Light for contact printing

Discussion in 'Contact Printing' started by jasonhall, Apr 26, 2009.

  1. jasonhall

    jasonhall Member

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    Hello all,

    I started shooting film last summer, first 35mm, quickly decided I needed/wanted 120. Got a Mamiya RB67 and C330. Love those big negatives and of course I got into developing it myself right off the bat. Start to get good results with all that and even doing well with scanning on a Epson V700.

    Enjoying those nice 6x7 negs so much has made me think how awsome large format must be. So that is where I am heading now....but rather slowly since I lost my job after 11 years back in January. Before I get there I am intend to get a dark room going (I have the space set aside in my house) and start to print enlargments and such. Once again...a slow process these days.

    For now I figure it would be good to start doing some contact printing since I have absolutely no experence with tray developing or with printing papers of any kind.

    Thinking about it the only real thing I am lacking (equipment wise, supplies is a different matter) is a suitable, highly controlable, and very repeatable light source. Of course no money to buy such a thing.

    So I got to thinking....I have two canon 580EX flashes and softboxes with baffles (can add more diffusion as needed). The 580EX is adjustable to 1/3rd of a stop down to 1/128 power. Of course I can do other things, such as change distance and add density gels to contol exposure to 1/10th of a stop. That is as close as my Sekonic 558r meter can get.

    Seems to me I should be able to set the softbox over the table top and use the meter to get desired exposure and check for eveness of light over the area being printed. Place the neg and print paper under the softbox, expose,and develop.

    It seemed so simple that I was afraid it must not be or I would see more folks who were doing the same.

    Then I figured that one issue may be with the softbox its self. I thought it may make the print soft as you would normally use a harder direct light and not this soft light that more or less shallows every thing

    Anyway, I KNOW its not the "right" way and it is not how I plan to do this in the long run. But I thought that if it worked well, I could use it even to start contact printing LF until I can get an enlarger and proper light source with timer.


    Anyone have any input?

    Thanks to all
     
  2. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    contacts

    sorry but I think you are way over the top here....I originally started out printing contacts with a 15 watt bulb held on a piece of wire that I was able to raise and lower with a pulley...now I use the enlarger or for azo a 200 watt bulb....pretty simple no???
    Best of luck, Peter
     
  3. jasonhall

    jasonhall Member

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    Thanks Peter,

    I intend to use an enlarger when I can afford to get one. I was just thinking of light source that I could precisely control, and in this case, already have on hand. The flash came to mind but then I added the idea of the softbox to even out the light over the area of the print. While I recon it does sound a bit more complicated than a 15watt bulb hanging on a wire, in my mind it is not, I just figure the softbox would improve the quality of the light.

    Jason
     
  4. richard ide

    richard ide Member

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    You really should go for the simplest setup. I would add to the 15 watt bulb, a $6 light dimmer from Home Despot. A timer would also be a good idea but if you adjust lamp distance/light output to give you an exposure of 10 seconds or so, you could use a watch. As long as your light is a foot or so from your negative (or more) you will have no issues with uneven light.
     
  5. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

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    A light bulb on a wire over the printing frame will do it. Use a bright bulb if you are using silver chloride paper, a very low wattage one if you are using enlarging paper. But why anyone would want to use enlarging paper to make contact prints if they could use silver chloride paper is beyond me.

    Michael A. Smith
     
  6. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Michael;

    I agree to a point, but many of today's enlarging papers are chloride papers with high finish levels to achieve enlarging speed. They also contain sensitizing dyes.

    PE
     
  7. keeds

    keeds Member

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    Michael, don't start that all again.... ;-) Many reasons to use enlarging paper for contact printing. Variable Contrast for a start. Very easy to use Multi Grade filters on an enlarger source or light bulb in fitting to take advantage of MG papers. Lith for another. Don't know if you paper Liths. Now there's an experiment to try. Anyone know any reason why it shouldn't Lith?
     
  8. Guillaume Zuili

    Guillaume Zuili Subscriber

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    Keeds ! This is on my to do list. :smile:
    And if it doesn't work I will bleach and redevelop in lith.
    :smile: :smile: :smile:
     
  9. Guillaume Zuili

    Guillaume Zuili Subscriber

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    Jason, you could find on ebay some old proof printer. They have 12 bulbs with a switch for each of them to dodge or burn.
    Very cheap, nice looking and fun.
     
  10. keeds

    keeds Member

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    Guillaume, looking forward to seeing your results...
     
