What am I doing wrong?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by ChristopherCoy, Mar 2, 2012.

  1. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,422
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Location:
    The Armpit o
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I need help. Apparently I am either shooting wrong, or printing wrong, or I'm just not used to looking at MF prints. I have not been able to get a successful print from a MF negative since I first tried MF back in Sept/Oct.

    Anything I try to print seems to be very dark, and muddy looking. I don't think my negatives are under exposed because there are clearly images on them. But I can't get anything longer than a 5 sec exposure on them. How are you supposed to burn/dodge in a 5 sec exposure?

    Here is what I was trying to do today:

    I started off with these negatives. They were developed in XTOL at 72 degrees for the 7 minutes or whatever time is suggested, and fixed in Ilford fixer if I am not mistaken for 4 mins.
    (larger photo on flickr)

    [​IMG]
    Negative by ChristopherCoy, on Flickr


    I first tried negative marked #1 with no contrast filter in 2sec intervals.

    [​IMG]
    TestStrip1 by ChristopherCoy, on Flickr

    The first was too gray I thought, so I added a 3.5 contrast filter, and did another test strip.

    [​IMG]
    TestStrip2 by ChristopherCoy, on Flickr

    My enlarger is an Omega B600 and I was using the 75mm lens at F/8. I didn't really like the idea of a 5sec exposure, but its the only thing near what looked good. So I exposed for 5secs and ended up with this. I dont like how "muddy" it looks especially up around the sign.

    [​IMG]
    Print3 by ChristopherCoy, on Flickr

    I thought maybe it was the negative, so I switched them out and tried a test print with this one. No contrast filter and for this one I used older Kodak Polycontrast III RC paper (it was a freebee and I dont want to ruin anymore new stock.) It says Ilford on the photo, but its a mistake, its Kodak. I thought that this one had blacks and whites, but they only appear around the 2/3 sec exposure. Isn't that extremely too short especially at f8?

    [​IMG]
    TestPrintNocont by ChristopherCoy, on Flickr


    Here is the uninverted negative scan if it helps.

    [​IMG]
    Negativeuniverted by ChristopherCoy, on Flickr


    (I'm scanning with our desktop HP printer/copier/scanner so please ignore the quality/dust/inferiority of the scans)

    Can anyone advise if its my shooting, printing, or just overall unfamiliarness with MF process. I've never had this much trouble with 35mm printing.
     
  2. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,537
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    The positives look quite weak and I would suggest it is possibly a combination of under exposure and under development. Look carefully at the numbers and writing on the edge of the film, put there by the manufacturer. Are they grey or black? If grey it shows under development.
     
  3. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,157
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2005
    Location:
    Los Alamos,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It's hard to judge the negatives with scans to the web. The positive image looks a bit underexposed, but the uninverted image looks pretty good. You are getting an awful lot of density for your exposure time. Stopping down to f/16 may help, giving you more time to work. The higher contrast seems to help, which makes me think that the negatives may be underdeveloped, but not by a lot. The uninverted image of the negative doesn't support that, however, and it may or may not be the case. The short exposure time also makes me think that you may have negatives that are too thin to print well - most likely do to underexposure. Try doing some bracketed exposures and develop normally to see if it really is an exposure problem.
     
  4. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,670
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, O
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Some enlargers have filters/screens that fit in the light path to cut the brightness, they are sometimes hidden in the lamp house.

    Also, the sign looks over exposed and the blacks good so try going the other direction on your contrast say grade 1 or even 0.
     
  5. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,307
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2008
    Location:
    florida
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Christopher,

    I suggest running a test to establish your personal ISO for the film/camera you are using. Briefly, cap the lens and click off three frames, take an 18% gray card and in a constant light and at box speed take a meter reading, without really focusing cover the frame with the gray card and no background. Then take exposures starting at +2 stops, +1 1/2, +1,+1/2, as metered, -1/2, -1, -1 1/2, -2. You will now have finished a roll of 12exp's. Develop as per mfg's time and temp for that film. After the film has been processed and dried take one of the unexposed frames and make a test print at an 8x10 enlarger height with your #2 filter if using MG. After the print has been processed washed and dry see at what time you can see a change from black. Then cut nine pieces of unexposed printing paper and mark the on the other side with a pencil to match the exposures for the other negatives. Expose each one for the time you found for the change from black. Process all the same and when dry see which one is closest to the neutral gray. Adjust your ISO accordingly. Shoot another roll of whatever you wish using that ISO and process as usual. You should be able to make a decent print with the #2 filter. You can then tweak as needed for contrast either with filters when printing or when developing the film.

