So I've been working in my new darkroom for about 2 months now, and I have about 20 contact sheets to go through yet, most of which have 2 or 3 shots that I'd be willing to put my name on. I apprenticed with someone for 2 months (who had way better equipment then me) and that is the only extent of my experience. I am having a few issues I was hoping for advice on: 1) I am FLYING through chemicals and paper! And wasting it! I like to put in a 12 hour day here and there, and out of all that time and chemistry and paper I'm getting maybe like 10 keepers. 80% of my materials are seriously going in the trash. Is that freakin normal??!!! I'm using ilford multigrade rc 4 paper and d-76 powder developer, un-dilluted. Kodak fixer, which I think is fine, as well as acetic acid stop, which I also think is fine. Reasons for this time and material wasting include: -The guy who taught me didn't do the whole stripy 8x10 on various exposures test print, just little test prints until one came out about right, and I'm sort of mimicking that system. I want to learn to 'guess' exposures as well as he did. So I'm running many test prints one at a time on little squares of paper. Of course, I'll get that right and all of a sudden the rest of the print looks wrong at that exposure... I have no idea how the hell he did that so well. But what's wierd is when I was around him I could do it too! Right now that's costing me a world of time. -I really can't tell from the contact sheet if it's gonna be good or not. I need to look at it big to decide whether or not I like it. So I do a bunch of test prints of something, try it big, and then decide it's not worth it. There went an hour of time... -I have a lot of trouble compensating for when my developer starts dying. I end up adding developing time by totally guessing 30 seconds more or a minute more or whatever. This causes really inconsistent prints, which really sucks, because I like to have 2 copies of the same thing (one for me, one for the band). So even if I get one right, I never get the second to be the same, because my developer started dying. -condenser. enlargers. suck. and I have one. An omega c700. I hate the stupid filters. I hate how I need to mess with all these magentas and then if I wanna try adding yellow or cyan the whole thing gets mussed up and I have to start all over. They keep getting scratched up or dirty and messing up the prints, and they cost me SO MUCH time. of course I get that part right and my developer dies and I think my exposure was off, and there we go again... -I have 2 consistent problems with my prints, causing my developer to die in the mean time because I keep having to re-do: 1) smeary swirly looking blacks that should be solid. 2) light fall off on the bottom of all my 8x10s, requiring burning double time on the lower quarter of each sheet. I have to expose the lower quarter of each print double whatever the rest needs in order to compensate for this. It's worse near corners. attached is a typical problem print, whats up with the black? you can see some light fall off on the bottom left, I think I tried to burn this one and missed an edge. I've already obtained a dichro head, I'm just waiting on a special order adapter piece to come in to attach it with. So I'm not to worried about the lamphouse and callibration because that's about to change anyway. So, how can I do the following: -avoid that weird cloudy black swirliness -save paper. (I'm running about 6 full size sheets per print, + 1 for test printing, and I like to have 2 copies, adding 2 or 3 sheets to that. So for 2 good copies it's costing me 8-9 sheets of paper. -save developer. I'm using un-dilluted d-76 powder mix, cuz thats what I started with and I wanted too keep consistency. I need something cheaper and/or more longer lasting? I've got HP5 negatives, shot in the dark with flash, and ilford multi rc paper. -save time. 2 hours per negative... that's a lot. Mostly this has to do with the god awful condenser head and it's stupid manual filters and light fall off. Can't wait to get the dichro goin... but general time savers would be very helpful. -with the dichro: the guy I worked with had 5 grades of contrast posted on his wall, so filtering was easy. grade 1 had this magenta, that yellow, that cyan, all in proportion. Grade 2 a little heavier on all...but still in proportion, etc... I was stupid enough not to copy them down. No idea how he figured them out. Yes they all had cyan for b&w. How do I create one of these handy little cheat sheets? Any and all advice on any of these matters is super deeply appreciated!