Paper Negatives and Contact Printing

Discussion in 'Contact Printing' started by Martin Stachowski, Sep 23, 2002.

  1. Martin Stachowski

    Martin Stachowski Member

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    Has anyone done contact printing with photographic paper used as a negative? The only references I have been able to find, so far, pertain to pinhole photography. Is one paper better than other for this purpose? It seems to me that there could be a great potential for doing some creative photography, especially with the use of reducers and intensifiers. However, I’m not sure if I could superimpose the paper images the way one could do with sheet film negatives. Additionally, will the image quality be compromised greatly by using paper instead of film? My main concern is with the tonal range and the detail in shadows or highlights.

    Perhaps, I’m ready to move into LF! I have a MF rollei which produces 6x6 negatives. I enjoy my camera’s compact size, portability, and most of all, the use of roll film. However, the 6x6 negatives are way too small for the type of manipulation I mentioned above (using reducers, intensifiers, etc.)

    I would appreciate any comments on this topic.

    Martin
     
  2. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Martin, to test my 12x20 I made paper negatives. Mainly I wanted to make sure I had no leaks. So in a sunny day I went and made some exposures with ilford multigrade warmtone. So my experience is limited to this but mybe my observations will help you. I shot the film about 4 ASA. my first try was too contrasty, so I put a green filter in front of the lens and the exposure was right on. Afterwards examining the "print" I saw there was too much paper texture on the image ...but maybe this is what you are looking for. Since I did not want to waste more paper on something I did not plan on making a "real" picture I did not contact print it, but it can be done. You would have to use a regular bulb, as the light from an enlarger would be too weak. This is a guess though, I have not actually done it!
    As far as the positive print showing too much of the paper negative texture, I would imagine this would be part of the appeal.
    As to the toners, etc.....I have no idea, but why dont you try it and post and image, I think it would be ineteresting to see... [​IMG]
     
  3. edbuffaloe

    edbuffaloe Member

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    I have only used paper negatives on a very limited basis, but I predict you will be amazed by the quality of the prints you can make from them. It takes 2 or 3 tries to get the exposure down, but you can do test strips too.
     
  4. Martin Stachowski

    Martin Stachowski Member

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    Thanks Jorge and edbuffaloe. I appreciate your prompt responses. This is a great place for people interested in traditional photography!!!

    I tried using paper before but I think my light source was not powerful enough, and consequently, it took forever to do contacts. A more powerful bulb should improve things considerably. I talked to a guy at Freestyle Photo (Los Angeles) today and he suggested using a single weight paper. This may also help.

    Again, great site!
     
  5. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    I muck around with homemade 5x7 and 8x10 pinhole cameras and use paper negs. I have used my enlarger to contact print positives and it works fine, the times weren't huge. I have only done it with RC paper.

    P.S. My Avatar is a pinhole image... somewhat reduced in size from the 5x7 paper neg [​IMG]
     
  6. Don M

    Don M Member

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    I shoot 8x10 and 11X14 pin hole ,and 5X7 LF paper negs.I use Kodak Polymax II RC (no more SW)
    rated at 12 ASA (pre flashed is aprox. twice as fast as unflashed for some reason).I pre flash the paper for 1.5secs. @ f22 under my enlarger,which gives better shadow detail (longer tonal range?) If I'm going to contact print on regular enlarging paper,I develop the neg in film developer.You don't want it too contrasty,-a little flat is better.If I'm developing for Alt process,I use paper developer,for more contrast. I contact print using a 25W bulb in a reflector a couple of feet above the print,and I time it by "feel".
     
  7. Brook

    Brook Member

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    You may get enough light out of your enlarger if you take the lens out, of course you may have already tried this. I have a 5x7 elwood enlarger that has a 300w bulb, enough to print Azo w/out the lens on.
     
  8. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    I'm planning on using paper negs in the near future when I do some more still lifes. This way I can quickly run in the darkroom (okay, bathroom) to develop the neg and see if I need to reshoot it. MUCH cheaper than 8x10 polaroid!
     
  9. noexit

    noexit Member

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    I just did some contact printing with paper negs today for the first time. I wanted to take a couple shots with my old No. 3-A Brownie, so what I did was cut an inch strip off the long side of a 5x7 sheet of Kodak Policontarst III RC so it'd fit in the camera, used it at ISO 6 in the camera and developed it for a neg, then contact printed it under my enlarger. I have a Beseler 23C, and an exposure of 30 seconds at f11, high enough to get a good circle of light all around the paper, and with no neg carrier in place gave me good results. I did a test with the inch I cut off to make the neg first. I think that if you have an enlarger, give it a try with that. A quick test will take the guess work out of it.
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i use paper negatives quite a bit ...
    mostly outdated paper ... and rate it at about asa 6.
    i try to expose a little less - a "thin/underexposed" paper negative prints better than a fully exposed one. to process i use oxidized developer - and a water bath to slow things down a little bit tends to work well.

    i think way back when, ole suggested a croatian paper called varycon -
    it has a long tonal range and works great as a paper+pinhole negative.

    j+c doesn't carry it, but maybe they have a suggestions about papers they do sell, or they can special order a bunch of it ... i know i would probably buy a few boxes.

    -john
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 9, 2005
  11. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    paper negs

    There was a really great article in View Camera magazine about doing this. I know I have it somewhere but maybe someone here can find it. The guy was using Agfa paper for the negs.
    Best, Peter
     
  12. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    One problem with using paper negatives is that the contrast of the mid scale of a grade 2 paper is about 2.0 compared to a negative film which is about 0.6. Even considering the reduction in contrast by printing through the 'negative' you can get unacceptable contrast.

    Another problem is that if you use a VC paper, the contrast of each color record will vary due to the spectral sensitivity of the imaging layers. You will have a low contrast image, a high contrast image and a medium mixed image scale.

    I rate most enlarging papers at either 12 or 25 depending. I cut the paper to fit an old polaroid film pack and expose in my Mamiya, or I cut it 4x5 and expose in my 4x5 camera. It does work well, but you have to accept some compromises such as those above.

    PE
     
  13. gandolfi

    gandolfi Member

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    I've done it a bit - just played aroung at the times were I wasn't used to real film (in LF)
    these examples are taken with an ooold 18x24cm oak tree camera.

    I made contact prints from them. The amazing thinf in this is - as I see it - it looks like the white in the eyes tend to get even whiter than "real life", which is great, as you then can do dark images and still have the "look" so to speak..

    I have only tries nature a couple of times so portraits are the area with my biggest experience..
    have a look-see.
     

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  14. Don M

    Don M Member

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    Adox Vario G(in stock at J&C) is(reportedly) Efke Varycon
     
  15. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    And Varycon is great for paper negs - the slackest blacks you can find :D