  11. jasonhall

    jasonhall Member

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    THANKS to ALL,

    Leave it to me to make things harder than they need to be. Ok, so simple light buld, dimmer, and a switch. I bet I have all of that hanging around the house, well, maybe not the frame. I will certainly be on the look out for some used gear Guillaume....when my personal economy recovers. :D

    Now the hard part, learning about papers. Mostly hard because I can not just buy a bunch and play around with it. I think I should check with the one and only truely film store around to see if they have some old stock they would like to get rid of....cheap. Oddly enough, they are the only film store around, but they have only been open for a little over a year. Started by a couple of college students who wanted to keep film alive in the area.

    Jason
     
  12. CBG

    CBG Member

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    Any chance you could offer up the name of the analog based photo store? Do they have a web site? I suspect there might be a couple of folks on this forum interested in supporting such an enterprise.

    And, on the subject of which papers to start with, just start with one. Maybe something very mainstream like an Ilford paper.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 27, 2009
  13. jgjbowen

    jgjbowen Member

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    Keeds,

    We silver chloride paper users vary the contrast with a water bath. No advantage to MG papers there.....unless you need a grade 5!

    Silver chloride papers have a very long shelf life.....advantage silver chloride

    The OP is using a 6x7 negative, so a 100 sheet box will do for what, something like 1000 prints. Today's MG papers will likely go bad before they are used up. Just something to consider.

    I've never tried lith, so I can't answer your question there.

    Best,
     
  14. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Many MG papers out there are chlorides and keep well!

    PE
     
  15. jgjbowen

    jgjbowen Member

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    PE,

    I don't want to come across as a wise ass, but can you name 3 such papers for me. I did a google search for "chloride photo enlarging paper" and came up with nada in terms of stuff I could actually purchase. I have a box of 5x7 Polymax II RC in my darkroom dated 5/06 that was badly fogged in early '08. The Polymax Fine Art purchased about the same time was still useable last I attempted (about a year ago).

    Thanks!
     
  16. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Well, John, to start with I suspect that Ilford MGIV is almost a pure chloride, but the Kentmere near equivalent was a Bromide. Kodak's now extinct Polycontrast IV was almost a pure chloride and of course the famous Kodak Endura color and Fuji CA II papers are almost pure chloride in all 3 layers.

    I say almost pure in the sense that they use epitaxy in some cases with Iodide to gain speed. I stay away from sulfur or sulfur + gold or tellurium sensitization of these to gain speed due to difficulties, but if I did, I could gain about 3 - 5 stops with my good old Azo type contact paper formula! Some of them even have a small quantity of bromide. In some cases, the other halides are there due to addenda such as Methy Mercuric Iodide (not that that is used, but that is a useful example. )

    Of course, the grains are huge being 1 - 2 microns across to gain the speed needed even with those finishes. But, who cares about grain in paper?

    Now, do you really think that you would find that on the internet? :D :D :D

    PE
     
  17. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Oh, that was 4 papers. Sorry. :smile:

    PE
     
  18. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    non developer incorporated papers keep just fine in a deep freezer...I have a stash of many such as oriental; forte;older kodabromide and I believe the emaks is likely the same...for contact printing starting off with a graded 2 or 3 paper will fit the bill...or of course the mas azo type paper...don't forget to put the light in some sort of cone enclosure to have the light more directional..
    I think it about time we start a thread of currrent non-developer incorporated papers...this would be very useful and well worth the time and money spent on these products!!
    best, peter
     
  19. jasonhall

    jasonhall Member

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    By all means, should have done that to start with.

    The F Stop
    936 Harden St.
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    E-mail: info@fstopcamerashop.com
    Web: www.fstopcamerashop.com
     
  20. jgjbowen

    jgjbowen Member

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    Thanks PE,

    95% of my darkroom photography is contact printing 8x10 or 7x17 on Azo. But, occasionally I'll shoot candid portraits of my friends kids with 35mm. On those occasions it would be nice to have a box of MG paper around to use for such prints without having to worry the paper will go bad prior to going through 1/4 box.

    I guess I'll have to put a box of MGIV on my shelf.

    Thanks again,
     
  21. jgjbowen

    jgjbowen Member

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    Peter,

    Yes, I believe such a thread would be very informative. My freezer is full of Zone VI Brilliant (the French stuff), Oriental (white box stuff), a couple boxes of Agfa MG, a couple boxes of Kodak Polymax, and some Zone VI VC III.
    I have a few boxes of J&C Nuance on my shelf next to the Azo. I specifically purchased the Nuance because I read it did not have developer incorporated. My Azo should last me about 20 years, so it will likely be a while before I get to some of these papers....
     
  22. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Just because a paper is a chloride or near chloride does not give it magical keeping properties, nor does it give the image tone of a true Azo print! So, just remember this when you really want a contact print with a chloride emulsion.

    PE