    IMO it's best to standardize for each film/developer/paper/etc combo. Then when you want a particular effect or look you have a minimum of variables.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  6. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    6,824
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I suspect your negatives are flat and thin. Increase exposure and development and see what happens.
     
  7. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

    Messages:
    14,947
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You should also use fresh paper. Kodak RC paper will be several years old and may not be in good condition anymore.

    But as others have pointed out, your negatives need attention first. Before you shoot any more important shots, do a film speed and development test.

    Bracket a whole roll of film, maybe 3-4 shots exposed at a range of EIs. If you shoot 100 speed film, try at EI 25, EI 50, and EI 100. Develop normally. Then print the negatives with normal filtration (Grade 2) and focus on the ones where you get good shadow detail without trying too hard.
    Then shoot a whole roll at the speed at which shadow detail was best, and cut the roll in thirds. Develop one of the thirds, print those negs, again at normal filtration, and focus on the full tonal range of the print. If your highlights are weak and dark you need to develop longer, and if they are very bright and blocked up you need to develop less time. Adjust and develop a second third of your film, and print the negs again.

    Once you have established a good compromise between shadow detail and highlight detail - or overall negative contrast, you are in a good position to start using alternative filters and make adjustments, but it's always always better to get your negatives somewhat tuned into what your paper of choice is capable of first. It makes for much easier printing, with a lot less waste (so it becomes more economical and less frustrating = win-win situation).

    Good luck!
     
  8. fotch

    fotch Member

    Messages:
    4,822
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2005
    Location:
    SE WI- USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You want to eliminate as many variables as possiable otherwise, you will really get lost in what is happening.

    I would use only fresh, good paper, do not change to something else until you nail down what you need to do. It will be less costly to use good paper because you will find the solution faster. Make small prints or sections of the print if need be.

    Follow the advise given here, good luck.
     
  9. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

    Messages:
    7,193
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    f8?? That would be what I use for very dense negatives to keep things under 2 minutes with 40" prints. How big are you printing. Small prints, like 5"x5" should be fine at f22.
    If using a matched set of contrast filters, any test without the filters is just a waste of a test print.
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,314
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    it looks like you are getting a ton of (good) advice ..
    i spent half my years with under developed negatives they are a pain to print.
    when i enlarge i start off with the lens wide open to focus, and then stop down 3 stops,
    whether it is true or not i heard years back that an enlarger lens is optimized about that aperture ...

    what developer are you using to print ?
    go with something plain vanilla like dektol, it has been around for decades and works well.
    dilute 1:1
    use fresh developer and use fresh paper
    be generous with your test strips so you see what is going on ...
    make sure you agitate your print in the developer ...
    and notice when your image starts to appear
    with rc paper usually around 20seconds is a good sign fb it is 45 ...
    make sure you develop it for 2mins ...
     
  11. summicron1

    summicron1 Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,847
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2010
    Location:
    Ogden, Utah
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    how long are you developing the prints? Your negatives, at least in the scan, look fine to me -- When developing print take a hint from Imogen Cunningham and expose so that they develop for 2 -- yes two -- minutes, no less, especially for FB paper but even RC -- this gives you better blacks and crisper whites, but it also assures that you are getting FULL development -- less development means muddy prints.

    Set your enlarger for f-16 if you have to, so you get a longer exposure time so you can fiddle with it more. Make an exposure of about 15 seconds, at least, and then let it sit in the developer for 2 minutes. If it goes black, let it go black, turn on the lights and ponder, then cut the exposure down and try again.
     
  12. skahde

    skahde Member

    Messages:
    427
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2004
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The negative may not be the best one technically but right now its all you have, so here we go. Your first test strip says it all: Too much ligth, regardless of development, way too much. Close the aperture several stops, start rather soft than hard. Then do a test, get the highligts right and work from there.
     
  13. clayne

    clayne Member

    Messages:
    2,837
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2008
    Location:
    San Francisc
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm gonna throw this out there: Do you know absolutely, and 100% for sure, that your safe-light and it's position is really safe?

    Consistently muddy or hard to deal with prints usually points to a process issue - even if the negatives are not the most perfect negatives. You'll begin to feel that something isn't quite right - and it's at that point you should verify process and not necessarily materials.

    Also, 5 seconds is way too short for a print unless you're barely enlarging or contact printing. Don't enlarge wide-open either.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. skahde

    skahde Member

    Messages:
    427
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2004
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Safelight is certainly a good candidate but to my mind not the first in line. The thread opener said it was an MF specific issue for him and more important the hard test print shows clear whites. That leaves little room for a safe light effect, as we are not talking about a bit muddy highlights but really darkened prints.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 3, 2012
  16. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,422
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Location:
    The Armpit o
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks for all the great advice. I took a few bits and tried again this morning.

