernard Seuss' books were by far the easiest for me to follow when I first started. The nice thing about the Horenstein book is that it is a free download... in its entirety!
     
  10. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    Here is the sheet I give my students to help them make better trest strips than the traditional 2 or 5 second intervals.

    MAKING MORE USEFUL TEST STRIPS

    Most people I know make test strips by using repeated intervals of 3 or 5 seconds. This works fine for up to about 15 seconds. The trouble is this is just getting into the range of desirable printing times which should be from 15 - 30 seconds for most images. If one is using a slower paper or other process which requires exposures beyond 30 or 40 seconds this business of repeated intervals either doesn’t work well, or is downright unwieldy. Additionally too many people use small strips of paper and make even tinier steps which are difficult to see. These are a waste of time as they provide little if any useable information If tests are made as described in the following paragraphs one can learn not only printing time, but also indications of the amount of burning and dodging necessary Therefore in the long run, full image tests are cheaper in terms of paper as well as time.

    When we observe a test strip done in 3 second increments, we can easily see the difference between three seconds and six seconds where the time is doubled. Even the difference between six seconds and nine seconds is readily distinguishable even though the time is only increased by 50%. By the time we get to the difference between 30 and 33 seconds we are only adding 10% more light and it is often very difficult to see the differences. What if we had a method whereby the difference between steps is always equal? Wouldn’t that make it easier to judge differences?

    An alternative to this is to use the time sequence 5, 10, 20, 40, 80... As you can see with this sequence, each time is exactly double its predecessor. Gene Nocon calls it “Printing with ƒ stops” and it really is, although the sequence may not look like it to you. Each step exactly doubles the amount of light of its’ predecessor. This makes it easier for many to interpolate between steps.
    In Gene’s book, “Photographic Printing”, he breaks this sequence down to half and quarter stops of time. As an example the time from 10 to 20 seconds breaks down to 10, 11.9, 14.1, 16.8, 20. (I know, you thought it would be 10, 12.5, 15, 17.5, 20. We must remember that when dealing with ƒ stops we are working with exponential progressions of the power of 2, not arithmetic ones.) Would the sequence 10, 12.5, 15, 17.5, 20 work? Yes, it just wouldn’t be as accurate. If I say to myself I need to add 1/4 stop of light to an area and I use 12.5 seconds instead of 11.9, I have added 19.83% (almost 20%) more light than I told myself was needed. If you ever wonder what I am thinking about when I tell you how much to increase or decrease print exposure, this is the way I am calculating the time.

    This works extremely well not only for those times when exposure gets up into the range of 40 - 60 seconds, or longer, but all printing times. There are fewer steps on the test strip, and each is easily distinguished from it’s neighbors. In addition, it is easier to interpolate between steps and thus arrive at a good first trial exposure time quickly. If your printing time does not fall between 10 and 40 seconds, alter the lens aperture to make it do so.

    Notice that this test strip is of the total image. In addition to providing a good starting exposure time, it can indicate, if the card is moved along the proper axis, appropriate times for burning and dodging.

    Try this method. After you have utilized it for a short time I think you will internalize it to the point of wondering why you didn’t think of it. The same sequence is useful in minutes instead of seconds when making long exposures at night. I use it when experimenting with new developers and times. I believe it will enable you to get a better print with less waste of time and materials. It matters not which sequence of times you use, each is equally effective, but by all means get away from multiple punches of the timer set a t 3 or 5 seconds.
     
  11. Mr_Rocketkiller

    Mr_Rocketkiller Member

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    Jim, what kind of timer would you need if looking at quarter and half stop increases while printing? At first glance, I'd say a digital timer, but could you use this process for a "dial" timer?
     
  12. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    Check Ralph Lambrecht's site http://www.darkroomagic.com/ . Go to "Library" and arrow down to the timer wheel. It looks like it works on Gralab-type timers.

    Otherwise, with other types of analog timers, you can use this chart for f-stop printing times:
    http://www.largeformatphotography.info/articles/f-stopTimingAdv.pdf
     
  13. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    If you are going to use f-stop timing for test strips, the chart found at Ralph Lambrecht's site (darkroommagic.com) works well, with one caution.

