Safelight question (red safelight with MG materials)

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Sparky, Jan 29, 2007.

  1. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    So - I'm JUST ABOUT ready to make my first print in my fancy new exposing room. I thought I was being clever when I ordered a red ortho sleeve for my fluorescent safelight. However - it occurred to me that, when using multigrade materials - that this might throw things off a bit - if not fog the paper outright with it's (possibly) minor magenta component... anybody have any ideas about this??
     
  2. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    Might not be the best move, but test it

    Yes, multigrade is sensitive to some degree of the red wavelengths.

    Test the situation. In the DARK, flash some paper under the enlarger, til you can fiigure how much light it takes to get a barely disernable grey with no multgrade filter in the enlarger ( contrast will be about 2.5 with no filter on most brands). Put a sheet under the enlarger set to say project a 11x14 image size at f16, and set the timer to something like 4 seconds. Cover all but 1" of say an 8x10" paper with a mask - like a piece of cardboard. Expose, then uncover another inch, without moving the photo paper, expose again, etc. When the sheet is entirely uncovered, then move (again in the dark) to the developer tray, and toss it in for a couple of minutes before turning your 'safelight' on. It may take a few tries to find out how long it takes to flash to the first shade of grey. Evaluate when dry under a white light source, not the safelight while the print is in the developer.

    Then flash a whole piece of photo paper at once for the just before flashed to lightest grey exposure time. Put a series of coins on the paper, after it ahs been exposed and turn on your 'safelight'. Take the coins off at 30 second intervals until you make it to 5 minutes. It helps in this test to circle the coins and write the times on the face of the photo sheet with a sharpie marker. Process the paper, again in the dark for a few minutes, then pop it into the fixer for a minute before turning on the lights. You now should know how long you have before your 'safelight' starts to affect your particular paper that you use.

    If it is a resin coated B&W paper (the easiest by far to start with, and you might never move to fibre), then you likely can get it fully developed in a bit more than 2 minutes unless the developer is freezing cold, pop it in the stop for a half a minute and have it in a rapid fixer for a minute and no longer substantially light sensitive.

    If you do run into trouble earlier than that, then get out some black paper, cardboard and mask, turn out some tubes, etc. to cut the amount of light this 'safelight' system puts out until you can lay you hands on an OC safelight filter and safelight.

    But print for heavens sake. I still can remember the thrill of printing in my darked out bedroom with an old enlarger borrowed from high school over christmas vacation one winter over 24 years ago now. I had the enlarger of a fold up card table, and processed in trays laying on top of a piece of plywood and a big piece of plastic on top of my bed. A kodak bullet safelight sitting on the same card table was bounced of the back wall and roof of the room. And man did I print, and have fun.

    Within the year I had my own corner of the basement darkroom with a home made plywood sink that I still use. By the last two years of uni I was in an old house that had a second floor kitchen from before six of us rented the house whole. From there i put out the engineering society yearbook photos.

    There have been three other darkrooms since then, til my present one. Even if no one else likes what you do, keep at it, because it can be a whole lot of fun, and if you keep notes, you will get better with time. My first prints from that first darkroom look like not so great today ( washing in the toilet tank was probably part of the problem), but they still feel great to me.
     
  3. glennfromwy

    glennfromwy Member

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    I use a red safelight with MG materials and have no problems whatsoever. You said flourescent sleeve? I assume it's for a 40 watt tube? Pretty bright - be sure to keep it far enough away to prevent fogging. Do a simple safelight test to be sure. Same as making a test strip, without the enlarger. Exposure increments of 30 seconds to 1 minute. The first hint of gray over paper white is the exposure limit to safelight. I can go several minutes with mine. Plenty long enough to completely process a print with no hint of a problem.
     
  4. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    MG papers are sensitive to Blue and Green light, not Red.

    I have posted the sensitivity curve of Ilford MGIV paper here on APUG somewhere.

    PE
     
  5. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    We use Paterson red safelights in our darkroom. Once we tested them at one foot (30cm) from a variety of papers including several VC for half an hour, using a similar 'coin test' to that already described. No problem. Red is safer than orange. (Bear in mind what we do for a living -- see www.rogerandfrances.com -- and you'll see why we do such tests...)

    Incidentally, VC isn't sensitive to magenta: it's sensitive to blue and green, hence the use of yellow (minus blue) and magenta (minus green) to block the wavelengths to which it is sensitive.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  6. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Thanks for all the advice - I was under the impression that MG papers (yes Mike - it's fibre only) were very similar to color papers in having separate layers for distinct light sensitive materials, each sensitive to a different spectral group (except here - it's not dye coupled - just a higher contrast emulsion). Since magenta filters were added to increase contrast - I figured there MIGHT be some spectral overlap in my safelight - into the blue region that the magenta filters traditionally cover - I wasn't so much expecting fogging so much as something like a grade 5 pre-flash... which is to say - perhaps I might see a bit of a contrast kick from it. But I suppose there really are no substitutes for testing...!

