New to photography and need help with printing!

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by R Smith, Oct 20, 2008.

  1. R Smith

    R Smith Member

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    I was trying to make a print and i think my negative is not printable. This is my 2nd time trying to print a negative with no luck. The print comes out so grainy its awful! It goes from extremely grainy to complete black. I have no previous experience and was wondering if someone can give me advice on how to print. I really think the negative is no good for printing because it to dark. Below is a scan of the negative.
     

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  2. sdivot

    sdivot Subscriber

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    It's very difficult to say what's going on with such limited info. The scan looks ok, but did you have to do any extreme levels or curves adjustments to get it to look this way?
    If the negative is really dark (overexposed), you may very well get a grainy print.
    If the print is totally black, it could be the paper was exposed to room light. Is your darkroom light tight? Are you safelights too bright? Is your fix exhausted?
    With all due respect, if this is your first time printing on your own, you may be doing several things wrong. Basic printing is not hard, but there are a few things you must/must not do.
    I highly recommend Tim Rudman's book on printing. It's called The Photographer's Master Printing Course. There are, of course many books on printing, but this is an excellent one.
    Good luck,
    Steve
     
  3. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    Don't despair. That is not bad for a first effort.

    Don't forget composition, rule of thirds, etc. The cross on top is cut off...

    It helps when you list specific details of your process. At a minimum:
    • film format, film type, developer
    • Paper (VC or graded)

    You scanned a positive image of your negative which makes it a little more difficult to evaluate. But if your scanner can make a decent representation, you can do better.

    On my monitor, you need more contrast so use a higher contrast filtration when printing or more magenta exposure time if you are using split contrast printing technique.

    In regard to grain, I assume you are using 35 mm film and enlarging that. You will get grain but if the print is black then you overexposed the paper or fogged it. Are you making test strips? You should if you are not. Posting a scan of an 8x10 test strip would get you a lot of advice for printing.
     
  4. R Smith

    R Smith Member

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    The scan is a regular scan with nothing done to it. When i try to print it looks like grainy 3200 film. If i exposed it longer on the enlarger it starts to go black, with no detail at all. It turns black if i expose it 3 seconds or longer at f8. I dont know if this matters but the film is hp5+ and the developer was rodinal. I will look for the book on printing that you mentioned. Alos the paper is new and the safelight is four feet away and its no a real safelight but a red bulb that is in a lamp that i was told i can use for printing.
     
  5. R Smith

    R Smith Member

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    I think i need the book that the other photographer mentioned because i have no idea of what split contrast printing is and also i dont know how to control contrast when printing. Im in bad shape and need to do alot of reading on this subject.
     
  6. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    I don't use that combo but I believe that HP5 in Rodinal is quite grainy. For 35 mm, try TMAX400 in TMAX developer for minimal grain.

    I suspect that your "safelight" might be a problem. Do a crude safelight test by taking an unexposed sheet of paper and place it under the safelight in the same position as you print tray and then do a test strip by gradually covering up sections of the paper and noting the time of each section. (A proper test would be to flash the paper first with a subthreshold amount of light but that is overkill for your purposes.)

    If you exposure time is just 3 seconds then you need to stop down your lens or add neutral density to the filtration. Try f16 for starters.
     
  7. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    Sounds like you do, but don't give up. The fun of photography is that it has a life long learning curve and you are just starting. And don't be intimidated. Sometimes it is best to just try something but learn to have a method to your madness. Random, shotgun experimenting is not very educational in the end.

    There are many good introductory books. Check out the book by Les McLean who is a contributor here and a printing expert. That book covers split contrast printing which is an excellent way to start. Wish I had been doing it from the beginning.
     
  8. R Smith

    R Smith Member

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    I will try what you are saying. I was told to use f8 because if i stop down any more i would lose sharpness. Could the 3 second exposure be causing the print to go black before i get something good? If i exposed longer maybe i could get better results. That make sense! the print is being exposed so fast that i cant stop it quick enough for the results to be good. If i tried f16 i have more time to control what the print looks like. Does this make sense?
     
  9. R Smith

    R Smith Member

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    Thank you to every one for all your help, i will search the internet for the books mentioned.

    R Smith
     
  10. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    Yes, that makes sense.

    When a lens is wide open it has its least depth of field and is often unsharp around the margins of its coverage (i.e. the corners). As you stop the lens down, the image has progressively greater sharpness and depth of field. However, sharpness starts to degrade with really small lens openings because the magnitude of light rays refracted around the blades of the aperture make up a significant portion of the image. That is called diffraction. However, the effects are rather subtle especially compared to a "black" print.

    I like exposure times of greater than 7 seconds if possible and less than 30 seconds.
     
  11. R Smith

    R Smith Member

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    I will try another print tonight but from a film called efke since the hp5 and rodinal is mentioned as not a good combo. I will post the print if its not horrible. I hope to have this done in one hour sine i can dry the print on my radiator.
     
