Please help me get started with enlarging

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by omaha, Jul 15, 2013.

  1. omaha

    omaha Member

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    Well, despite butchering another roll of FP4 tonight (but I figured out what I did wrong, so there's value in learning) I am ready to fire up the enlarger and try making some prints from all these negatives I'm accumulating.

    Problem is I am finding the selection of papers and such to be more daunting/confusing than anything so far.

    Simple question: What paper/chemistry would you recommend for getting started? Something basic and simple.

    If it matters, I've been using all Ilford chemistry so far.

    I am thinking of going with Ilford Multigrade IV (Pearl) paper and Ilford Multigrade developer. I gather than I can use the same stop bath and fixer than I am using for the film.

    Does that sound like a reasonable place to start?
     
  2. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    That sounds like a good approach.

    For clarity, you should understand that you shouldn't be putting your prints into the same, working strength stop bath or fixer that you have mixed up and used previously for film. You can, however, mix up fresh working strength stop bath and fixer from the concentrate in the manufacturer's bottle.

    Just be sure to note where different dilutions are recommended for the paper.

    If you have continuously flowing water, some will recommend it over stop bath when it comes to RC paper like Ilford Multigrade IV. I use stop bath.

    There are good alternatives to Ilford Multigrade developer, and some are a fair bit cheaper, but Ilford Multigrade developer is a good place to start.

    Have fun!
     
  3. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I agree. Ilford RC and Ilford multigrade developer are a great combo and very consistent. I haven't used the Arista.edu paper from Freestyle, but I've heard it's good, too (and cheaper than Ilford).
    My favorite stop bath (for film and for paper) is Sprint (it's vanilla scented). It's mixed the same for each - 1 part stock and 9 parts water. If you go with metric, this gets you one liter nicely and that's a nice amount for 8x10 paper in an 8x10 tray. I use Ilford rapid fix and I mix it 1 part stock to 4 parts water (technically the "film dilution"). I will admit that when I'm doing RC, I'll use stop and fix that were previously used for film. But I consider my prints on fiber to be my final prints / keepers. The RC ones aren't my end product. And once I use a batch for paper, I don't use it for film.
    Have you checked www.ilfordphoto.com for their basic intro to how to print? I'm pretty sure they have something there. I've been doing it long enough, I don't have early notes now. It's always a good start to do what the instructions from the company say (and I know there's very basic timing at least on a sheet in Ilford's paper boxes).
     
  4. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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  5. dorff

    dorff Member

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    Hi omaha,

    If you are a printing "virgin", then you are going to have a lot of fun, especially seeing the image appear on the paper in the developer as if by magic. It still gives me a kick sometimes.

    Your paper and chemistry choices are solid, and there shouldn't be any problems there, at all. If you haven't used your enlarger before, then there are a few things to understand or get used to, but it would be better if you give it a try first, and then come back and ask questions again.

    As others have said, keep film chemicals for film use only. It is not the end of the world if you use fixer on film after it has fixed paper, but it is not good practice. Best is to have a set of containers for film and paper separately, and to keep track of usage. While one can easily see when film has been incompletely fixed, and it can simply be re-fixed after, the same is not true for paper. Under-fixing can lead to serious problems for your prints in the long run. So it is really necessary to keep track of how many sheets have gone through a batch of fixer, and to discard when you think it is nearing end of useful life. RC paper is less sensitive, but with FB paper old fixer is a no-no. One way to test your paper fixer is to use test film strips. The film will clear completely in a minute or so if the fixer is still good. A square cm of film is good enough, so the leader that you cut off before developing the film will give you quite a few test strips.

    There are many things to learn when printing, and there are some seriously good printers here on APUG (I am not one of them :smile:). There isn't much you won't be able to find answers to, here. For starters, I think it is a lot better if you start with an easy negative to print. In other words, one with normal tonal range, density etc. If you start with one that would require special contrast adjustment techniques and a great deal of dodging and burning, you are going to get despondent pretty quickly. If you can get a straight print that looks good without having to jump through flame-lit hoops, it will make the initial experience a lot more pleasant.

    Let us know how it goes.
     
  6. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    With regard to using the same stop and fix for both film and paper. As Ilford give the same 1:4 mix for Rapid Fixer for both, I see no harm in using the same mix, and I have done since I started. Regular clip tests keep check of fixer performance.

    With printing, when I started I found it is really easy to get an image - heck you expose under the enlarger, put it in the developer and something appears. The trick is making the something a good image, and here there are two main variables - exposure time and contrast. The traditional way of determining these is using test strips. There are analysers out there that can to a great extent replace test strips, but they are not cheap, so you really need to establish your commitment and manual skills first.

    Like many have said in many threads, when you start use one film, one film developer, one paper and one paper developer - and get used to it. Once you have mastered the variables you can start trying other combinations and that bedrock of experience allows you to see how different combinations perform.
     
  7. Simon R Galley

    Simon R Galley Subscriber

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    Daer Omaha,

    We have lots of 'how to' stuff on our website, but PM me your address and I will post you the MULTIGRADE printing manual, a good all round help, costs nothing and will save you tears and money.

    Good luck....its not that hard.

    Simon. ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology limited :
     
  8. JLP

    JLP Subscriber

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    It is tempting to use the same chemistry for both film and paper and it appears that Ilfords Fixer can be used with the same dilution for both.
    There are at least two reasons for not using the same fixer for both film and paper.

