Newbie! 8x10 contact printing.

Discussion in 'Contact Printing' started by cameragearforyou, Dec 8, 2008.

  1. cameragearforyou

    cameragearforyou Member

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    Never attempted a contact print in my life. DOne lots of BW developing though. What basic gear do I need and are there any good links on the web that give step by step instructions?
     
  2. climbabout

    climbabout Member

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    contact printing

    The nice thing about contact printing is you can make it as simple and cheap or as involved and expensive as you want it to be.

    All you need to get started is a piece of glass the same size or larger than your negative, a negative, a piece of photographic paper and a light source and timer.

    Place the paper emulsion side up under the light source, place your neg on the paper emulsion side down, cover it with the glass to keep it flat, and then expose to light. Some people use their enlarger as a light source, but a bare bulb placed a few feet above the paper would work as well. It just has to be something you can control and repeat. Processing is the same as for any enlargement. Beyond that you could also buy a contact printing frame to hold the paper and neg as well - or if your pockets are deep you could get a vacuum uv light source which is much more powerful for alternative process contact prints.

    But keep it simple at first - see my second sentence. Contact printing can and should be simple.
    Tim
     
  3. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Pretty much any introduction to photography book (why must all information come from the Internet?) will show you how to contact print.
     
  4. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I agree with Tim, discover the joy of the simplicity of contact printing. Avail yourself of a dark room, get a lightbulb, three plastic trays, chems, paper, and off you go. Eventually you'll want a light source that you can collimate... and a way to hold everything flat...or maybe you won't! (Does somebody have a photo of Weston's rig?)

    For fun I make various cyanotype and Pt/Pd prints just using sunlight. For that I use a board and I pin the neg over the paper. This is fun for the whole family, no darkroom required.
     
  5. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I use my enlarger for a light source. That way I can use VC paper and adjust the contrast, and also use the lens to control the length of the exposure, so I can dodge and burn. (yes, it can be done) No neg in the carrier (of course) and the lens is set out of focus.

    The first ones i did with a piece of glass over foam. Later I got a proper contact frame.

    Eventually I ran up against Newtons rings (only when using Polywarmtome)

    I sand blasted the glass on the negative side, and it solved the problem.

    The hardest part is getting used to how simple it is. If you are doing silver, after your technique is down you will tend to compare all other silver prints to contact prints. There is truly nothing else like an 8x10 contact print. One of mine is at a local camera shop that supports LF. Of course they sell digi too (the owners do it so support their habit)
    When "normal" people see it they are full of questions, almost always asking what camera and printer, while glancing furtively over at the D-what-evers and ink sprayers. The look on their faces when the shop owner points to the wooden 'Dorf in the corner and tells them it is hand done in a darkroom with a negative and a piece of glass is truly priceless. I could watch it every day.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 8, 2008
  6. gbenaim

    gbenaim Member

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    On the web, probably the best place to get started is the articles section of www.michaelandpaula.com, and the pictures aren't bad either. Early next year they'll have the first full run of their new silver-chloride contact paper, for which many people have been waiting since the demise of Kodak's Azo. If I were you, I'd read through Michael's articles on printing, get some good graded paper to start with (Kentmere Bromide, Kentona, and Emaks Graded are all good choices), some amidol, some thick glass, and either a light-bulb or enlarger. When Lodima paper becomes available, get a box or two and you'll get the best possible silver prints.
     
  7. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    I can't answer for Emaks or Kentmere Bromide, but you'll need a very low wattage bare bulb for Kentona. Maybe 15 watts maximum if the bulb is 3 feet away from the paper.

    An enlarger is probably best. Kentona is an enlarging speed paper.
     
  8. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    One last comment......get two pieces of 1/4 inch thick (6mm) glass from a glass dealer to contact print with. Why two? One is your nice flat base on which you place the paper and negative and the other piece goes on top to complete the sandwich. This avoids the foam layer which is dirty/dusty and won't tame a curled negative. A contact frame works nicely too and are pretty cheap on ebay in smaller sizes.
     
