What is your biggest enlarging challenge?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by JeffD, Mar 8, 2005.

  1. JeffD

    JeffD Member

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    What frustrates you? What do you pull your hair out trying to accomplish? What is it about printing that is most challenging for you?

    It would help me to know that other people are struggling to get the prints
    they want, as well!
     
  2. Joe Symchyshyn

    Joe Symchyshyn Member

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    Finding time to get in the darkroom and print! (That's my biggest challenge)

    joe :wink:
     
  3. r-brian

    r-brian Member

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    I agree with Joe. I built a darkroom 2, no wait 3, years ago and yet to use it. Small kids take a lot of time.

    Brian
     
  4. Doug Bennett

    Doug Bennett Member

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    It used to be printing those really contrasty negs, the ones that give you that "soot and chalk" look.

    However, I recently fitted an Omega dichroic head onto my Beseler 23CII. Between the diffusion light source, and the ease of dialing in the dichroics for contrast, man what a difference!

    Split filtering is now a breeze, and I hadn't realized what a powerful tool that is. I just printed a neg of some pure white dogwoods against a background that runs a full range of tones to jet black, a neg I'd long ago given up on. There is lovely detail in the highlights while maintaining the range of tone. No dodging or burning. Amazing!

    My problem now, like others: time.
     
  5. geraldatwork

    geraldatwork Member

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    Finding time is also a challenge for me. I have smaller kids and a lot of family responsibilities. I would like to work 3 or 4 times a month but am lucky if I get in there once per month. When my son is working on his science projects for the science Olympiad there is so much dust and projects I can't get in there for about 3 to 4 months. Since my darkroom is semi -permanent (the dry side is always set up but I need to put up light blocking curtains and set up the wet side) it takes me at least an hour to set up usually more. It takes me almost 2 hours to clean up and break down the wet side. So I only print when I can commit for at least 8 hours usually more.
     
  6. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    One word: Color!
     
  7. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Morning,

    About thirty years ago, I became the yearbook advisor at my high school. I ended up taking home for printing any number of student-shot and, sometimes, student-processed negatives. I quickly realized that my fastidiousness in processing and handling processed film wasn't always characteristic of my students. I had negatives of extremely high or low contrast, negatives with fixer spots on them, negatives with sticky fingerprints on them, negatives which had been greatly under- or over-exposed, etc. In most cases, naturally, the subject matter was something which could not be re-shot. Fortunately, most yearbook photos end up as rather small-sized reproductions, so some flaws were not particularly obvious. In later years, I did manage to find some student photographers who were a bit more careful.

    Konical
     
  8. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    Time. Always time. There is always more to print than I can set aside the time to print.

    Bad karma. Even when I get the time to print, sometimes I can't pull a decent print if my life depends on it. When the bad ju-ju interferes, it's best to just pour out the chemicals, put away the negatives, cover up the enlarger and let the black clouds move on.
     
  9. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    As many of the others have stated - TIME to get in there and print!!!

    gene
     
  10. eric

    eric Member

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    Yep. totally. Used to be, not enough "darkness". Sometimes I want to print in the daytime but too much light but now my darkroom is in garage. I just tape up the air louvers.

    For technical stuff, I find, that street shooting in many, many contrast ranges are hard to print. If I had to do street shooting stuff again today, it may benefit from 2 bath development so the highlights will get toned down. If not, a lot of street shooting has that "harsh" look it.
     
  11. mark

    mark Member

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    No room for a darkroom or enlarger. Can't get more frustrating than that.
     
  12. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    1) Modifying my Beseler 45MXT enlarger to use pin registered masks.

    2) Getting perfect registration after dividing an exposure by three, then removing the negative and replacing it three times...or... after using a contrast reduction mask with the negative, then setting the dark tones with a shadow contrast increase mask.

    3) Gaining an intuitive / complete understanding of the masking process.

    1 & 2 are in the bag...3 is going to take a looooooooooonnnnnnnnnggggggggg time!

    Murray

    4) As with everybody, time.
     
  13. bon-jip

    bon-jip Member

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    My darkroom is in the laundry of my mother-inlaw’s house (I live in a small apartment) My biggest problem of late is convincing my wife that "Yes, you do want to spend another weekend at your mother's"

    On the technical front it was probably trying to split grade a very contrasty neg. on graded paper! It only took me 3 prints to figure it out – I went to bed after that.
     