    Anyway - the reason I did this (went with the red safelight) is because prints I've done in the past (on galerie) when I was doing tube-only processing seemed to have significantly more 'snap' (not exactly contrast - perhaps just better whites?) than almost all other prints. And so - I wanted to get a similar result, in case this was a factor. We'll see, I suppose.

    As for the risk of overexposure with the safelight. It's buried deep insidea lighting cove reflected by deep yellow (amber) walls - which should help remove any blue. There's no direct light from the safelight visible ANYWHERE within the darkroom, except INSIDE the cove. So that would only matter if you were something the size of a rodent.
     
  7. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Red safelights are red only and emit no blue light.

    Magenta filtration passes red and blue (think of it as minus green), and when using magenta for VC papers, it's the blue component of the magenta light that affects the high contrast layer of the paper.

    Red safelights are safer than yellow for most VC papers, as they emit less light near the green portion of the spectrum. Look up the curve PE mentions.

    A "real" red ortho sleeve filter shouldn't pass any blue light. Find a transmission curve for a Wratten 29 filter and you'll see about what a rubylith or ortho filter should pass. By definition an ortho filter shouldn't pass blue light.

    Lee
     
  8. wilsonneal

    wilsonneal Member

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    For what it's worth, I tried one of these fluorescent sleeve safelights and experienced fog. Nothing I tried made this sleeve "safe". I now use red LEDs for MG and they work well.
    Neal
     
  9. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Red is safe for variable contrast papers - maybe more safe than the standard "OC" spec filters recommended for the application. "OC" filters give you a little more visibility in the darkroom and that's why they are popular and recommended. It's a good compromise. Used as directed, an OC safelight should cause no problems. But I'm always a bit leery of filtered floursecent lights in the darkroom. Sensitized papers are very likely to have some sensitivity to UV light and some flourescent lamps emit a fair amount of UV radiation. The higher color temperature lamps (read daylight balanced) are more likely to do this than the warm white variety. All flourescent lamps will glow for a while after they've been switched off. The problem of course is that the filter material on your flourescent tubes may not be completely effective in blocking all blue and ultraviolet light. Adding to the complications is the fact that compared to standard tungsten bulbs of similar wattage, flourescents pour out quite a bit more light. You'll have to test to make sure your light is safe, but don't be overly surprised if your setup fails the test.
     
  10. harri129

    harri129 Member

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    Most red lights are not pure red. Even if they removed say 99.999% of the shorter wavelenghts you'll still have 0.0001% left. Give that enough time (or power) and you will fog the paper. I'd guess most practical filters leak actually a lot more light. The same applies for any non-monocromatic light source such as leds. My red led safe lights are *very* bright. Fortunately the light is mostly red. However, if the spectrum is split with eg. a prism yellow to green range is definately there and even a tiny bit of blue I think.

    In practice my safe light get me over 25min with MGIV RC (did not test longer) whereas it fogged Kentmere in a few minutes. Kentmere seems to be more sensitive to yellow or yellow-green range I guess. A red filter solved that (by removing more the other bands). Some filters can be very tight, even though most are not. My led-based safelight can be brigher that my red filtered enlarger if measured by fogging capability. :smile:

    Datasheets can mislead you with leds. They might specity 20-30nm bandwidth (usually the point where 50% of the peak power is available). A look at the graph with a scale 100-0% seem to drop exponentially towards zero very quickly. However, the tiny bit is usually still there. Drop from say 100->0,5% is just 8 steps, yet it looks like zero on a graph. Is that 8 stops enough? Might be, might not, depending on the power level.

    Certain light sources like sodium vapor lamps consist inheritantly mostly amber light (at very narrow spikes) and are a lot safer. Monocromatic sources like lasers are another safer thing too.

    Anyway, I've not fogged paper with very bright red light if it is pure red. Very bright 100% here means enough to read at 10-20% power level. It was ok to raise the red too, if the source was filtered more tightly. It is not about paper being red-sensitive but the small fraction that is not red.
     
  11. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    I dunno. I'll just have to test and test. The whole thing is a bit confusing for me... i.e. - adding magenta for MG paper - am I wrong in assuming that magenta is a double peak in the frequency spectrum (contains short AND long wavelengths with blue and red mixed) - ? Anyway - I'll just have to test.
     
  12. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I have Paterson safelights with red domes and 15 W bulbs. Never a problem with Ilford MG (or Ilford Ortho film, for that matter).
     
  13. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    You will be safe with a red safelight.

    An OC or OA series yellow light allows both green and red through and will fog MG papers, but a red filter allows only red to pass.

    You should have a good 20 mins or so under direct red before fog appears due to any leakage, but it will depend on wattage of the bulb and distance from the filter.

    I suggest a 25 watt bulb, no closer than 1 meter or more distance from the paper, and don't shine it directly on the easel.