  9. cameragearforyou

    cameragearforyou Member

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    thanks all. Can some one give me some more exact guidelines if I use a nightlite or a 15w bulb at 3 feet? How long did you people expose for and on what paper? What processing chemicals are best for this.
    I hope I did stir up a hornets nest with this request and I see there are a lot of personal faves.
     
  10. CBG

    CBG Member

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    Due to variations of the density of your negative, the brightness of illumination, the distance from the paper, the sensitivity of the paper, type and age of developer, you'll just have to do what everyone else does and try it and see if your exposure is too low or too high. There are many descriptions of making "test strips" on the web. Many minor variations, but read a couple and you'll get the drift.

    Best,

    C
     
  11. dodphotography

    dodphotography Member

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    If you have a 4x5 enlarger do you just remove the enlarging lens and turn on the bulb? I'm just trying to figure out how to the get the right amount of light across the negative.
     
  12. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The lens (including the adjustable aperture) stays in. You do take out any negative that may be in the carrier, and de-focus the enlarger slightly, especially if you are using a glass carrier.

    Watch for evidence of flair, and try to make sure the light is even.
     
  13. thomnola

    thomnola Member

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  14. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    Why scare a beginner off with reference to this site. Yes Michael and Paula do nice work, but the materials they use and sell are costly, and not easy to obtain.

    Any book on photography printed prior to about 1980 will provide good concise instructions and information about materials.

    A point to remember - Enlarging paper are many times faster than contact papers and very quickly overexposed with an ordinary light bulb. A 7 1/2 watt bulb at 4 feet covered with several layers of toilet tissue provides plenty of light for enlarging papers.
     
  15. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    I realise that availability might be a problem over in USA, but Foma make a perfectly adequate (even rather nice actually) contact-speed, silver-chloride, double-weight paper. The name of the product is Fomalux and is available, in Europe at least, in a wide range of sizes.

    Fomalux can help in the process of making a contact-print as it is a lot slower than normal enlarging paper, ISO-P 12 versus ISO-P 110 for the equivalent Ilford Galerie paper, making the traditional hanging light-bulb printing method more practical and has a very 'traditional' appearance. It is a fibre-based paper, rather than RC, so if the OP can obtain some of the paper, he might also want to find some washaid to make the washing more quick and efficient.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 22, 2014
  16. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    Just as a point of information, it used to be possible to obtain Fomalux in RC, though hard to track down (I got some through the good offices of an APUG member from the Czech Republic); it doesn't appear on Foma's website, so perhaps they have stopped making it
     
  17. Compaq

    Compaq Member

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    I am now sure for which reasons you want to do a contact print; is it for proofing your negatives or just getting an overview of your images? If your main goal is proofing, check out the link provided at the end of this post.

    As Mr. Halfhill writes in his article, you should expose your paper until your blacks are black, not less and not more. You do test strips to not to find a workable exposure for most of your negatives, but to find out when the most transparent part of your negative (the "whitest" part) becomes black on your print.

    If you "standardize" your process this way, all of your proof sheets can be compared. Plus, you get some information as to whether you will need to burn or dodge your print excessively, or whether all tones of gray will simply pop out of the developer.

    http://www.halfhill.com/proof.html
     
  18. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Subscriber

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    Yep, un-focus that enlarger lens or pay the piper!!

    I want to reiterate Matt's advice about defocusing the enlarger! You may wonder why that would be necessary. Well, let me tell you. In the interest of full disclaimer, I followed the de-focus advice when I contact printed many years ago and now that I've restarted, I had to relearn this lesson.

    Both surfaces of your enlarger lens attract dust and other grut. In a perfect world, the surfaces are pristine. In my world, they attract a lot of dust and even a fingerprint. Normally this isn't an issue because you set the focal plane to that of the negative behind the lens. You can (if you are not careful) set the focal plan to another point... such as the surface of the lens itself. When you do that, you project a very very sharp image of the grut on your lens. I had forgotten that.

