For most people, a basic exposure of 12-20 seconds offers relatively short exposures and much more control.
Don't worry about odd numbers - stick with the even ones if you like. there's really no difference between 14.8 and 15.0. However there is a BIG difference between 4.8 and 5.3 or 6.0! Stop down and you'll be happier!
It seems as if many of you have a lot of time on your hands (maybe too much...) when in the darkroom. Who really needs to worry about avoiding particular exposure times, or spend time multiplying and dividing by fractions of an f-stop?
For me it's whole stops on the lens, exposure times that allow me adequate accuracy (how the heck do you expect fractions of a second to be accurate with any timer?), and time for dodging. I prefer times in the 20-40 second range.
And, I alter exposure by percentages (and I make my test strips in percentages as well, rounded to the nearest full second), not fractions of f-stops, which seem overly unwieldy in the darkroom to me.
That and a metronome and I'm in business. I like simple and low-tech.
If these foibles are what makes cliveh so prolific, tell me more of them!
As you can see, my third-stops are extremely low-tech black dots on the dial...
If we were rational, we'd be discussing the optimum f/stop for our enlarger lenses and evenness of illumination. Then, if the times are too short... the only solution would be...
Make bigger prints.
Doremus is correct. Treating this as anything more than a total non-issue indicates the quality of the print itself is clearly of secondary importance. Sorry.
Yes but whatever it takes to achieve that quality print is, I would think, pertinent.
Whatever it takes to make the best print, not whatever it takes to satisfy some other mental requirement. That might be fine for the philosophy section but when it comes to the craft of serious print making, print times and other variables should be governed solely by the demands of the negative/print.
I must say, Michael, that I truly enjoyed the 'carrier glass' post, so I will differ to you.
Michael, I think you're right of course, but this thread has been useful for me in other ways. I was wondering what the "black dots" on Bill's timer were like, and then he posted a picture. I think of my exposures in terms of percentages like Doremus, but I don't have a systematic approach like his. My test strips are 2 second intervals then 3, then sometimes 4; not based on any theory but just on how wide they should be based on my experience. Although honestly, it's not much of an "issue", I've found that once I've printed a couple from a given roll of film, the rest are usually similar enough that I can look at the negative and even make 1 second intervals around where it matters if I want to.
For dodging and burning, I tend to think in terms of percent of base exposure. It's interesting for me to learn how other people think about it. At my level ( still a beginner, but getting better ) the most important thing is not how I time but understanding and especially gaining a feel how the tones will change. For example, I have learned how dodging my low contrast exposure can help separate and bring out the darker areas on the print, but I don't have good intuition yet and need to make test strips to get it right. And sometimes it seems like there is just one amount of dodging that's just right, and if you miss much either way it's very noticeably not as good. If there is some way of thinking about it that will make that easier or more intuitive, then I'm "all ears"!
So yeah I agree that the goal is to make a great print and not meet some external thinking, but the chatter around that was valuable to me anyway.