Marked improvements! First and second are great.
Third, I'd increase the exposure time 75 to 100%. In other words, double your exposure time. If you look your print closely, you might notice her forehead is pure white.... as white as the print's border. If you like the "look", you might decrease the contrast by using lower number filters but increase the exposure time.
By the way, my improvements were to purchase a Yankee Darkroom Safelight: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Safelight.html
and I used a 3.5 contrast filter.
With the third one I thought I would wing it and not do a test strip before printing it - not thinking that I had raised the enlarger which would decrease the light hitting the paper. I'll get it right next time...
Do you do a test strip before printing each new negative?
Do you do a test strip before printing each new negative
test strips are undoubtedly the best way of determining all the variables to get a good print. I started with test strips, but found that because you need test strips for both contrast and exposure time, it was a long process, and I was impatient.
There is another way, and that is to invest in an RH designs analyser pro. OK, this is not an insignificant amount of money, and you might want to persevere with test strips for now. However, once you get the hang of the analyser, you can get the print very close to right first time every time. I waste very little paper, and for me the best thing is I can have a darkroom session with a roll of negs and print out a selection quite quickly.
I am only a year or so ahead of you - I made my first print last year. It's surprising how soon you get a "feel" for the equipment you have, and then you can start getting consistent results. I follow the Ilford guides exactly and find they work.
I am nowhere near an expert, and the people on here with much more experience will give advice to refine the process, but for me, I needed to get to the point where I could reliably shoot film and get it to useable images without too much hassle. Refinement to perfection will come in time!!
Other tips? I had black specks on my negs that turned out to be crap in the water - a cartridge filter (5 micron designed for ponds) sorted that. Squeezee wash bottle from ebay with fotoflo mix is a great way of rinsing down the hanging negs. I find that working (ilford) print developer lasts a good week if put back in a bottle and sealed - certainly while you are learning. (despite guidance saying it should be ditched at the end of each session)
Another contrast robber is a dirty/foggy enlarger lens. Take the lens out and clean the front and back with a lens tissue (or Kimwipe or Q-Tip) and Windex. Shine a light through the back with a penlight while looking askance through the lens to check the inside surfaces for fogging.
If your enlarger uses condensers these should also get a good cleaning.
Making a test-strip before each print can be a good idea when you are just starting out. You can also look at the contact sheet - shots that look the same on the contact sheet will have the same exposure in the enlarger. Get a fine-point sharpie marker and before putting the paper in the easel write the exposure you are using on the back of each print.
First figure out how to get good prints the old fashioned way. Then worry about enlarging meters. The problem with meters and such is that they will give you what you ask for - and until you know just what to ask for they won't do you much good.
Enlarging meters aren't like camera exposure meters where you can just aim it in the general direction and it mostly-kinda works. Enlarging meters measure tiny spots of the image and you need to know the print tone you want for that tiny spot.
There is a sticky thread at the start of the enlarging forum on figuring out how much to change print exposure as you move the enlarger head up and down. There is a ruler on the Darkroom Automation web site that helps figure out the exposure change: http://www.darkroomautomation.com/su...stopsruler.pdf and http://www.darkroomautomation.com/su...leforruler.pdf.
The ruler method assumes some familiarity with 'f-stop printing'. A primer can be found at http://www.waybeyondmonochrome.com/W...xposureEd2.pdf
Not really. Usually, if I'm printing on the same paper and doing multiple negatives, I do a test print for the first print of the day. Then, sort of remember, by looking at what it is projecting on paper, "well.... if it prints like this when it looks like THIS during this exposure..... something like THIS should be right..." and go for it. It usually gets pretty close. It takes a while to get this kind of "feel" for printing but after a while, you'll tend to develop this kind of sense.
I also know, if my first print looks like THIS, how much of change is needed to get close to what I want. Again, experience tells me this.
It's the fine tuning after getting it to the ballpark that takes lots of time and paper.
I used to eyeball the print in the developer, but you just can't. I put my prints in the developer emulsion-side down and use a timer.
Also, I used to put my enlarger on the bathroom counter in front of a mirror on the wall, but I believe this affected my prints. I now place my enlarger on a little table far away from the bathroom mirror. It is less sturdy than the counter but my prints do look better.
Here's an update:
Kodak T-Max 100 film developed in D76
Ilford MGIV RC Paper developed in Dektol
Polymax 4 filter
If you are working on the same roll of film and you have a contact sheet for reference, once you have printed one image , you should be able to make an educated guess on the next images contrast and density by just looking at the differences on the contact sheet.
Usually, and in your sample contact case the contrast filter should be the same and you just need to change your timer setting. I always start with a 10 - 15 second exposure, this way you can start mentally storing density changes based on the 10 seconds in % . After time you will be saying to yourself.. Damm that image (on the contact sheet) looks 20% darker than the one I just printed , and you will immediately set your timer 20% less on you next test and without changing contrast you should be very close.
Also by looking at your contact sheet you will be able to judge areas that need dodging and burning, remember that once enlarged the effect will be a little bit more pronounced than the contact shows.