How to approach a roll of un-named paper?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Gavin R, Oct 6, 2012.

  1. Gavin R

    Gavin R Member

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    When purchasing an enlarger some months back I was surprised to receive his whole darkroom when arriving to pick the enlarger up. Along with everything else came a black sack of paper weighing in at apx 35-40KG @ 3ft wide.

    What I need advice on is how would you experienced guys approach such a lucky bag as this? Is there a way of grading it?

    I have no idea what the finish is but his memory rumbled that it might be Kentmere/Ilford, if this helps. He was given it apx 2 years ago but never took up interest in it in favour of boxed papers.

    Any help in how to classify such an unknown roll of paper would be gratefully received even if just 'use it and see'.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 6, 2012
  2. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    Are you sure about the weight? I have a bunch of Ilford rolls, but I don't think they weigh anywhere near the 35-40KG you mention, even in their cardboard boxes. . I'm also not sure of the width. Mine is 42 inches wide. I know other companies have/had roll paper in different widths (and maybe Ilford did, too). Maybe the width of yours would be a good clue to it's manufacturer, if you can find out which companies offered 3 ft. widths.
    To figure out what it is, you can cut a piece off, and examine it. You should be able to determine if it's fiber or RC, and the surface. On other small pieces, in the darkroom, you can determine if it's fixed grade, or VC.
     
  3. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Just use it and see! :smile:

    Seriously, cut a bunch of 8x10's from it and see what it does. Basically what Eddie said...check out the print to see if it is RC of FB (actually that is usually eay without making a print) and what surface it has. Make a decent print, throw on a VC filter and make another print to see if it is VC paper.
     
  4. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    First time you open it, no safelight, just black. Cut off a corner, then close it back up. Now you can examine the piece and see if it is rc or fiber paper, display film or whatever it is.
     
  5. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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    I would be careful with the safelight. Not all papers can stand green or orange safelight. Deep red might be the safest in general. As Bob said, cut the first pieces out in total darkness. Then I would do a safelight test with one of the pieces to be sure. Expose one of the pieces to your safelight at typical working distance for 10-15 minutes, shade it partly with cardboard or something else. Then develop. If your safelight is safe, then the whole sheet should look the same, otherwise the edges of the cardboard will be visible.
     
  6. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    To all of the above, I would add: I like to mix obscure film developers, and I always begin by taking two small snips of paper and exposing one completely and the other not at all. I then develop them to see if they are giving me a a pure white and a decent black. In your case I would use a trusted developer. Fog on the white piece may mean the paper is very old or has been subjected to poor storage conditions. I think diving in and making a print of a negative you have successfully printed before would then give you a good AB comparison. Then as Vaughn suggests, throw a contrast filter in there or better yet, start with a filter and then change the filter to see if the contrast changes. Also, as others mention, if you do get fog, do a safelight check.
     
  7. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    PS, safelight tests like Slixtiesix suggest work even better if the paper is exposed first for one second of light (stopped down) under the enlarger. That initial exposure will increase the papers sensitivity the way exposure to a negative does. Then put a coin or something on the paper and follow Slixtiesix's directions.
     
  8. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    One further caution about safelights.

    It would seem prudent to check first that it isn't colour paper.
     
  9. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    That's why I said to clip a corner and examine in room light, colour papers have a nice pinky/purplish tone , b&w ones are usually white or close to it.
     
  10. Gavin R

    Gavin R Member

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    Thank you for the replies, invaluable information indeed.

    First off it was the wrong bag. I thought it seemed heavier than what I remember and it turned out to be some rubber membrane for roof gardens. My mistake.

    The 'actual' bag is 12 inches wide and apx 4KG. I'll take on board your advice and get it sampled during this week. Oh and its definitely B&W paper.

    Thank you all. I'll update when I get there.
     
  11. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    Hmmm, a rubber membrane for roof gardens could perhaps also line a darkroom sink or a developing trough. If it is made of a neutral material you might find a use for it yet!
     
  12. Gavin R

    Gavin R Member

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    Thanks Martin. I've just completed the darkroom with an epoxy coated ply sink. Enlarger went in yesterday and hence why I want to attack this paper.

    Being my first darkroom there will no doubt be more silly questions and mistakes, but hopefully some worthy images along the way.
     

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  13. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    Oh that's a neat and tidy arrangement. In the Equipment > Darkroom sub-forum there is a thread for pictures of darkrooms, these photos would go well in there. And congratulations on the De Vere, great machines.
     
  14. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    Tread carefully in terms of making assumpitions about rolls of b&w paper. I see rolls, and presume a high volume photolab market.

    I have a 12" roll of b&w paper that is designed to be exposed in a (once typical) high volume photo finisher printer machine, and then procesed in RA-4 colour print chemistry.

    It expects an orange mask as part of the negative when making the exposure to give reasonable contrast.
    It is panchromatic, and must be handled in absolute darkness.
    It can have it's contrast range adjusted by varying the degree of red filitration in the dichroic filter pack.
    Under white lights a snip test would show that is is slightly purple prior to processing.
    As it ages (now long past expiry) it gives a magenta tinted slightly fogged b&w RC print.

    I use it to catch up on b&w contact sheet when I already have ra-4 chemistry going to process my c-41 to RA-4 colour paper contact sheets.
     
  15. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    I received a similar roll of Ilford paper a few years back when I purchased an enlarger. (It was quite heavy, but not quite 35kg.) In my case it was color negative paper. I didn't even know Ilford branded color negative paper existed, but apparently it did on an industrial scale. The first thing to do is to determine if the paper is color or black and white. Your best first guess will be whether the previous owner did mostly color or black and white work. If color, the next question is what kind. In total darkness, snip off a piece of the paper; then look at it under white light. Color negative paper has a cyan filter; Cibachrome is dark gray; white base could be either black and white or some other sort of color reversal stock.