    1. If you want consistency it is a lot easier to keep two bottles of fixer since you can keep track of how many film and how many sheets of paper you run through it.
    2. Contamination, the chemistry you use for film whether developer, stop or fix should be in touch with as little as possible meaning the film only. I can't amagine using a fixer on my film that has been slushing around in an open tray.

    Maybe i am a little sensitive to this but i hate spotting prints. Using the same chemistry is setting yourself up for a lot of extra work.
     
  9. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    For my input, until you get a good grasp of how things work and what you can do with them I heartily recommend that you stick to one make of film, one speed of film, and the same for printing paper, developers and fixers. Once you get the idea then it is the time to start looking further afield. don't try to run before you walk. It will only serve to confuse
     
  10. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Agree with most here that the materials you have picked out are very good products, even for somebody that is advanced. Ilford makes fantastic and consistent products for us to use, which helps in learning.

    1. Do not fall in the trap of buying old paper.
    2. Do not fall in the trap of thinking that some other paper developer is going to be better than Ilford Multigrade.
    3. Be consistent with temperature, and develop your prints for the same amount of time every time. Stop and fix properly, read the instructions and follow them.
    4. Stay with the materials you have picked out.

    Why #4 is so important is that your negatives are just intermediaries - they are not the finished product. The print is. Different papers work differently, and require different negatives to work optimally. This means that if you switch papers a lot, you will not see just how dynamic film exposure and film processing can be, and how it affects the final outcome. To me, the best prints always come from negatives that have been exposed and processed to suit the paper I use. Often times those prints are a lot easier to make, with a lot less darkroom gymnastics.

    So, my advice is to start out by printing every negative you intend to print on the same paper, using the same chemistry, and always begin at a fixed contrast filtration. Say that you always start at Grade 2. Then you will immediately see in your test prints how you did with your film exposure and development, and adjust accordingly for next roll of film.
    Then, of course, to compensate for high or low contrast, you should use other contrast filters for your final prints, to get a result that is as good as possible. But try what I'm telling you above, in order to learn as much as possible about getting the most out of your materials.

    Good luck and have fun!

    - Thomas
     
  11. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    The best advice I can give to a beginner is to keep things simple, practice, use resources from Ilford and Kodak (see link below and take Simon Galley up on his offer to send you the printing manual), consult a good book, and stay away from forums until you're more experienced. There's a lot of bad information out there.

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum216/114562-ilford-kodak-resources.html
     
  12. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    For my two cents worth, I highly recommend you keep any chems you use for film seperate from those used to develope paper. Dust and debris from the paper could(and usually does) contaminate film, leaving artifacts behind that will make you crazy trying to print.
     
  13. omaha

    omaha Member

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    Interesting you would say that. I was thinking the same thing.

    Despite the contractions in the market, there are still tons of different films/papers/developers and such out there. At least it seems so to me. I read stuff here and there about the subtle differences between X and Y and wonder what it means.

    It can all be rather overwhelming. So I decided to stick with the initial decisions (really shots in the dark) I've made for now. Last night's developing failure (I bought some new, proper mixing cups, and was trying to add the developer to the tank as fast as possible in order to be as accurate as possible on the time. I poured it in too fast and "vapor locked" the tank. Thinking I had somehow mis-measured the developer with the new cups, I figured I was good and just dumped the excess out. Turns out I was short, so now the top 1/2" of the roll is all bubbly. Bummer. They were some good shots.) taught me that I still have a lot to learn. Made me think of the opening line to Anna Karenina : "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way". There are apparently a limitless number of ways to screw this up.
     
  14. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    There are 26 pages in the thread below, is that a hint? :smile: And if you do a search for "mistakes", that's not the only thread. The best thing about printing is that you can do another one. Getting the film developing down is really the tough part. You'll get it, don't worry. Realizing what went wrong is the main thing.
    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/45603-stupid-mistakes-darkroom.html
     
  15. ROL

    ROL Member

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    True, one mostly has only one chance to get film developing right, but I disagree that it is "tough". It is a repeatable and predictable technical skill made rote with the application of the (a) zone system. I've never heard of a fine art negative. Printing, though correctable and repeatable with a properly exposed and developed negative, involves many individualistic technical and aesthetic decisions, not encountered when processing film. I think there is more than enough evidence on any classical printing forum that good prints are rare, even with the availability of a perfect negative.
     
  16. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    Actually, a very good point I hadn't really considered. I don't have problems with spots on negatives using the same fixer for paper and film, but I am fairly meticulous at washing everything up properly so maybe I am just a clean worker!. However, it isn't a great hardship to mix a separate bottle for film, and I think I will do so in future. Still learning! :smile:
     
  17. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I agree with the above posts, you can go to the library.

    Jeff
     
  18. bsinmich

    bsinmich Member

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    I find that if I use a dilution on my film developer that gives me a little extra development time it is much easier to get exact times. On 8 minutes of dev. time an extra 30 seconds is negligible. If you are using a concentration that says 3 min. dev. time 30 sec. extra has a big difference. Slow has many advantages. I also use another film tank holding the precise amount I will need so there is no doubt the tank is full.
     
  19. omaha

    omaha Member

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    Excellent news: My pack of Ilford MGIV just arrived! Yessssss.......
     
  20. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Very good advice.
     
  21. gracjan

    gracjan Member

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    Developer: Foma W14
    Stop: acetic acid + water (2% solution), regular vinegar is OK
    Fixer: Fomafix

    This composition has been working for me for years, it's simple and really cheap (at least in Europe).