Problem with prints, help please

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by SloboM, May 20, 2013.

  1. SloboM

    SloboM Member

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    Hello all,

    I'm novice when comes to printing in the darkroom. Can any of you please help me understand what is going on with the problem I'm having?

    I'm using Ilford MC paper and Ilford MC developer (1+9), Ilford Ilfostop and Rapid fixer. I also use Ilford contrast filter #2. When I make test print I expose paper in 6 segments, 5 sec/each. I follow Ilford's instruction in development. Everything looks fine on a test sheet. I choose the exposure I want for final print with same f stop and exposure time as on the test print. Again same set-up as for test print. The problem is the print comes out grossly underdeveloped (very light). I tried to vary time of the exposure but it doesn't help. If I open 1 stop and reduce the time of exposure I get the overexposure (very dark). I honestly don't understand what is going on.

    I would very much appreciate any help you can offer.

    Thanks.

    SloboM
     
  2. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    OK, assuming same contrast filter and same f stop on lens, the print should come out at the same density as the test strip, so something is wrong.

    Q. Is it the way you are using the test strip? lets say you expose 1/6th of the paper for 5s, then a second strip for 5s making a total of 10s, then a third strip 15s, 4th 20s, 5th 25s, 6th 30s. Are you by any chance thinking "I'll take strip #2 which was the 10s strip", because of course this strip has been exposed for 25s, i.e. the whole exposure time less the first 5s.

    Also, I presume you aren't changing the height of the enlarger between test strip and print?

    Also, you are leaving the print in the dev for long enough. It does take a little while after the image first appears to develop properly

    By the way, #2 is quite soft. You might like to try #2.5 or #3 as well.
     
  3. SloboM

    SloboM Member

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    Mr Rusty thanks for your response.

    I expose full 8x10 sheet as a test strip. I set the aperture at f8 (two stops down from fully open). I expose in increments of 5 seconds. For example: the first segment 5sec, second 5 sec exposure: the first segment now becomes 10sec and the second segment is 5sec, the third 5sec exposure: the first segment now becomes 15sec, the second segment becomes 10sec and the third segment becomes 5sec. and so on. For final print I chose second last segment of 10sec exposure as it looks best in my opinion. I do not change any setup including enlarger hight. Ilford recommends development time of 1 minute. That what I was doing. I do agree that #2 is soft.

    SloboM
     
  4. wilfbiffherb

    wilfbiffherb Member

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    if youre choosing the second to last segment it wont be 10s. that would be the second segment. if youre exposing each strip for 5s then the second to last would be the total exposure time minus 5 seconds so if you did a test strip over 25 seconds the second to last would be 20s.
     
  5. R.Gould

    R.Gould Member

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    Try doing the test strip this way. expose the whole sheet for 5 seconds, then cover section 1 and expose for a further 5 seconds, again cove the next section and expose for a further 5 seconds, continue untill you have sections up to 30 seconds, that way you will clearly be able to see each section and be sure you are looking at 5,10,15, 20,25 and 30 seconds, and be genouroes with the wedges.
    Richard
     
  6. SloboM

    SloboM Member

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    Hi wilfbiffherb,

    Are you sure about this? If the last exposure is 5sec than the next to last is 10sec.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 20, 2013
  7. SloboM

    SloboM Member

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    Hi R. Gould,

    This is exactly what I was doing, just the backwards.
     
  8. ROL

    ROL Member

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  9. SloboM

    SloboM Member

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    ROL thanks for the reply. I'll study this very carefully.
     
  10. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Make sure that the material you use to cover your paper with when making the test strip is entirely opaque. Or some light will shine through and fog the paper underneath.

    Also, instead of doing 5 second increments, I recommend using the values on the f/stop ring on your camera lens. 32s, 22s, 16s, 11s, 8s, 5.6s, and 4s. You go backwards like that, so that the first strip is 32 seconds, next is 22 seconds, etc. It gives you one full stop between strips and gives you a better idea of what different levels of exposure will do in your final print.

    Good luck. Keep posting back here with your results.
     
  11. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Could it be that you are exposing your main print with the paper upside down?
     
