My first attempt

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by mifo, Nov 8, 2007.

  1. mifo

    mifo Member

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    I recently found and bought an enlarger (colour head) on ebay. Which happened to also come with a reasonable selecion of trays, papers (B&W), tongs, timer, dryer, bits n bobs and the guys old chemicals (about 1500ml mixed plus the original unused undiluted bottles).

    I put it all together in a room in the cellar (which has the boiler and he heating in it - so running water is possible) over the weekend and finally got to av a first experiment yesterday evening.

    I usually shoot colour, but have a black and white film from a course I did in the spring, where I also got to process the prints (which is what gave me the idea to do it at home too).

    What can I say - the end result yesterday was a nice glossy white sheet of paper :wink:

    I very carefully rinsed the trays I would be using and wiped them nicely clean with kitchen roll. Added water into the last tray and put the developer (which looked almost completely black) into the first tray then the stop (very strong vinegar smell - rather yellow) into the second and the fix (had turned the plastic of its bottle black!) into the third. In all three cases I used the ready mixed versions so no idea how old they were but the guy who sold me them thought they should still be OK.
    Then I turned the light off and was left with the orangey glow of the safety light.
    Lined up negative - got in focus - got out paper and set the time to 9 seconds - then removed the red filter from the enlarger and hit go.
    after 45 seconds in the developer I had agood idea nothing was going to happen but turned the sheet over and carried on for another 45 anyway. Then went through the process of stopping, fixing, washing and drying just fo practice.

    Long story but short question. Where would you guys recommend looking first to solve the problem. My guess would be the chemicals (or maybe the paper).

    Does anything in my description strike you as very wrong?

    Thanks for any help.
     
  2. Steve S

    Steve S Member

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    Exhausted developer. The black colour means it has totally oxidised.
    Replace dev and fix with fresh and you are away. Sounds like an ideal location for a darkroom you have there.
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    How did you come upon the time of 9 seconds? What aperture did you use?

    Maybe the exposure time was just too short, and the lens stopped down too far. Make a test strip with a wider range of times.

    Is it RC paper or fiber based? Development time is usually longer for fiber, but 90 sec. might be enough, depending on the paper and developer.

    Be sure you're using fresh developer. If you don't know how old the developer is, and it's a liquid that has been opened, then buy some new developer and start fresh.
     
  4. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Read Henry Horenstein book on basic B&W photography - http://www.amazon.com/Black-White-P...9171268?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1194529563&sr=8-1

    I use this book in teaching Introduction to Photography at the college level. A friend has used various editions of this book for 20 years on the college and high school level.

    It will walk you through all the steps you need to know about printing, as well as exposing for a consistent negative.
     
  5. mifo

    mifo Member

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    Thanks Steve, Thanks David, for the very quick replies.

    I'll go to my friendly but not overly local shop which I've decided to give my custom to (despite being about 20 minutes each way farther than the nearest semi-profi place) and get some new chems and see if they'll take the old ones off my hands for me.

    The rooms great, there are two possible light contamination sources so I need to do some test first time I get to process during day light. The ventalation isn't the best either (foot diameter hole in the wall which is one of the two possible light contamination sources) and it's a bit noisy when the oil powered central heating gets going. Otherwise my only problem is that the table I built out of an old kitchen worktop is only long enough for three of my largest trays - but I guess I can wash elsewhere without worrying about light so that should be OK.

    I got the 9s exposure based on the prints I'd run from other negatives from the same film during the course (they were all 8-12 seconds for the main part of the print). Didn't think about the appature - have to check that thanks!
    As for 90 seconds - it's what was hand written on the unmixed chem bottle - so I'm guessing that seeing as the papers also from the same guys leftovers it should be about right.

    The paper is kodak - not sure which - would have to check.

    Looks like I get to go shopping on saturday :smile:
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    In addition to the lens aperture, enlargement factor, and the materials you are using, the exposure time also depends on the brightness and type of light source, so if the enlarger you used in your course is different from the enlarger you are using now, the exposure time may be different, even if everything else is the same.
     
  7. mifo

    mifo Member

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    Thanks again to all of you who offered advice. I took it and did some more experiments about 3 weeks ago and then a week or so ago.

    This is what I learned:
    1) Planning to post what I learned and actually doing it are two different things
    2) My estimation of how long things take to do is not necessarily that accurate
    3) By the time you've mixed chemicals, cleaned the dust from trays, cleaned the lens and negative hodler etc etc you've already spent most of the available time
    4) Clearing up takes time too but is worth it
    5) I can get a black bit of paper with nely mixed chemicals - a lot better than the white sheet last ime and a very proud moment :smile:
    6) Now I know why my dad always told me not to touch negatives - fingerprints come out on the prints
    7) I can estimate the exposure time reasonably based on head height, appature and a test strip but there is still fine tuning that can be done after producing a full image
    8) Hairs on the negative holder show up on prints
    9) Something somewhere still has some dust on it <grr>
    10) My work space isn't long enough to hold my four largest trays
    11) When working with three trays in the darkroom and the last water tray outside a fourth set of tongs would be great - cos I keep leaving the ones from the fix outside in the water bath and only noticing when the next print is ready :sad:

    All in all a couple of very productive sessions. Now all I need to do is pick the images I want to put up on the wall or in my album and start. Oh an maybe get myself a Jobo so I can play with colour too.