The clue is .5 grade with #2 setting. Your neg is severely under developed. Calibrate your printing to #2 filter or no filter, they are the same or very close. Keep increasing the developing time until you get a proper black and proper white of the step wedge with no burning or dodging. Must be a straight print.
Do not save diluted paper developer more than 4 hours or you get weak contrast.
one sheet of 4x5 or 6 exposures on 35mm film, 12", is all you need. Ok to dry with a hair dryer for this test only.
I normally print to get blacks correct and then look at the whites. If they are grey, they need more density which you get from longer development. If the first two white steps do not have clear separation,there is too much contrast.Cut development time.
The two darkest steps must show separation also. This is controlled by exposure. If they do not separate, the neg is under exposed. If they separate on the neg, but not on the print, then the print is exposed too long. Get exposure correct first, then work the time to get highlights correct.
No matter what anyones development chart tells you, you must establish your own time.
A fogged up enlarger lens will make a muddy print. Turn on enlarger light and look up. The lens should look clear.
This is basic expose for shadows ,develop for highlights. All photography hinges on this and you can not compensate more paper contrast for not enough development and get a great print . There is no substitute for not going thru this exercise. Plus you will learn a bunch.
I have been calibrating this way for 50 years now and it translates to a real subject very well.
Hi Ronald Moravec,
Thanks for offering some good general advice for things worth checking.
To catch you up to speed, Matthias used a 21-step Stouffer test strip, and also used no filter.
This takes the negative, filters and optics out of the situation.
We're all looking forward to the next tests which I'm confident will prove successful.
Maybe you meant your "paper" is severely under developed! That's the best guess.
Originally Posted by Ronald Moravec
I don't calibrate my negative exposure and development, but they are certainly not severly under- or over-exposed/developed. I'm using good old D76 with recommended times which should at least result in printable negs at more or less normal grades. :)
But as Bill mentioned: I got myself a step wedge because i don't have calibrated negatives for testing purposes.