    The chart is really set up to aid in doing fine adjustments, burns and dodges, where you are adding to or subtracting from an already determined base exposure. When you are making a test strip, you don't necessarily have a base starting point, and you are wanting to cover a range of possibilities. In addition, test strips work best if you don't start and stop - i.e. it is better to start with the whole strip uncovered, and then progressively cover more of the strip, at the required intervals.

    This involves a bit of a challenge, because the fractional f-stops listed on the darkroommagic site are hard to accurately count with either a metronome or sweep second hand or in your head (I've never been able to get those 1/10 second intervals to come out right myself).

    Also, when you are starting out with the entire strip uncovered, and then progressively covering more over, the segment times add up - if you were using the same interval (e.g. 4 seconds) the progression would be as follows:

    1st = 4 seconds
    2nd = 4 + 4 = 8 seconds
    3rd = 4 + 4 + 4 = 12 seconds
    4th = 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 = 16 seconds

    etc., etc.

    What I like to do is to do my test strips in 1/2 stop intervals, and to use the (almost) standard f-stop progression on my lenses as a guide - i.e. 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, 32, 45, 64. To accomplish this, I set my timer to 64 seconds, turn on the "metronome" function, begin with the strip entirely uncovered, and then progressively cover over segments of the strip as follows:

    1st = 6 seconds (entire strip uncovered)
    2nd = 6 + 2 = 8 seconds (all but 1st segment uncovered)
    3rd = 6 + 2 + 3 = 11 seconds (all but 1st & 2nd segment uncovered)
    4th = 6 + 2 + 3 + 5 = 16 seconds etc.
    5th = 6 + 2 + 3 + 5 + 6 = 22 seconds etc.
    6th = 6 + 2 + 3 + 5 + 6 + 10 = 32 seconds etc.
    7th = 6 + 2 + 3 + 5 + 6 + 10 + 13 = 45 seconds (last 2 segments uncovered)
    8th = 6 + 2 + 3 + 5 + 6 + 10 + 13 + 19 = 64 seconds (last segment only)

    To ease the process, I have a chart with the sequence of intervals by my easel: 6, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 13, 19 - in big, easily read numerals.

    I use 6 seconds rather than 5.6 seconds to start because, well, I can't count 5.6 seconds with the necessary precision, but with the aid of the "metronome" on my timer, I can get pretty close to 6.

    Once you find a segment that is close, you can then generally do a further test with finer divisions within that segment, using the chart (but again calculating the differences between sub-segments).

    Hope this helps.

    Matt

    P.S. If any one else finds the 6, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 13, 19 chart useful, please feel free to make whatever use of it you wish - no copyright concerns here :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 8, 2007
  14. synj00

    synj00 Member

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    Wow guys thanks for all the replies. I'm printing this discussion out because its got some great tips. I did find the darkroommagic site last night and am looking through it. Thanks all!!
     
  15. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    There are _many_ ways to make a test strip, get 10 photographers and you'll get 20 ways.

    Yet Another Test Strip Sequence:

    Start with a sheet/strip of paper in the easel, then expose as follows:

    - 5 seconds
    Cover a strip
    -5 seconds
    - Cover a strip
    -10 seconds
    - Cover a strip
    - 20 seconds

    You will then have exposures at 5, 10, 20, and 40 seconds - pick the two best and make a 5 strip test:

    5 - 10: every second
    10 - 20: every 2 seconds
    20 - 40: every 4 seconds

    That will get you to within a 1/4 of stop with two test strips, and again sort of easy to remember: start with 5, then continue with 5 and double it every time 10, 20 -- if you need to go longer 40, 80 ... You can start with any value you like, repeat it and then keep doubling the times:

    8, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128 ...


    If the right exposure is between 5 and 10 then it's kind of tight to make a set of 1 second exposures without a digital timer. Best to stop the lens down one stop and try 10-20 every 2 seconds.

    If 5 seconds is too dark close the lens down 2 stops, if 40 seconds is too light open the lens 2 stops.