    The other night, I was printing a very pristine 8x10 that I had methodically cleaned of dust. The contact frame glass was pristine too. And yet, my print came out horribly. The sky was cluttered with white spots and there was a giant fingerprint in the sky. WTF? I asked myself. Before the forehead slap moment, I went back and minutely examined the frame glass and the negative again. They were still spotless. Then it hit me like a sack of wet cement. Enlarged fingerprint? That can only have come from the light source.
    I examined the lens and sure enough, it was filthy. After a thorough cleaning, I printed again. Better, but not great. Now there was only one big bright white spot. Again, the lens wasn't pristine but was as close as I could get it. I took a clean white piece of cardboard and held it under the enlarger light. The projected grut was clearly and sharply visible. I unfocussed the grut and got a clean print. It wasn't as good as it could be though. The area of the print where the extremely out of focus grut was projected showed a slight lack of contrast.
    I won't get my lens as clean as I want to get it because that particle seems to be inside the lens on an inner surface. My best bet is to remove the lens and put a neutral density filter in the negative carrier so that my exposure times are not horrendously short.
     
  19. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    :tongue:

    I don't usually trigger the shutter release until I'm happy with my composition. I avoid contrails and power lines too.

    On a serious note, I always de-focus the enlarger to the same place, raised the same height, same aperture and same negative carrier in place.... not sure if it adds to consistency of light or not, but it might. Fewer variables to think about!
     
  20. GKC

    GKC Member

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    I've tried all sorts of stuff. My current set up is--
    An enlarger for a light source, any format. I currently use a bargain Meopta 4x4
    A Mark Time timer left over from college.
    A Kodak Exposure guide (I think Delta makes these now,) or just cover the neg with an opaque piece of cardstock and expose strips of the negative in 1 second intervals.
    A short string of red LED Christmas lights bought on post holiday clearance.
    I like my printfile contact proofer over a sheet of glass or contact frame. I find it easier to keep clean of finger prints, easier to load and unload and not much danger of dropping the glass and breaking it.
    A set of 11x14 trays. Mine are old Kodak Dura-flex in spiffy Kodak yellow.
    A VersaLab print washer(yeah I'm spoiled. You can get an attachment for a tray to make your own print washer if you want.) I used to know of a guy who claimed he washed his prints on the floor of his shower.
    A sheet of glass and a squeegee.
    A blotter book
    A heavy flat weight---some coffee table size books work OK for flattening. A dry mount press works great too.
     
  21. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I've been doing a lot of alt process with contact printing. But for silver gelatin, all you need is a good contact printer and a light source. You don't even need an enlarger just a light source. I think Ed Weston just used a bare light bulb.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4aE2f07ON4#t=1236
     
  22. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    you can use the enlarger + bulb and lens/aperture
    but if you august have a bare bulb, just change the
    distance to the paper or put in a weaker light bulb.
    i sometimes make rc prints with bullet proof 4x5 negatives
    (can't see through them ) with a 300watt bulb
    the same light i use to make contact prints with
    silver chloride ( as ) paper.

    good luck !
    john
     
  23. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    Years back I used a radio pilot light type of bulb hooked to a toy train transformer through an enlarger timer. (Hey, it's what I had in my junque collection!) Hung it up near the ceiling about 45 inches or so above the print frame and it worked like a point source. Now I use my enlarger on a small aperture (f/16) with the lens about 24 inches (~max height) above the paper when using enlarging paper. Exposures run 20 seconds give or take.

    My last efforts were 8x10 pinhole negatives on X-ray film. I used VC paper and put contrast filters in the enlarger just as if I were enlarging.
     
  24. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    I may have posted a photo of it here somewhere. Before I got my enlarger, I used something I cobbled together in about 5 minutes from junk in the garage. A flashlight bulb in a bean can, with a cord hanging down with a push-button switch. Under the can, a cardboard "shelf" to hold filters. I did split grade printing with paper negatives. Exposures of about a 40 seconds or a minute... time for dodging and burning ( although I remember burning for up to 2 minutes or so... which got a bit tedious ) Worked fine and it's still mounted up near the ceiling of my darkroom closet.... simple is good and often can work well.
     
  25. JHG

    JHG Member

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    Whats the typical exposure time? 10 seconds? 15?