What's the secret?

Discussion in 'Contact Printing' started by Toffle, Sep 28, 2009.

  1. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    I have recently gotten into 4x5 large format, and while I was waiting for my film to arrive, I cut down some 8x10 paper so I could practice some shooting. I have been contact printing these paper negatives on some 5x7 paper, which looks really nice. The problem is I can't get the negative to sit straight on the paper when I place the glass on top. (I don't have a printing frame, I am placing the sandwiched paper under glass on my easel and using the easel mask to define the print.) Somehow, it always moves... sometimes only a little, sometimes a lot, but whenever I print, the image is always a little bit off that perfect alignment.

    This is extremely frustrating. Is this just a problem with paper-to-paper printing, or can I expect this same frustration when I start printing my film negatives as well? What do you do to keep your prints/negatives aligned?

    Cheers,
     
  2. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Try leaving a little border and secure with drafting tape.
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    I use a printing frame.
     
  4. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    I considered that, but I wouldn't want the tape to show on the print. I've been trying to print with a border outside the negative. The effect is quite nice, but it's frustrating to have the final print off by a bit every time.

    (AACK!!! I just realized this is my 666th post on APUG... :D )
     
  5. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Tom,
    I also use a printing frame but thought you wanted to know what to do in your situation.
     
  6. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    Seeing as I have no plans (permission) of purchasing a 4x5 enlarger any time in the near future, I am definitely getting (or making) one of those soon.

    (Whew... 667... just across the street from the beast... :D )

    Cheers,
     
  7. rthomas

    rthomas Member

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    In regards to the 4x5 enlarger possibility: you might want to do what I did and check local schools to see if they have old gear they are getting rid of in order to make room for d*****l (or in the case of my school, buying better enlargers). You might find a real gem that's about to go in the dumpster! You also might find contact printing equipment this way.
     
  8. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    Funny, thing... I am the Arts Head of a large(ish) high school in LaSalle ON. For a variety of reasons the darkroom was recently closed, (It was idle for the last decade, long before I took the position) and I was able to bring home a few things that were in not too bad shape... but no 4x5.

    (668... the neighbour of the beast... :D)

    Cheers,
     
  9. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member

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    When I want to accomplish this, I take a dummy negative and make very faint pencil marks on the paper where I need the negative to sit. Since the marks are just within the border outside the neg, they never show after the deed is done. Also, if you aren't using it, a bit of felt or foam at the bottom the sandwich cures a lot of ills.
     
  10. DannL

    DannL Member

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    Here's one method . . .

    1. Create the print as you have, with no regard for exact position of the negative on the paper.
    2. Crop the print to the appropriate size and orientation, eliminating the white border.
    3. Mount the print on a board of a color and texture that compliments the picture.
    4. Sign the board under the print in pencil, or sign the print directly.
    5. Enjoy your print for the next 150 years.
     
  11. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

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    Try a little of the clear sticky tape to tape two corners of the paper negative to the glass. You may not see any of the tape in the image.

    -V
     
  12. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    sometimes getting the receiving paper
    so the emulsions stick together will work ... sometimes i am off a tiny bit
    and i just trim the print to square it off ..
     
  13. dpurdy

    dpurdy Subscriber

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    I do my contacting the way you do with glass. I use a large piece of quarter inch plate glass. If you try to put the glass down to quickly there is a current of air created that will move the film on top. You have to lower the glass slowly and let the air escape till you are holding the glass as close as possible before setting it all the way down. I much prefer this to using the print frame. Quicker and easier.
    Dennis
     
  14. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    I have heard paper negs can be contact printed wet. Haven't ever done it myself, though.

    Jon
     
  15. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    The problem is that printing papers are not perfectly flat. There is often a bit of upward curl on the emulsion side. It occurs to me that giving the paper neg a little curl the opposite direction might be helpful... if the edges/corners rather than the center of the negative are in contact with the printing paper when setting the glass, there would possibly be less risk of movement.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 28, 2009
  16. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member

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    That is why you use felt or foam on the bottom.
     
  17. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    Tom,

    Gradually we are giving you reasons why printing frames are so attractive. If you go this route I would suggest an 8x10 frame which leaves room for the 5x7 paper and some moving around. I have gotten two different sizes from Bostick & Sullivan that I like (8x10 for 4x5 negs and 11x14 for 8x10 negs). Our friend Bill Schwab built the one I have for 7x17. My guess is that he is a little busy with other things now, but you never know. Be sure to find one with strong springs on the back or you end up no better than just the glass.

    John Powers
     
  18. Joe VanCleave

    Joe VanCleave Member

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    I use a sheet of black craft foam under the sandwich, smaller slightly than the contact glass itself. Then I place the print paper face-up on the sheet of foam. Then I place the paper negative (RC paper) face down, centered as well as I can on the print paper. There's usually some curl to the paper negative, so it's hard to center the negative properly at first. Next, I place the sheet of glass over the sandwich, then with little or no pressure on the glass I move it laterally, which has the effect of sliding the upper paper negative against the lower print paper, enabling me to fine tune the alignment of both. Then I apply full pressure on the glass and hit the switch for the printing light source.

    I think the black craft foam helps the lower print paper to stay put while the upper paper negative is permitted to move.

    ~Joe
     
  19. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    yup, works well ...
    and it is FREE
     
  20. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I agree with many of those suggestions. I do it like this: tape the negative to the glass after removing dust from the negative and glass. Use foam that is dark gray or black. Set the paper on the foam. Then you should be able to see well enough line it up reasonably well by moving the glass. Unless you are printing thin negatives at less than MIN-TIME-FOR-MAX-BLACK the clear tape should not show up in the prints.
     
  21. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    Thanks, IC (and others)

    To be clear, the issue is not the printing paper moving on the easel, it is the negative (in this case a paper negative) squirreling around on top of the sandwich when I try to set the glass. In general, I'm not out that much, but when you are trying for that "perfect" contact print, any misalignment is too much. I think, in additon to a healthy felt/foam backing, I'll be trying a variation of the tape technique soon. For now, I think I'll skip the "wet paper" tecnique.

    This may all be academic in a week or so... I'm checking out a 4x5 Besseler in the next few days. It may find its way to my studio. :smile:

    Still... there is something to be said for those sexy 4x5 contacts I've been working on.

    Cheers,
     
  22. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Try a glue stick. Use a dab on the corners of the neg & align on the paper. I think 3M has something like they use on th PostIt sticky note.
     
  23. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    the other thing you can do is flatten your paper negative under
    something/s that are heavy ... books, sheets of glass &C .. or
    if you have a drymount press that is good too :wink:
    then you just put your flat paper on the unexposed paper
    and have no problems at all ...
    some people use rc paper for paper negatives
    i wonder if they have this trouble too ...

    i wouldn't use glue stick or tape ...
    it seems like something that had the potential to cause trouble