    A normal 5x7 or 8x10 print is somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-32 seconds at f/8. If your numbers are way different from that then something is wrong.

    Once you know that exposures for 5x7 prints are just about always between say 7 and 15 seconds then you can usually start at 7 seconds and cover up strips at 2 second interfvals and get there in one strip.

    If your negatives are really overexposed, they look _black_, you may have to use very long exposure times - don't be suprised if it goes into the minutes.

    Getting an acceptable print isn't hard.

    But there are lots of ways to make it hard, if not impossible, and that's what most discussions on APUG are about.

    And keep good notes: scribble the exposure on the back of the print before you put it in the developer.

    Allways develop prints for the same time: usually 90 seconds for RC paper.
    If your developer gets old you may need to keep the print in it for longer periods of time to get a good print - don't give the print more exposure.
    Same if the developer gets chilly - keep the paper in longer.
     
  16. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    And one here, it's the same principle just with numbers on it.

    http://www.nolindan.com/da/support/grastops.jpg

    You will find these things all over the web and in books.
     
  17. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    Obviously there have been presented several approaches to the f-stop test strip. I do not argue with any of them. If it works for you, use it.

    I do not worry about he fractions of seconds for quarter or half stop increases or decreases in time. My VC-CLS heads do have a built in timer which will account for them very accurately, but the college where I teach does not have this luxury and I revert to using a metronome which is the way I learned in the late 30's.
     
  18. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    Oh, reason for the numbers: if the pointer points to 3.7 and you want a .5 stops more then move the pointer to 4.2.

    With some of the others you count off 1/12 or 1/3 ticks on the timer face. To add a 1/2 stop count off 6 small ticks or 3 larger/large ticks.

    People will go to war over this difference. The one you like depends how your brain is wired and what you are used to.

    Is there one in 1/16ths for us hexadecimal users? To add 0.A stops to 1.E stops...
     
  19. photographs42

    photographs42 Member

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    Synj00,
    I think people should use whatever system works for them, but some of the suggestions here make my head hurt. My advice is to keep it simple.

    Make a contact sheet of your negatives. Don’t worry too much about proper exposure (you can refine that later). The contact sheet will allow you to select images for enlargement and give you a good idea of where the highlights and shadows are. It will also tell you if your exposures are consistent and an idea of contrast.

    First, pick one type of paper, one developer and one print size (I recommend 8x10 RC paper and Dektol). It shouldn’t take very long, regardless of the method you use, to arrive at a typical print time for an 8x10 print. You should adjust your aperture so that a typical exposure is around 20 to 30 seconds. This may sound like a long time when a wider aperture yields a proper exposure in 5 or 10 seconds but when you advance to dodging and burning you will get much better consistency with longer print times.

    Now that you have done that, and you know that your average print takes about 25 seconds, make your test strip cover two or three steps either side of 25 seconds. I would use 2 or 3-second steps so if I decide on 2 second steps I would set the timer for 29 seconds, cover the strip except for about 1” and start the exposure. Every 2 seconds, move the cover sheet to expose another inch of the test strip. After exposing 4 strips, remove the cover entirely and let the exposure continue until the 29 seconds are up. Now you have a test that gives you 5 exposures at 21, 23, 25, 27 and 29 seconds. One of these should be very close. I see no need to use a whole sheet for this BTW. I would use a 4x5 piece and place it in an area that includes both shadow and highlight areas.

    Using the exposure that looks the best, make a full size print without any dodging or burning. Later you can deal with paper grade and the other fancy stuff but when you start out you will be too excited for that and will want to crank out as many different prints as you can. That’s OK. I think the first time I printed; I made prints from about 20 different negatives in a few hours. That was 26 years ago. Now I only print one negative in a print session, if it is a new one, and I usually spend about 6 to 8 hours making four prints. More accurately, I spend about an hour making four prints and the rest of the time studying results, making adjustments and deciding if I have it just right.

    Remember that the technical side of photography is 100% cause and effect. It’s not magic or voodoo or luck. Get the basics down and when you are ready, you can tackle the really fun stuff. Most of all have fun.

    Jerome

    http://www.jeromehawkins.com/