Grey prints

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Kate Mocak, May 11, 2004.

  1. Kate Mocak

    Kate Mocak Member

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    Last Saturday I made a BIG mistake: I made some test strips, brought them to the full light, liked them, and made several (ahhh, 6!!) prints(20x30 cm). To my great dissappointment all of them lacked any contrast, looked grey and "muddy". No life, no brilliance.

    Then I printed the same image on Fomaspeed RC normal contrast paper and suddenly the contrast was there and the picture was very lively.

    I am trying to analyze what happened. The "inputs" are:

    Safelight - the same as always (brownish-red)
    Paper - Ilford MG Xpress
    Filter - Ilford, #3
    Developer - Ilford MG, freshly mixed
    Stop-bath - water with a splash of vinegar
    Fixer - Ilford Rapid Fixer, freshly mixed
    Washing - tap water

    Based on the different results from two different brands of paper I might assume that it was the paper. But I can't believe that Ilford would sell such a bad batch and I was so unlucky to get it.

    Is there anything else in the setup which might've caused the problem?

    Thanks for your opinions.
    Kate
     
  2. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    Did you do your test strips and the final prints on the same paper?
     
  3. Kate Mocak

    Kate Mocak Member

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    Yes, I did. And I waited until they were dry to see the real tonality.
     
  4. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    Strange the test strips should be fine, but the rest of the paper not be. How big were the test strips that you made? Did they cover a signigant portion of the scene you were printing?
     
  5. Kate Mocak

    Kate Mocak Member

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    No, I tested only the most significant parts of the picture (faces). I know that I misevaluated the test strips, and I could've saved a lot of paper if I didn't.

    But it doesn't answer my question about what could've been wrong with the paper. Because I expect that if I use filter #3 with an MG paper, I should get a normal contrast. The negative had a normal contrast, so did the final print on a different brand paper.

    ??
     
  6. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    Try making bigger test strips. Ones that only show a particular area and not the range of tones with a larger test strip will not give you a good evaluation. try taking a 8x10 sheet of paper and cutting it into 4ths the ong way. 2x10 Put those at an angle across the scene you are printing. This will give you more of an indication of what is happening. better to burn a sheet of 8x10 than to waste printing 6 that won't be correct.
     
  7. dr bob

    dr bob Member

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    Bravo Aggie! And I thought I was the only person in the world who used quarter sheets for initial enlarger tests. The difference between the "look" of a small section of a print versus the whole thing can be quite deceptive, definitely.
     
  8. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    Also, check the 1st full print before making extras as you might want to make changes (burning, dodging) since your test strip only covers part of the image. If you're judgeing your exposure based on the test strip increments, the final exposure can be different from the multiple 'shots' of light the test strip receives. I never used to see this with my Durst enlarger but I've been using a LPL thats powered by a transformer and I definetly have this effect. I do an extra (small section) test print at a time slightly less than the test print indicates to double check the exposure. Sometimes I'll do this on a full sheet of paper to check for dodging and burning requirements.

    If you've still got some of the Ilford left, you could process some without exposure and preferably in the dark to make sure it's not off.
     
  9. mwtroxell

    mwtroxell Member

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    I make a "test strip" using a 8x10 sheet of paper. The first strip is 2-3 seconds less than I think the exposure should be, the second is what I expect the correct exposure to be based on previous test and past experience, and the third is 2-3 second more than I expect the correct exposure to be. This way I see the whole 8x10 print, I see the correct exposure (hopefully) and I see what areas of the print would look like at more and less time than what I think the correct exposure would be. I've never been able to evaluate a full print from a small section (test strip).
     
  10. roy

    roy Subscriber

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    I use a Stopclock timer to give me a base exposure and nine others and make a work print using the exposure I judge most appropriate. You can always do this on a smaller piece of paper and re-size to get the print size you need.
     
  11. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council

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    What film are you using?

    I ask because there has been some discussion on the Pure Silver list as to TMAX films and Ilford papers. There are some who feel the two do not work well together. They site:

    http://www.kodak.com/cluster/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/o3/O3wp4.jhtml

    If you are using TMax film perhaps trying them on Kodaks Polymax II RC paper will give you what you expect.

    I have been using (New) Pro TMax Y for some hand held stuff and printing on MG IV, Warmtone etc. and the images are just awful. Next week I am going to try a small batch of Kodak Polymax and see if I think there is a difference.
     
  12. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council

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  13. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

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    Try an orange/red safelight. Best for most b&W papers.
     
  14. Kate Mocak

    Kate Mocak Member

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    Bruce,

    it was Kodak T-Max Y!!!

    It never crossed my mind their might be a problem with the combination of a certain film and paper. Thanks a lot!

    Unfortunately, in the meantime I found out that I had the same problem with another photo, which was made (as I've just checked) on HP5+. I assume Ilford film to Ilford paper should not cause problems. I used the same batch of paper as before, though.

    I'm coming to the conclusion that, coincidentally, I had more than one problem:
    1. wrong combination of TMY film with Ilford paper
    2. wrong batch of paper (none of the photos came out right when printed on the paper from this specific box)
    3. my negligence to make larger test strips to avoid so much waste :sad:

    Thanks for your advice.
    Best regards, K.