  12. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    OK Thomas, now you have me confused. It sounds like you are recommending this sequence:

    Paper uncovered
    1st exposure = 32 seconds
    Cover a bit of paper and give 22 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 54 seconds).
    Cover a bit of paper and give 16 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 70 seconds).
    Cover a bit of paper and give 11 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 81 seconds).
    Cover a bit of paper and give 8 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 89 seconds).
    Cover a bit of paper and give 5.6 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 94.6 seconds).
    Cover a bit of paper and give 4 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 98.6 seconds).

    Those are huge times! Or do you mean:

    Paper uncovered
    Expose for 4 seconds
    Cover a bit of paper and give 5.6 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 9.6 seconds).
    Cover a bit of paper and give 8 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 17.6 seconds).
    Cover a bit of paper and give 11 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 28.6 seconds).
    Cover a bit of paper and give 16 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 44.6 seconds).
    Cover a bit of paper and give 22 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 64.6 seconds).
    Cover a bit of paper and give 32 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 96.6 seconds).

    Either way it makes no sense to me. What am I missing?

    In a previous thread I recommended:

    Paper uncovered
    Give an exposure of 8 seconds
    Cover a bit of paper and give 2 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 10 seconds which is one-third stop more than the previous strip has).
    Cover a bit of paper and give 2.5 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 12.5 seconds which is one-third stop more than the previous strip has).
    Cover a bit of paper and give 3.5 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 16 seconds which is one-third stop more than the previous strip has and one full stop more than the first strip).
    Cover a bit of paper and give 4 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 20 seconds which is one-third stop more than the previous strip has).
    Cover a bit of paper and give 5 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 25 seconds which is one-third stop more than the previous strip has).
    Cover a bit of paper and give 7 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 32 seconds which is one-third stop more than the previous strip has and two full stops more than the first strip).
    Cover a bit of paper and give 8 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 40 seconds which is one-third stop more than the previous strip has).
    Cover a bit of paper and give 10 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 50 seconds which is one-third stop more than the previous strip has).
    Cover a bit of paper and give 14 seconds more (that strip would now have a total of 64 seconds which is one-third stop more than the previous strip has and three full stops more than the first strip).

    This sequence above increases in 1/3-stop geometric intervals and each strip is very distinct and appears visually to be the same amount of increase between each step. Conversely, an arithmetic sequence with an interval of 5-seconds becomes less and less effective as the total time increases. From 5 seconds to 10 seconds, the 5-second interval represents 100% change in exposure (or one full f/stop) but from 45 seconds to 50 seconds is only about a 10% increase.

    If you examine the sequence I use, you will notice that it increases the same as film speeds: ISO 8 (Efke 820 Infrared w/cutoff filter), ISO 10, ISO 12, ISO 16, ISO 20, ISO 25 (as in Kodachrome 25), ISO 32 (Polaroid type 55 negative) ISO 40 (Kodachrome A), ISO 50 (Efke 50), ISO 64 (Kodachrome 64), ISO 80 (Ilford Ortho Plus), ISO 100 (T-Max 100), ISO 125 (Plus-X), ISO 160 (High Speed Ektachrome), ISO 200 (Kodak Gold 200), ISO 250, ISO 320 (Tri-X Professional TXP), ISO 400 (TMAX 400), etc. Each subsequent strip is a true geometric increase of 1/3-stop just like the ISO film speed sequence.

    Just write the test strip exposure sequence down and keep it next to your enlarger. That way you won't have to memorize the sequence and you will have much improved test strips.

    Joe



    .
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 20, 2013
  13. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Try what R Gould has suggested then there is no confusion on times for each section. Unless confusion has crept in I can see no other way in which you can have the problem you describe, given that you are sure that all other things are identical between the test strip and full print.

    pentaxuser
     
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  15. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    With some beginning printers the constant test strip interval method does produce confusion because the strips becomes harder to discern at longer exposures, and sometimes the first exposure doesn't show with an arithmetic test strip (e.g., 5+5+5+5...). At least that has been my experience working with introductory-level students in a community college darkroom. It is also very common for them to confuse the darkest strip with the least exposure and vice versa.
     
  16. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Joe,

    You start by covering the whole paper with your opaque light blocking device. Turn enlarger light on.

