Inspection light and dark prints

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by sterioma, Sep 16, 2007.

  1. sterioma

    sterioma Member

    Messages:
    259
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Italy
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Hi everyone,

    I need some tip for the following problem I am incurring into: my "darkroom" is set up in our smaller bathroom (luckily we have 2), and the setup is such that once I am ready to print, I have no way to open the bathroom door more than a few cm (so I am basically stuck in there for the whole session).

    Beside one safelight, I have only another one light which is on top of the mirror, and unfortunately it is a pretty bright light. (There's another light on the ceiling, but I have no way to operate it from inside the bathroom)

    I only print RC paper for now (just learning....), and I do usually wait for the print to be reasonably dry before evaluating it. I then leave my final prints to completely dry in my kitchen and go to sleep. More often than not, the prints I found in the morning are too dark, and lacking the contrast that I saw back in the darkroom. I guess my problem is related to the inspection light that is too bright.

    Any hints? How do you people evaluate your prints in the darkroom? Do I have to guess how the print would look like under "normal" viewing conditions, or there are some other tricks I could use?

    Thanks,
    Stefano
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

    Messages:
    4,677
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Location:
    Italia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Partly you end up with a feel for dry down and how prints will look when dry.

    You could try a small hair dryer. Works wonders with colour prints and should work fine with RC. Doesn't need to be anything fancy. Wipe the print to get most of the water off then use the blow dryer.

    Supposedly Adams used a toaster oven -) I've heard of microwaves being used. But a hair dryer is likely the simplest and safest.
     
  3. ath

    ath Member

    Messages:
    889
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    35mm
    It's called "dry down effect". Prints get darker, when they dry.
    To see the effect, take a dry print and soak one half in water. You will be surprised about the difference.
    And wet prints are always more sparkling.
     
  4. sterioma

    sterioma Member

    Messages:
    259
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Italy
    Shooter:
    35mm
    So you guys think that the dry-down effect is more relevant than the difference of lighting between the rooms?

    This is somewhat surprising, since I do wait for the prints to at least "look" dry on the surface before judging the detail in the highlights and shadow area.
     
  5. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,606
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2004
    Location:
    DFW, Texas
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well, not me. I don't think "dry-down" is significant with RC papers. It is with FB. I think your lighting is the issue here, just as you suspect.
     
  6. mattk

    mattk Subscriber

    Messages:
    265
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2006
    Location:
    Minnesota, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    It sounds like you have a light fixture in the room controlled by a switch outside the bathoom. Not sure if the fixture would allow it but you can buy screw-in pullstring operated light sockets. Spin it in, turn on the switch then use the cord in your darkroom for when you need it-works for me.
     
  7. ath

    ath Member

    Messages:
    889
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Well, I think it is significant with RC, at least with some. Just do the test I described above and see yourself.
    Actually I think it is a matter of emulsion and coating and not of the paper base.
     
  8. kevcurry67

    kevcurry67 Member

    Messages:
    13
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2007
    Location:
    Scotland
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    The light you use to evaluate your prints in the darkroom is very significant. eg If the light used for print evaluation is brighter than the 'intended' display light for the print then the inevitable end product will be a lackluster image. The dry down effect is far more significant with FB paper than with RC as already mentioned. Print 2 identical RC prints leave one in the fixer and take a hair dryer to the other.....compare the 2....theres not much in it! Try changing the light bulb you use to look at your prints to a 100watt or even a 60watt Opel tungsten light bulb and have it no closer than 2meters from the print! This is the advice given by Chris Woodhouse in the book 'Way Beyond Monochrome' and it works very well.

    Al the best
    Kev
     
  9. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    4,196
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Location:
    North Coast,
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Try using a light meter or your cameras meter on a white sheet of paper in 'normal' room lighting where you look at your finished prints, then try to get the same meter reading from the paper in your bathroom. You could change to a lower watt bulb, bounce the light off the ceiling, or partially block the bulb you have.

    Murray
     
  10. fschifano

    fschifano Member

    Messages:
    3,216
    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    Location:
    Valley Strea
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There really isn't a question about whether the ambient light or dry down effect are contributing factors. Both are. Any paper, fiber based or resin coated, will darken when dry. Some more than others, but all do. I've used resin coated papers that exhibit almost no dry down effect, and others that exhibit a darkening representing around 1/3 stop extra density. The same is true for fiber based papers. Comparisons between wet and dry identical prints are in order to determine how the paper behaves. The ambient light is also a contributing factor, and the previous poster who recommend you duplicate as closely as possible, the conditions under which your prints are shown are correct.
     
  11. Maris

    Maris Member

    Messages:
    891
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2006
    Location:
    Noosa, Australia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I only use fibre based paper and dry-down needs to be allowed for. What works for me is a really dim inspection light, 25 watt pearl, about 1.5 metres from the fixer tray. If the tones look good in the semi-dark they will still be ok after dry-down.

    Other lamps were tried. A 40 watt pearl was too bright and a 15 watt clear was too dim. Actually, I was surprised how effectively dry-down could be calibrated out of the system by adjusting the inspection light.

    The "dry-down" light is too dim for anything except judging tones. I also have a 75 watt light 0.5 metres from the tray to check for grain focus, white specks in skies, accurate borders, and all the other subtle stuff that ends up looking bad later.