How to avoid making test strips without expensive equipment?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by LF2007, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. LF2007

    LF2007 Member

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    Hi,

    I've been printing on baryta papers for a while now and found that I waste appr. 2-3 sheets of paper before I have found the right exposure/ density for my print....

    Is there a way to do it correctly the first time without making a test strip and wasting paper.

    I know about expensive equipment available (I think from Heiland) but..... is there a cheaper alternative?

    Thanks!
     
  2. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Just about any color analyzer has an exposure mode, they're not much $$. Ilford EM-10(?) and several others like it.
    You still have to calibrate the meter but after that just take a reading.
     
  3. LF2007

    LF2007 Member

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    Thanks! And what about black and white? I only print black and white.
     
  4. anon12345

    anon12345 Member

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  5. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    If you find the way to do that and hit it everytime for a year or so, buy me a Powerball ticket, will ya.

    Unless you spend days upon days upon days hunched over an easel and then trays in order to build up an instinct for how a negative will look as a print after innumerable variables you can't expect to cheat it with a shortcut. There's no way. And even then, you wouldn't get it right EVERY time. You would be really close, but still garner a second so-how-does-this-one-look sheet of paper.

    Sometimes I wish I had more time and could get to exposure on printing paper I was happy with in less time. And then I recognize my own delusion and proceed as usual.
     
  6. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Whenever I cut paper down to make smaller prints there are always scraps left over. I use them as test strips. I've got a whole box full of them. I've got no problem using two or three test strips to make one print. It's a whole lot cheaper and it's faster, too.

    You can also use test strips to help determine exposures for areas you want to dodge/burn. It's a whole lot better than using a whole sheet of paper.

    It might be more economical to cut one or two whole sheets of photo paper up into test strips rather than use whole sheets when you know there is a likelihood you're going to toss it anyway. Why toss out a whole sheet when you can just toss a 2 inch wide piece?
     
  7. dehk

    dehk Member

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    Same here, i use left overs or cut my paper in to tiny pieces and position it/them strategically. I can use one 5x7 to do "test strips" for around 8-10 prints.
     
  8. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Me, personally, I really like to be able to look at each gradation across a full sheet. I might miss something otherwise. I tried to cut strips from one sheet once, but for me it is very disconcerting.
     
  9. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    If you figure out what settings are right on for a normally exposed negative, you can then look at any negative you are about to print and estimate how far away from normally exposed it is (in stops), make adjustments on the enlarger to compensate, and you will be pretty close all the time on your first test strip.
     
  10. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I use this same concept but just look at the projected image on the easel and adjust the aperture till it looks about right, the I use an equivalent exposure. I'm truly surprised how well this works.
     
  11. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    That's my method too.


    Steve.
     
  12. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Sounds reasonable to me! It is how light meters work; by "seeing" intensity of light and comparing it to a reference point...which is what you are doing.

    The only real problem I can see it that the "correct" reference point in the human brain can vary quite a bit depending on many factors, but a light meter always has a fixed reference point. In other words, the thing that looks right on to you may vary from day to day, or even within a session, for a variety of reasons.
     
  13. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The advantage of something like an EM-10 is that it helps you take variables like enlarger height/magnification out of the equation. It can give you an excellent base exposure time - something to "circle" when you do your test strips.

    It can also help if you have something in your negative which has a known reflectance and tone. You can use the EM-10 to match the tone in your current print to a print you have done of that item previously.

    It is really of no more (or less) value than any other meter. If the operator has experience, and good judgement, it can be helpful (and cut down on how many tests you do).

    I like to use my EM-10 to:

    1) set up my enlarger for contact sheets;
    2) assist when I'm printing different size enlargements of the same negative;
    3) assist when I'm printing related negatives from the same shooting session; and
    4) assist when I go from one negative to the next (gives me a more finely tuned starting point for my first test).

    Hope this helps.
     
  14. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    I only make "fine art" prints, or try to... =) If I were working commercially I would probably approach things differently.

    That said, I make a full test SHEET. (I can usually guess close enough now to place things around where they need to be). I find that my idea of what exposure would make the RIGHT print is not always the BEST print. In other words, the test sheets might show me that the "normal" exposure does not make the best expressive print. I look at printing as a process of discovery and in that way find my test sheets invaluable.... Just a thought. All the best. Shawn
     
  15. vedmak

    vedmak Subscriber

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    I would say this if you do contact print of you negatives put a 21 step stouffers wedge with the negs, then you will see right away what exposure is needed
     
  16. traveller

    traveller Member

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    What helped me to spare a lot of test sheets, not all, are the tools from rhdesigns. I use the Zone Master, having bought the Stopclock first, otherwise the Analyzer Pro would have been a option.
     
  17. olleorama

    olleorama Member

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    I use this method too. I'm quite surprised how often I'm right. I find it harder to find the right grade. My solution is to use smaller paper for testing and then just calculate the compensating factor for the higher height. Same kind paper of course, yeah, not same batch, but still pretty surprisingly precise. I made a small program for my old high school calculator since I haven't bothered writing an app for symbian on my phone. :smile: Nerd it is!
     
  18. rmolson

    rmolson Member

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    Fred Pickers idea of the Proper Proof method will tell you the negative’s contrast and approximate density when printed. In other words it will get you in the ball park.
     
  19. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Doesn't matter, The exposure channel is just that, exposure. The EM-10 is much more portable, only weighs an ounce or two. Unicolor, Beseler & several aftermarket brands were around. Gossen had an adapter for the Luna_Pro that did the same thing.
     
  20. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Keep as many variables constant as possible.... film rating/exposure, magnification, film type, developer, paper....and you can get a pretty good first estimate based on experience. This is what I do for lith printing

    I really hated test strips until I started doing strips of only the part in the photo I care most about. That got me in the ball park with less wasted paper and allowed me to experiment with burn areas.
     
  21. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I start with my exposure info from proofing and extrapolate from there with the aid of my EM-10. From there its minor tweaking, usually I can hit my ideal print in two or three small test strips(scraps from resizing paper for desired print sizes). It doesn't hurt that I can visualize the results from all the experience I have (hours spent in the DR x 45 years)and an intimate knowledge of your particular machine
     
  22. makanakijones

    makanakijones Member

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    Nothing is as cheaper and as good than a test strip
     
  23. Aron

    Aron Subscriber

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    I see everyone has his own method.

    I have mine too and I'm surprised no one mentioned this one yet. Whatever paper I use I have two boxes of it around me: one in small size and one in the size of the final print. I put the small paper in the easel and set the enlarger to a height which will put a full-frame image on the paper, including the sprocket holes of my 35 mm negs. I mark the height of the enlarger head (say 222 mm) and expose it for usually 15-20-25-30 seconds in my enlarger.

    After developing I dry quickly this small paper in the microwave, not to worry about drydown.

    After I get the right time for the small paper, I use the equation: (column height for final print/column height for small print)^2 x (exposure time for small print)=(exposure time for final print).

    If I'm consistent with everything (one film, one developer, one EI), I waste only one single small sheat of paper (in the worst case 2) for the final print and this works fine for me.

    But I'm no fine art master printer.