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  15. 127

    127 Member

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  16. ScottH

    ScottH Member

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    Now THAT must be a rare problem in the world. ;-)

    Finding time was always a problem for me when I wanted to do it in large chunks, mostly due to small children as others have mentioned. My 'workaround' to the problem was to streamline the darkroom (pretty much a dry side w/ Nova tank) and work in steps. Last night was typical: new neg. into the carrier, test strips and two proof prints - all over the course of maybe an hour and half. Certainly not the most productive operation, but the only way I'm able to get in the DR consistently. Fri or Sat I'll likely finish this print and get started on another. Working on large FB prints takes a little more planning, and setting aside some uninterupted time (prior to washing). I usually swap out chem's and mix 'em during "down" times as well. My biggest time consideration is loading and processing film. No interuptions allowed there. Fortunately, it's pretty quick.

    As to the original question, I'd say my biggest challenge -- aside from a nice negative & I don't think the gist of the ? -- is 'print interpretation'. I can nail down grade/exposure pretty well after test strip(s) and proof print. For me it's those prints (most) that need some dogde/burning to get the values correct. Yes, it's a very subjective process and result, but when done with skill (or luck) can really make a print sing. Part of this larger process is which paper to use, any/amount of toning, etc. Choices are endless - which is all part of the fun.
     
  17. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    Getting the *#!@ door to stay light tight.

    David.
     
  18. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    Biggest trouble was spots on the negs and prints. All solved now with proper hepa air filters, 3 micron filtered water, and a clean darkroom.

    Next biggest trouble was matching the sample book prints in quality to what I make. After years of struggle, the solution was simple- German glass, Leica, Zeiss, Schneider and Rodenstock. Like falling off a log simple.

    Todays sample books no longer represent decent black and white prints so you just have to know what can be achieved.
     
  19. eumenius

    eumenius Member

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    Well... maybe an expired Russian paper? :smile: Or 25 liter jug of a hardening fixer, broken and spilled on the floor? Or maybe Soviet filters in red lights? :smile: I just can't nail down a real problem, you see :smile:
     
  20. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I am retired. My biggest challenge is affording film, paper and chemicals.
     
  21. bogeyes

    bogeyes Member

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    Getting out of the darkroom once I'm in there, the hours just fly by. I spoke to an eighty six year old gentleman last summer. We had a lengthy discussion about how as you get older time seems to go more quickly, hours,weeks, months even years get shorter. No there is no one out there making the clocks go round faster!This guy has it sussed, he told me that as you get older every task you need to do takes you longer to complete. When you are young you get your work done quickly and earn more free time. I just wish I could put life first work second. Bloody hell is it that time already, must dash...
     
  22. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    dust, time, gremlins...in that order
     
  23. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    That must be setting it up in the batheroom each time. Another thing is the height of the "table" on the bathtub where the trays are standing when developing the prints. Sure is the recepy for PITB. I am going to make some kind of boxes/closets to put on top of the bathtup to get better working heights (how to put this ?)
    Regards Søren
     
  24. Maine-iac

    Maine-iac Member

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    Amen!

    Plus:

    1. Remembering that regardless of how good the negative and print quality are, if it ain't a picture worth looking at to begin with, it's all for naught. Good darkroom work starts with good seeing behind the camera. Hence, I end up with some fairly disappointing times in the darkroom. This is when I try to remember Cartier-Bresson's quip that one's first 10,000 negs are the worst.

    2. I hate neg filing and contact printing. I do it faithfully, but I hate it. I also hate film developing, which is perhaps why I have simplified that part to about as simple as I can get it. Find one or two films that you like, find the one developer that works well for the films, and stick with it. For myself, that means Delta 400 and Fuji ACROS, developed in Phenidone/Vitamin C.

    Larry
     
  25. Maine-iac

    Maine-iac Member

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    My first home darkroom was a bathroom in graduate school married housing. I built a platform that was 18 inches above the tub. Solved the pain-in-the-back problem, but it was hell for my wife who had to climb under it to take a bath when she was 7-8 months pregnant. I figured if she didn't divorce me then, the marriage would probably last. It has, for 35 years so far.

    Larry
     
  26. Blighty

    Blighty Subscriber

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    My biggest challenge is actually motivating myself to get into the darkroom. I know this is going to sound like heresy, but I detest working in the darkroom. I enjoy the finished result, i.e. the print, but getting there is just a necessary evil. Mind you, it still far, far better than friggin' around with an image on a computer screen! BLIGHTY.