Please diagnose this problem

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by DieHipsterDie, Sep 8, 2006.

  1. DieHipsterDie

    DieHipsterDie Member

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    Illford Multigrad paper, Detktol developer. Our prints are nothing but varying shades of grey. No amount of exposure seems to help. I've tried filters from 1 to 9 and the problem remains. Using the same setup I tried a print on some old Seagul and it rendered a beautiful image full of wonderful blacks, whites and greys.

    Is it possible the paper is bad? What's going on here?
     
  2. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    How old is the Ilford?
     
  3. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    If the only thing different is the paper, I would say you found your problem.

    B.
     
  4. leeturner

    leeturner Subscriber

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    The paper's knackered.
     
  5. rwyoung

    rwyoung Member

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    Emulsion side up, right? Safelight fogging? Have you tested for safelight fogging? What type of safelight and how close?

    Never heard of a grade 9 filter. 00 to 5.5 but never 9.
     
  6. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It's either the paper or the safelight. Do a safelight test, then ditch either the paper or the safelight.
     
  7. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    I would take one piece of paper and cut it in half. Develop and fix one piece without exposure (i.e. straight out of the box) and then expose the other piece to white light then develop and fix it (with the lights on for this one if you like).

    If the paper is o.k. you will end up with a white piece and a black piece.

    If you get two grey pieces, something is wrong with it. It is not likely to be the developer as you have had success with the other paper.



    Steve.
     
  8. DieHipsterDie

    DieHipsterDie Member

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    It's brand new paper. Not to say it hasn't been on the shelf at the store for a while.

    I'm using an amber safelight that's maybe five feet from the enlarger.
     
  9. DieHipsterDie

    DieHipsterDie Member

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    I naively figured that a #4 filter + #5 filter equaled a #9. Does it work that way?
     
  10. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    No, a 4+5 does not equal nine in this application. If you need contrast higher than provided by a number 5 then you need to develop your film much more.

    Retry your Ilford paper with just a number 5. Any difference?
     
  11. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    If they're getting beautiful prints on Seagull and lousy ones on Ilford, how can it be the safelight which is at fault?
     
  12. DieHipsterDie

    DieHipsterDie Member

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    I honestly didn't see much difference between 1 and 5.
     
  13. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    There should be a GREAT deal of difference between a number 1 and a number 5. I would contact the store that you purchased the paper from. It may have been sitting on their shelves for ages.
     
  14. Marc Leest

    Marc Leest Member

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    Do your workflow without safelight - completely dark.
    Check if the red masking filter of the enlarger is not in your path of light.
    Sounds if you paper is possibly chemically fogged
    M.
     
  15. rwyoung

    rwyoung Member

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    Didn't say which Seagull. If it is old, graded stuff it would probably be OK with a strong RED safelight. But "modern" VC emulsions don't always like RED safelights, better with the weakest possible OC/amber.

    But at this point is seems the paper is either upsidedown in the easel or fogged (chemically or "oops, I opened the bag").
     
  16. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    The way I test paper is to cut it into thirds in total darkness.

    #1 goes into fixer to let me see the tone of unexposed paper
    #2 develop for 2 min. then fix to see if foged
    #3 develop with lights on to see max black
     
  17. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Papers can have very different spectral sensitivity even if they're of the same "type". The same safelight can be fine with one paper and fog another. It's not a fault of the paper, but a mismatch of paper and safelight.
     
  18. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Red will generally be safer than amber - certainly MGIV is more sensitive to amber than to red. Graded paper usually rolls off it's sensitivity to light earlier than VC paper, so a safelight that is safe for a graded paper will not necessarily be safe for a VC paper, or indeed another graded paper with a different sensitivity curve.

    Do as others suggested and process part of an unexposed sheet of paper in complete darkness (or shade the safelight so there is just enough light to avoid bumping into the furniture, but no more) and develop another piece after exposing it to the room lights. Do the same to some of the Oriental at the same time for a comparison. If the Oriental sheets are white and black as they should be, and either or both of the MGIV are grey then there is obviously a problem with the MGIV, so take it back.

    Good luck, Bob.
     
  19. rwyoung

    rwyoung Member

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    OK, I had a feeling I said that backwards. Anyway, you get the idea. Not all safelights work with all papers.

    Isn't this fun! :smile:
     
  20. DieHipsterDie

    DieHipsterDie Member

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    I found the problem. It is the (drum roll please) SAFELIGHT!!!

    In total darkness I exposed and developed a sheet of the Ilford and it looked great. No grey borders and nice highlights.

    Now how do I fix this? I'm using an amber light. Do I need to go with red?

    Thanks for all your answers.
     
  21. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    READ THE SAFE LIGHT INSTRUCTIONS/RECOMMENDATIONS THAT COMES WITH EACH BOX OF PAPER.
     
  22. DieHipsterDie

    DieHipsterDie Member

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    It says light brown. Which is what I have.

    I fixed things though by moving the light further away from the paper and by improving the overall darkness of the room.

    Problem solved and I'm lovin' it!
     
  23. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Amber will be fine - as you have found, you need to move it some distance away though. A red safelight filter would allow more light - but I hate red light - depressing colour! Safelights with plastic or glass filters covering a lamp are not terribly efficient and some light of other wavelengths escapes through the filter and can fog the paper as you have found, so you need to keep it relatively dim.

    You should try to eliminate all white light from the darkroom. It's true that often a tiny sliver of light coming under the door for example will not cause a problem, but it is all accumulative and add that to the safelight leakage plus the light leaking around the enlarger head plus the after-glow from a fluorescent light plus the fact that it took you longer than usual to print a sheet so it is out of the box for 3 times longer than usual, etc, etc... it's worth killing all sources of external light.

    It really would be worth trying to find a book or two in your local library on darkroom work - much more convenient that reading on a PC screen. However, there are a number of useful documents on the Ilford and Kodak web sites that show how to do things like testing your safelighting (although you seem to have sorted it, it is entirely possible that a slight veiling of the highlights is still taking place - a proper test will ensure this does not happen).

    In any event, have fun!

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  24. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Glad you've found the fault. However if it's the safelight, anyone care to advance a reason as to why Seagull was OK?

    Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
  25. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Different papers have different sensitivity to safelight colours - especially if the Seagull was graded paper as they tend to roll off their sensitivity earlier than variable contrast papers. I do not have a curve for Seagull (and in any case we do not know which version it was) but compare Ilford's curves for Galerie and MGIV and you will see that Galerie has little response above 500nm whereas MGIV does not reach that level of insensitivity until about 570 - 580nm. Result is that an amber (590nm) LED safelight could be very bright indeed when using Galerie, but needs to be much dimmer with MGIV as it still has some sensitivity at 590nm (albeit very small).

    Cheers, Bob.