Need A Little Snap

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Snapshot, Jan 20, 2007.

  1. Snapshot

    Snapshot Member

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    No, it's not a request for illicit drugs but I recently did a crop of B&W prints using Ilford Multigrade developer. They look good but they came in a little dark. I'm not too unhappy since it was my first batch in a very long time (since the nineties). Anyway, I want a little more acutance in the prints. I'm wondering if the Ilford is sufficient and I just need a little more practice or are there developers that would be more ideal. Currently, I'm using Ilford RC paper with a pearl finish.

    Suggestions and advice are wanted and welcome.
     
  2. Sportera

    Sportera Member

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    Pearl finish and matte finish papers do not have much snap. Glossy papers provide a higher dmax and accutance. If you want mor pop in your images I would suggest printing on glossy, Fiber paper. You could even take it a step further and tone it in selinium.
     
  3. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    I use Ilford MGIV RC Pearl finish paper, I have no problems whatsoever, getting snap in my prints.

    You mentioned that your prints came in a little dark, is that dark as in flat prints looking a bit grey, or dark as in they are printed a bit dark?

    Can you view your negs on a light box, are they flat, normal or contrasty?

    Basically, your printing is a reflection of what you have in the negative.

    It is possible you may need to change the film developing time, to get a contrast that suits your enlarger and enlarger lens combination

    If you look at the film developers instructions you should find shorter time for condensor enlargers, longer time for diffused enlargers, is pretty much what is suggested.

    Also what grade are you printing at? Are you using filters or no filters?

    I realise you have been away from printing for a while, it will take a litle time to get back into the swing of things.

    I would perservere with the MGIV RC Pearl combination, there is nothing wrong with it. It is also about the cheapest and quickest way, to tune yourself back into the darkroom.

    What film have you used, by the way?

    Answers to some, or all of these questions, should help us to get a handle on what may or may not be causing your flat prints.

    Mick.
     
  4. tim rudman

    tim rudman Member

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    It sounds as though you either need to adjust contrast or reduce exposure to accommodate dry-down (or both) if using FB paper especially.

    You can use a 'sparkle bath' to pop up the upper values - but its easy to ruin a print with this until you get the hang of it - not difficult, just takes a few runs to get to know the materials.
    Tim
     
  5. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Without wishing to appear pedantic, 'acutance' means 'microcontrast at boundaries' and is unlikely to have much effect in prints; it's more a matter for film, and for enlargements from film at that.

    If the prints look good in the water, but flat and dull when dry, try making the final print at about 10 per cent less exposure and 1/4 grade more contrast. This should get the prints a lot closer to the look of the wet print that was made with the extra exposure and reduced contrast. You may need to refine these figures (5 to 15 per cent, 1/6 to 1/2 grade) but if the pictures look better at all, you're on the right path.

    I really wouldn't consider changing paper or dev, if you like pearl surfaces. To me, they always look flat, but that's because 99.99 per cent of our prints are on glossy paper for repro.

    Cheers,

    R. (www.rogerandfrances.com -- where there are quite a lot of modules in The Photo School on B+W, many of them free)
     
  6. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    All good advice above, but would like to know a bit more in your description. To build on the above, which film, developer and amount of time were used in development for the run of prints? What exposure speed for the film did you use? Ilford's RC paper with pearl finish can give plenty of life in a print, but the negative must have enough contrast to look good.

    How long were your exposure times for these prints? Were they very short, or very long? If they were too short, you may have backed yourself into a corner by not having enough time for a good look at things in general. Too long and you could be running into trouble with the paper's view of things (reciprocity). Roger's suggestions for time and contrast are good. Take a look at what you have and see if it is just a question of backing things down a notch or two. Can you post a scan of a print, so we can see what things are looking like on these? Thanks, tim
     
  7. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear Snapshot,

    You may simply be a bit rusty after returning to the darkroom after a long layoff. I would like to suggest that you choose only one negative for the evening and then experiment with contrast and exposure. Skip the half grades and make prints with similar highlights using the 1-4 filters. Compare them after they are dry. Once you have your eye back you'll be a printing machine. :>)

    Neal Wydra
     
  8. Snapshot

    Snapshot Member

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    Hi All,

    I appreciate all of your responses as they are helping to tune my understanding of the B&W process. I will endeavour to put the relevent ones into practice. As for particulars, I offer the following:

    1) T-Max 100 ISO film was used and exposed at EI 100.
    2) T-Max RS film developer was used for the film. Concentrate mix ratio 1+4.
    3) Ilford Multigrade developer for prints. Concentrate mix ratio 1+9.
    4) Ilford RC pearl paper and now some Agfa 312 RC semi-matte paper.
    5) Time in print developer 60 was seconds.
    6) Paper was exposed for 8 seconds at f/8 on a condenser enlarger.
    7) Negatives appear to be normal but some frames have a flat contrast.
    8) No filters are being used for paper exposure.

    I hope this information is sufficient to better assess my issue, which is the prints came in a little dark as if they were exposed on the enlarger too long. As for using selenium toner, does anyone have any advice on how it can be used? Thank you again for your responses.

    Anthony
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2007
  9. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Anthony,

    There's your answer.

    Use filters for exposing the paper...

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  10. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Motion seconded.

    It sounds to me that you need more contrast to retain clear whites while obtaining deep blacks, so using multigrade filtration is the way to go.

    If you have a colour head, read the instruction sheet that came with the paper for the values to dial in. If no colour (or VC) head you will need to get some multigrade filters. There are two types: above the lens filters that go in a filter drawer above the negative or beneath the lens sets that go in a holder (supplied with the filters) that attaches to the lens.

    Good luck, Bob.
     
  11. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    I would stop down to f11 and try using 12-14-16 and 18 seconds just to see what you have on the test print. 8 seconds is a bit short in time for a print, so you may have decent contrast and not know it due to exposure. You could even stop down to f16 if the time is less than 30 seconds. Get some filters! tim
     
  12. Snapshot

    Snapshot Member

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    These responses are great. I'll try to stop down and use filters to boost the contrast. I'll let you know how it goes.
     
  13. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    I'll ditto that. I don't usually use pearl finish because I don't want to risk the texture showing in prints that I scan and I tend to use FB for exhibition prints. Having said that, I've had excellent results from my experimentation with Ilford pearl surface RC paper. Not only did I get good blacks and nice tonal appearance (with plenty of "snap"), the pearl finish masks the oily sheen that can be seen in Ilford glossy RC paper when it catches the light just right.