Thanks Pentaxuser, I'll check the wattage of the bulb to make sure it is correct. I checked the negative again and whilst I think it is a bit thin, I still think it is a reasonably exposed/developed image. You can see a poor quality digi cam shot here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1938344/20120716_220037.jpg It is held against white paper which probably makes it look a little denser, but hopefully you can see that there should be a usable image there.
As the enlarger is new to me, I checked all the lenses (it came with four) and put this one on for the printing session. It definitely stops down correctly and you can see the change in illumination as it does so.
I am also sure that I didn't leave it on f4. This Schneider lens has a useful leaver which allows you to easily flick between wide open and your chosen f-stop for focusing and after leaving it wide open at least once during my training course, I definitely checked that it was set back to the correct f-stop. I'm wondering if it is the wrong bulb.
If it is, are enlarger bulbs still easily available?
Until you can get an exposure that gives you a "reasonable print" it will be difficult to judge how thin the neg is and thin negs can be due to underexposure and under development or a bit of both.
Is there any sections of the neg that looks very dark grey or black? If you can see practically see through almost any section of the neg then it is seriously thin. If so are they all like this? If not try to print from a "meatier" neg to see what this does to exposure. If exposure becomes close to say nearly double figures in seconds at about f11 then it would seem that thin negs are the issue rather than wrong bulb wattage
Very thin negs can be printed successfully but can be a pain and need to be avoided in the future. By and large following developer manufacturers' times avoid underdevelopment. Under exposure means that your metering and/or your film speed is wrong.
If your negs are really thin then with the next film I'd be inclined to either do a personal film speed and development test or if this seems a bit too complicated then expose each neg at meter setting initially then at 3/4 quarter speed and just over half speed so if the film is 400 then expose at that then 320 and 250 or try 320 and 200.
Develop as per instructions time for box speed. Finally see which negs produce the best prints in terms of shadow detail. If this is a neg exposed at half speed it is likely that the highlights might be blown i.e. almost pure white. At that point you have your correct speed and can then reduce development to avoid over development.
However this is probably getting ahead of myself. First step is to check what wattage the bulb should be and then what yours is.
I think one of your problems is your very high contrast.
In the days before variable-contrast paper, Grade 2 was considered normal; anything higher was used for thin negatives.
I would suggest changing your filtration to yield a Grade 2, then make your test strips.
A proper test strip will show your desired exposure around the middle step, with both over- and under-exposure obvious.
There are so many possible variables, it is next to impossible to tell you specifically what is wrong in a forum like this. However, I am highly suspicious of two things:
1) You said you tested the safelight, but you didn't tell us how or the results.
2) You have fogged your paper. Sorry, but you have. Developing a sheet without further exposure may show only a "little" fogging, but it is possible that you have "flashed" the paper, so that any additional exposure plus the fogging may push it over the threshold and it goes darker. (edit)
Buy new paper and do a proper safelight test
or: http://www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/...7111757603.pdf (page 2)
and get back to us. :)
Fogging does not take you from imperceptible to black.
Originally Posted by David Brown
At worst it will darken the highlights slightly.
OK, I won't argue this. I'm just saying, we don't know enough of what may have happened. He has fogged the paper, AND there may be safelight fog, AND we have no idea why the enlarger may be too bright. Exposure is cumulative.
Originally Posted by Leigh B
I stand by my recommendation to try fresh paper and do a proper safelight test.
Here you go, Simonh82:
Originally Posted by Simonh82
You probably don't like in America, but at least you know the lamps do exist for your enlarger, so you can start looking for them.
I have an 0.6 ND filter (2 stops) that I bought for taking pictures of waterfalls, but lately I have been using it in the darkroom a lot. It really isn't unusual to have short times at f/22 when making 8x10's.
You say you have four lenses, what other lenses do you have? I have an idea that might work - and it will cost you nothing!
If you have a longer lens, like a 135mm then you could raise the head of the enlarger. This would give you less light, and more reasonable exposure times.
If this works, you can save the 80mm for when you are doing 11x14 or 16x20...
Fit a diffuser to your enlarger to reduce light output, because you do not want to be using f22 for printing.
When Ctein tested a range of quality 6 element lenses, the optimum fstop for each was one stop down from wide open.
I use the same lens and was going to query if you were stopping it down with the lever... but you seem to be on top of that... and you have verified the aperture blades are moving (although I'd suggest you take the lens out and visually look. Once stopped down to f22 the 'hole' should be pretty small. Maybe it's not actually stopping down correctly. Once all that checks out ok, check that globe!
Originally Posted by Simonh82
Just doing some mental arthmaatic... my enlarger requires 10-12sec @ f8 for a 8x10 from MF with minimal filtration, which at f4 would equate to 2-3secs... re-check that lens, or try one of the others?