    Starting at 32 seconds, and counting backwards you expose one strip of the sheet.
    Then at 22 seconds you move the light blocking device again to expose the next strip of the paper.
    Repeat at 16, 11, 8, 5.6 seconds, and at 4 seconds the whole sheet should be illuminated, and at 0 seconds turn enlarger light off.

    I don't know how much simpler it can get? What's the source of confusion?

    - Thomas

     
  17. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    desertratt, I'm not here to argue with anyone. I'm just trying to understand what Thomas is talking about and help someone who is confused over the method they are using. You're right. This ain't the Manhattan Project, but the geometric test strip isn't rocket surgery. :smile: Just write it down and try it.

    I used to hate asparagus when I was a little kid because of how it was served up (canned, boiled, overcooked, and mushy). Once I tried it a different way (fresh and steamed), it became one of my favorite things.

    Try it, you'll like it.
     
  18. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    Aha! Now I know what you are doing. You are counting backwards from the total exposure time and uncovering the paper at certain points. I thought we were talking about progressively covering the previously exposed strip, not uncovering unexposed paper.

    I'll pm for some more clarification.

    Thanks,

    Joe
     
  19. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    If you do your full print by resetting the timer for the full time, it's possible your timer isn't consistent. Depending on what type of timer you use (and I've tested mine and am fairly sure I can get away with adding up the shorter times), if you do a test strip with multiple hits of 5 seconds each, then you should use the number of hits with the timer still set at 5 seconds - not resetting the timer for 10 seconds.
    I know Thomas' method sounds tougher to imagine, but many people swear by it (and it does make sense after using it). I do my test strips the way you explained you were, btw, and I don't use Thomas's method (though I've considered switching).
     
  20. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    After giving it some thought, Thomas' method is probably the easiest way to do a geometric series (if you can remember the standard f/stops on your lenses). His method has a bit coarser interval than mine, but we are basically doing the same thing and probably would be very close on a printing time. Mechanically, Thomas' way is simpler because he is giving really only one continuous exposure and doesn't have to reset the timer. This also eliminates any intermittency effect, or as Beth has noted, cumulative timer error which could be happening with the method I suggested.

    I'm a convert Thomas. And I'll recommend your method from now on.

    Joe
     
  21. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Are you sure? When you do the last 5 second exposure is the entire sheet of paper uncovered? Examine the print you made after the test strip/print carefully. You said it was too light. Does it look like the "5 second" strip on the test print?

    Diagnose the problem first. I don't think there is a need to change the test print method you are using. It is fine. Just make sure you are doing it properly.
     
  22. SloboM

    SloboM Member

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    Hello all. Thank you for helping me out.

    Definitely there are some good suggestions to try. This can be confusing for somebody new to darkroom wizardry.

    Thomas, I find your idea interesting. I'll definitely try your method.

    Thanks Michael. I start by exposing first segment for 5 sec, than I move light blocking sheet to the next segment and expose that segment for 5 sec. So the first segment is now exposed for 10 sec, than I move blocker to the next segment, expose it for 5 sec.So the first segment is now exposed for 15 sec and so on. At the end my last segment is exposed for 5 seconds and the firs one foe 30 seconds.
     
  23. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    This whole thread tells me the OP is just trying to "ballpark" at this stage of printing. And for that, I suggest a Kodak Projection Print Scale. That thing has far more that is useful for than the name describes. And cuts out a lot of this needless experimentation.
     
  24. SloboM

    SloboM Member

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    Sorry I don't understand what you mean by this. Care to elaborate?

    SloboM
     
  25. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    Yeah, sounds to me like you'd be happy enough right now at this stage to just get down some exposure times that make sense. No doubt you're up and down with the enlarger column, every negative is different, and you're just looking to get some exposure consistency. I'm betting right now, you're struggling to get some times and lens openings at least in the same city as you. I'll bet very little makes sense to you right now. (I could be mis-reading you). And if this is the case, I'd say get a Kodak PP Scale, and go with that a while. And if you go on Ralph Lambrecht's site and get an enlarger height compensation graph, and you'll be cranking out some serious prints is a few days.
     
  26. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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