  12. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    It's not a combination I use, but I'd expect a lot of grain with a film like HP5 processed in Rodinal. FWIW, I gave up on Rodinal long ago because of grain in 35mm, but lots of people like it. Since the grain is in the negative, you can't do much about it in printing. You can mask it some if you use a diffusion light source enlarger, but basically, what's there is there.
    From the scan, the negative doesn't look too bad, it doesn't look thin enough to go black at 3 seconds at least for an 8x10. Unless you are making very small prints, it's possible that your enlarger has a bulb that is too bright.

    In any case, stopping down to f/11 or f/16 isn't going to affect sharpness enough for you to worry about. Even without filtration, it will be easier to fine-tune your exposure, if you're exposing for 12 seconds at f/16 instead of 3 at f/8, for example.

    If you are using a variable contrast paper, such as Ilford Multigrade, you can change the contrast by using filters.

    What kind of paper are you using, and what sort of enlarger, what size prints are you making?

    In addition to asking questions here, Ilford has some tutorial information on their website that may help; http://www.ilfordphoto.com/applications/page.asp?n=27
     
  13. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The advice you received on the filters is backwards, (you need them for contrast control on VC paper) as is my advice about exposing the 1/4 test strip you quoted above, as I wrote it totally bassackwards. A corrected version follow. Tequila!
     
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  15. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If your printing black with a 3 second exposure your negative likely isn't overly thick, as a matter of fact it sounds thin. Stop down for longer printing times, you need time for dodging and burning, so get used to it now. My exposures for 8x10 average about 15 seconds. HP5+ Rodinal will have a tendency to be grainy. My advice is to leave split printing alone until you master the basic concepts. A safe light test as Jerold suggested is also in order.

    What is your paper? If you are using variable contrast paper you need a filter set to control contrast.You can't really do much without them. The basic premise is to do a test strip of different exposures on the same piece of paper with a grade 2 filter (the "middle" of the filter range) to establish an exposure time. You can do this by first exposing a whole paper for a set amount of time. You then cover 1/4 and make another exposure for the same amount of time. This doubles the exposure for the newly exposed portion. This equals 1 stop difference of exposure between the two. Cover another 1/4, and expose for double the time of the first two exposures, then cover to 3/4 and double again for the last 1/4. (1+1+2+4 or whatever the multiple is for your start time, like 2+2+4+8 or 3+3+6+12) After you soup it you will have a four stop test print. You should be able to see the stop where the correct exposure lies. Go back and make another test strip, but break that print into slivers of time that cover across the time you judged from the four stop test. At that point you should be able to find a pretty good exposure. It should be noted that ten 1 second exposures may not exactly match the result of a solid 10 second exposure, but it will get you close enough to extrapolate. Make a print at the closest to correct exposure from the second test and judge the contrast. Move up in filter # to harden contrast, and down to soften. You may need to adjust your exposure time a bit if you move a lot in contrast grade, but it won't be a whole lot. After a while you won't need to do the four stop test because you'll know about where a negative will print with your set up, so you'll be able to go right to the fine tuning. Hope this helps.

    Welcome to APUG. It gets easier, and we are glad to have you here. :smile:
     
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  16. sdivot

    sdivot Subscriber

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    You're getting excellent advice here, but you really need some education on printing. If you don't have an understanding of the basics, you will burn through a huge amount of paper, chemistry and labor to get a good print. And then if you didn't keep good records of what you did, you will go through the whole ordeal every time you print a different negative. You may "figure out" a way to do something, only to find out much later that there was a better/simpler way to do it.
    A good book or perhaps a workshop with good note taking is in order in my opinion. This will get you going with a good foundation, and allow you to "take the ball and run".

    Please stick with APUG for advice and support. There are a great bunch of folks here who can give you invaluable advice on the many nuances of printing. But get the basics from a book you can have with you always and can refer to at will.
    I went to art school for 3 years off and on. It was fantastic and got me going in the right direction. It gave me the luxury of getting advice from an excellent photographer on the faculty as well as my fellow students. But in the quiet of the darkroom, having a constant reference source in the form of Tim Rudman's book was invaluable to my success.

    Good luck!
    Steve
     
  17. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Rodinal is generally not recommended for any fast film ("fast" being somewhat subjective, but usually ISO 200 or faster), particularly in 35mm format. Efke sells films ranging from ISO 25 to ISO 400, although the 400 product is reportedly rebadged Agfa material.

    To minimize grain in a fast film, you'll need a fine-grain developer. Developers can be classified by their effects on three characteristics: Grain, film speed, and acutance (apparent sharpness). Developers can improve one or sometimes two of those features at the expense of another one or two, so if you want a truly fine-grain developer, you'll have to give up film speed and/or acutance. At that point, you might consider shooting a nominally slower film (say, ISO 100 instead of ISO 400) and developing in a middle-of-the-road developer like D-76. Rodinal has a reputation for good acutance but less-than-ideal grain.
     