    I used only one 5x7 safelight in the darkroom this morning, and pointed it straight at the ceiling to minimize the amount of light hitting my work area. I also stopped my enlarger down to F/22. I used only the new Ilford MGIV RC Glossy paper for all of these. I was able to lengthen my exposure times and come up with much better results.

    (again excuse the scan quality.)


    This is a negative that I have tried printing multiple times. Now that I have stopped down to f/22 its turning out.

    [​IMG]
    TestF22 by ChristopherCoy, on Flickr

    Based on the results above I chose a 15 sec starting exposure.

    [​IMG]
    15secNoFilter by ChristopherCoy, on Flickr

    I felt like the sidewalk and sign were a little too hot, so I added 10 seconds to the bottom half of the photo.

    [​IMG]
    15secNoFilter+10burn by ChristopherCoy, on Flickr

    Since I was getting something worth the effort, I decided to try the other negative from yesterday.

    [​IMG]
    TestF22-2secint by ChristopherCoy, on Flickr

    Based on the results above, I chose to add another 3 seconds totaling 17 seconds. I also added 10 seconds to the right hand side.

    [​IMG]
    17sec+10burn by ChristopherCoy, on Flickr


    And because I was getting results, I decided to try this negative that I have been dying to print for a few months now, but haven't been able to because of the previous issues.

    [​IMG]
    Test by ChristopherCoy, on Flickr

    And I ended up with this...

    [​IMG]
    15secexp by ChristopherCoy, on Flickr



    None of these are finished prints obviously, but now I know that I can actually get something from them. I'm assuming that I was holding on to the notion that f/8 was the best for enlarging. Somewhere I must have heard that enlarging lenses work their best two stops down from wide open, and I guess I was too scare to try something else. I'm going to continue to read over all the advice given and go back for more practice over the next few weeks or so.
    Thanks again!
     
  17. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

    Messages:
    1,300
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    Winnipeg, Ca
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What size of prints are you making, with most enlargers if you are under 8x10 inch prints, the exposures can get pretty short. Adding a #2 or 3 printing filter for multigrade paper will make a huge difference in exposure time if you are using multigrade paper without a filter.
     
  18. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    6,824
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I should have added in my original post that the printing times seem very short, which is what makes me suspect flaccid negatives.
     
  19. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,670
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, O
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Still think the shot with the House of VooDoo sign might do better at a softer grade.
     
  20. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,422
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Location:
    The Armpit o
    Shooter:
    Multi Format


    These are 8x8.
     
  21. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,422
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Location:
    The Armpit o
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    I'll try it. At least I can SEE the House of Voodoo now though! LOL Like I said, these are just preliminary working prints. I'll try tweaking it in the coming weeks.
     
  22. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,670
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, O
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Small prints will print much faster than larger prints.

    As you step up in paper size the times will get longer.

    For example if you moved from 8x8 to 16x16 with the same negative and kept aperture the same, the time would need to quadruple. It's an area thing. 8*8=64 sq.in., 16*16=256 sq.in., 64:256=1:4
     
  23. clayne

    clayne Member

    Messages:
    2,837
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2008
    Location:
    San Francisc
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You're definitely making progress, sir.

    However, it *is* normal to use enlarging lenses at f/5.6-f/11. You should not have to stop all the way down to f/22 just to get a usable time. This is concerning to me that even at f/22 you're only around 15 seconds.

    It's been a few months since I've been printing, so slightly fuzzy, but I regularly remember with 8x10 prints, Emaks #2 paper, around 16-32 seconds at f/8-f/11 - depending on negative of course, but with 135. Even with 6x6, I was still somewhere around 16 seconds or so with standard apertures. Never stopped down to f/22. Using a DeVere 504, 250w halogen, dichroic head.

    Somehow you've got to reign in the right-side highlights, but in general I think the exposure on the left is fine, maybe slightly softer contrast needed.
     
  24. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,924
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Even with a 10 sec burn on the right side in the street scene there is still little in the way of detail. When there is a big difference in the light intensity between sun and shade try pre-flashing. In this scene a correct pre-flash will bring out detail in the sunlit area in a way that burning-in by itself won't

    pentaxuser
     
  25. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,196
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    +1

    If you are using variable contrast paper, my advice would be to almost never print without a filter.

    The only exception would be for prints where the negative density and enlargement are such as to require exposure times that are inordinantly long.
     
  26. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,422
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Location:
    The Armpit o
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    How would you use a printing filter, and a contrast filter at the same time?