    PE
     
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  15. richard ide

    richard ide Member

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    I have made safelight fixtures by building a box around a 2 tube (40 watts each) 48" fluorescent fixture and using 2 layers of transparent red acrylic for illuminating large areas and never had a problem with VC papers. Distance to paper was about 10 ft.
     
  16. Illumine

    Illumine Member

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    Veryfine (I think that's the name) -- the company that took over Kodak's paper role -- is sensitive to some safelights. I tested a bit under one of those small screw-in lafelight bulbs at about 5 feet for about 5 minutes and got a definite result. It's okay for two minutes or so from first dip in developer to first minute in fixer (and I stand so that my shadow falls over the print in the tray). Under my Kodak amber light I try to keep exposure brief, and under the red glass on my enlarger there's no problem. Seems that the amber lights are the sketchy ones. By the way, the paper is quite good for the price, though it lacks weight.
     
  17. Adrian Twiss

    Adrian Twiss Member

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    I use an Amber 902 over my enlarger with a 15 watt bulb approx 5 ft from the baseboard. Its connected to my time and switches off during the exposure. I use a durst Labolux over the sink (with the brightness turned down). I have experienced no fogging problems with either Ilford or Kentmere papers throughout a 7 minute processing cycle. I have had problems with Forte Polygrade and use a dark red 906 when printing with this paper. I also anticipate having to use dark red with my latest batch of Adox paper (on the advice of Fotoimpex and Retrophotographic).
     
  18. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Adrian. I also have an Ilford 902 which is not connected to my enlarger timer unfortunately. Does your timer incorporate a connection to the 902? Is there a way of connecting it or switch type mechanism to do this?

    I am not particularly au fait with electricity. Mine is a Philips PDT 2020enlarger timer/analyser with a probe and connected through a voltage stabiliser to the enlarger.

    I did previously ask this question and was told that I could only manually switch the 902 off prior to using the probe and then exposing.

    pentaxuser
     
  19. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

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    The graphs of paper sensitivity as a function of light wavelength (i.e. its colour) are a guide, but I tried to match some orange LEDs to MG paper and got it wrong even though the maths looked ok. A layer of Rubylith (red film for the graphic arts) makes any safelight safe, but at the expense of red light being harder to work with than orange/brown. On balance, I prefer very bright red to dim orange.

    You can get some idea of the spectrum of a safelight by viewing its reflection via the base of a CD at the angle that gives the "rainbow" effect. I was shocked to see that my orange LEDs had some output in the green to aqua wavelengths, though the intensity of those colours is difficult to judge this way.

    Rubylith will solve your problem unless the light is exceptionally bright.
     
  20. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    You're not adding magenta: you're subtracting green.
     
  21. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    I have Ilford 902 safelights for use with Ilford papers and some others but I installed Red Patterson safelights when I found that the 902 fogged Ektalure and Fotospeed papers.
     
  22. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    OK, I am not experiencing any fog that I know of, but this resurrected thread is going to make me go back and test again! :surprised:

    I'm confused by the statements above and others. According to Ilford's datasheet on MG paper:

    "MULTIGRADE IV FB Fiber can be used with most common safelights for black and white papers. … ILFORD safelights are the ILFORD SL1 darkroom safelight or the ILFORD 902 (light brown) ... Other safelight filters can be used, for example, the Kodak OC and the Agfa-Gevaert G7, or the Philips PF710 safelamp."

    I have used Kodak OC filters since Moses invented them. What's the deal? Is this yet another area where "YMMV"?
     
  23. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    How close and how long? I always wonder about those two things. It's like light leaks in the darkroom. If they don't hit the paper do they matter?
     
  24. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It's always good to test in your own darkroom for these sorts of things. I have a red LED safelight, which puts out fairly narrow spectrum light, and it doesn't seem to have caused any problems with Ilford MGIV.
     
  25. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    It really is a question of time and intensity. No safelight is safe for an indefinite period of time. I'm using three Kodak bullet type safelights with 15 watt incandescent bulbs in my darkroom, all with red 1A filters, and all bounced off a white wall or ceiling. I have no problems with any of the papers I use and there is sufficient illumination to do what needs to be done. Would I leave an open box of paper lying around in that light? No, but I don't need to concern myself with the amount of time it takes for me to trim a few sheets of paper to size either. These three lamps are wired into the enlarging timer and turn off when the enlarger's lamp is on. There is one smaller 5x7 safelight bolted to the wall and directly illuminates the work surface on the dry side of the room from a distance of about 18 inches. This lamp is equipped with a 7.5 watt bulb filtered through two layers of rubylith. A piece of variable contrast paper left directly under the lamp for a couple of minutes will be fogged. Move that piece of paper a foot to the side and there is no problem.
     
  26. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

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    Might have already been mentioned, but not all VC papers are created equal in terms of time and intensity.