  18. CBG

    CBG Member

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    Hmmm,

    If you're new to it all, I'd suggest you step back just for a moment and reflect that you got a decent image. It's not a bad result for a start. It will print a bit easier when you stop down, if for no other reason than you will have a finer increment of control when your exposure is 15 or 20 seconds. So ... You're doing fine.

    There's quite a few variables here and it takes a long time to get a handle on the primary ones - so you might as well enjoy the ride.

    Rodinal is a good developer and HP5 is a good film, but the combination will show grain.

    If grain is objectionable, then maybe a finer grained - slower speed - film may be something for you to try. Fine grain developers do lessen the look of grain, but they also lessen the impression of sharpness. Slower, finer grained films will get you a less grainy image automatically. Developers like Rodinal tend to show the grain inherent in a film, but also to reveal image detail too. They are very revealing. Which can be a good thing for many people.

    I guess it's just that I'm trying to say maybe it's time to try out a couple of medium speed films - maybe FP4 - or TMax. Once you find one that looks promising -and this is important - stay with it for a long while. Get to know one film, one developer, one basic technique ... Once you really get a handle on the essentials, you'll be in a very good place to more knowingly explore other options. If you take your time and plan for a learning curve, you'll learn faster.

    Best,

    C
     
  19. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    I certainly agree that this isn't bad for starting out. After all nobody is born knowing this stuff. You learn it as you go along, and you learn far more from your mistakes than from accidental successes (he sez remembering trashcans full of prints he threw out himself.)

    As others have said, you may have a problem with that safelight, and if you only have a 3 sec exposure on the paper you have far too big an aperture on the enlarger lens.

    Keep at it. This stuff isn't magic. It may seem like it sometimes, but it's not. Trust me, if *I* can learn this stuff, you can learn it.

    MB
     
  20. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    I know there are real experts out there who are going to jump all over me for this. But I was taught by a bunch of old lab rats who did down and dirty production printing without a whole lot of analyzers, timers, etc. etc. They learned their craft in the 1930s and 1940s and taught me in the 1960s.

    Put your negative strip in the carrier with a stripe of the clear film between frames in the center of the easel.
    Stop your enlarger lens down to f11.
    Make a test strip of the clear film, using three second intervals.
    Develop the strip normally; fix. Wash. Dry.
    Now find the first exposure patch that is as black as the remainder. That is your baseline exposure. Any part of your actual negative which is clear film will print as black in your print. Make the exposure of your neg at that time and f stop and let us know what you see. KISS.
     
  21. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    John!!!! How could you!!!!:D:D:D:D:D:D:D

    (Good stuff, that advice...)
     
  22. marke

    marke Member

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    John, this technique isn't native to only "old lab rats. I recently returned to the darkroom after a 30 year hiatus. I took a refresher darkroom course at the local university and this technique was shown to me by the teacher, and he's only about 20 years old! The only difference is that I stop the lens down to f8 and expose the paper at 2 second intervals.

    Who says the kids these days aren't learning anything worthwhile?
     
  23. R Smith

    R Smith Member

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    Update!

    I wanted to reprint it last night but after a talk with my neighbor who has a son who studied photography he offered to have him come by and give me some advice. When he arrived he told that i have 2 issues. My first issue was my main light the is directly over my developing trays, it is a Cf bulb that he said glows after its turned off. the second issue is that my developer is no good. the developer i was using was purchased new from a well know dealer and appears to be old. My developer is a very dark yellow and almost like a syrup and should have been more near a clear color. He gave me some ilford developer and i changed the bulb above the trays and i used a 2# filter as Jbruner suggested.

    When i first tried to print the negative before the print was so grainy the you could not understand the name on the monument. I know the print is terrible by your standards but its a start for me. I used f11 for 9 seconds with the 2# filter and the results are below. Please keep in mind that this is the actual first time i printed a negative and was able to have the image clearly visible on the print. The scan of the print is very bad because the actual print is sharp and detailed. The print is nowhere near the negative scan but im very happy that im learning and making a little bit of progress. I chose the 9 second exposure but now i think i should have chosen the 8 second.

    I have already purchased the Tim Rudman book and cant wait for its arrival.
    Thank you to everyone for helping me!
     

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  24. R Smith

    R Smith Member

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    Is there a way to post the print in better quaility? The print is sharp and detailed but the post of the scan is terrible.
     
  25. CBG

    CBG Member

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    Wet prints tend to look lighter than when they are dry. They get darker when dried. It's not a huge amount, but as you can see, it makes a difference.

    So, when you are near a final print time, it's a good idea to quickly dry a test print to see how much "dry down" you're getting. A hair dryer can be handy. Various papers have somewhat different dry down characteristics. There was an article somewhere. Maybe someone will have a URL handy.

    C
     
  26. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    :munch:

    I think he nailed it. Your negative is underexposed. Even with effort it'll be hard to print. Do you have a different negative to try? First attempts are hard enough without trying to deal with hard to print negatives.