First time printing
I just recently acquired a free darkroom (really old stuff, but everything seems functional). I have several developing tanks & reels, a couple of DeJur enlargers, trays, tongs, etc. Pretty much everything except a safelight. I purchased a Pentax ME off of ebay for $34 shipped, shot a couple roles of TMax 100, purchased the chemicals and developed the first role. It didn't come out that great as I had a hard time with the film wrinkling up when loading on the SS reel. I found with the second reel I developed that I was pulling the film onto the reel and I believe the trick is to feed it on without any pressure in either direction. The second reel came out great.
Then last night I proceeded to print proof sheets of the negatives, the came out great.
Then I made a test strip and then the print I've attached. It's quite muddy. Does anyone have any advice?
Perhaps it's my safelight (I used the red led on one of those headlamps that you can buy at Walmart).
I'm using Kodak chemicals i.e. D76 & Dektol.
Thanks for the help.
Last edited by FingerLakesMark; 01-27-2013 at 07:49 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Good Evening, Mark,
The lighting under which the exposures were made probably contributes a lot to the somewhat flat appearance of the print. It's hard to comment based on the limited information you have given. What kind of paper are you using? If it's a variable-contrast paper, did you use a printing filter? If so, what grade? Are you sure that the print was processed for the recommended length of time? Are you sure that the developer is the right kind and mixed properly? I don't see any gross errors, but I'm sure that an experienced printer could get a lot more from your negative. The first step toward a more satisfying print would be to print with higher contrast, either with a higher-grade paper or with a higher-grade filter, probably at least a #3 (Kodak) or #3 ½.
In the future, if you continue down the film route, you'll soon learn to process film for a little more or a little less time depending on the contrast of the scene; that will help you to achieve prints that will be more satisfying.
If this was your very first time, congratulations You did pretty well.
Let me try to help you out as much as I can with the information available. Please look closely at your contact sheet. Notice, the rebate area (an area OUTSIDE of your images) look gray and the difference of shade between that area and your images aren't all that great? That indicates you have a thin negative. When you have a well exposed and well developed negative, on your contact sheet, your rebate should look black or nearly black with only holes and edges visible and images well exposed.
What may have happened are two folds. You may have UNDER exposed your film. You may also have UNDER DEVELOPED your negative. You may even have done both. That will result in thin negative and low contrast. Properly exposing your film will help with density (darkness) and development will help with contrast.
What to do....
1) if you have another camera, try checking if your camera is metering correctly.
2) make sure your iso dial is set correctlyl
3) watch for your development time and temperature.
I don't think your problem is the safe light as white part is pretty nice and white - although it is always a challenge to evaluate someone's work through scanned images.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
Your results look pretty good. As mentioned above you need a little more contrast so the blacks print black and the whites stay white. You can get this with a harder filter if you are using variable contrast VC paper, or a harder grade of paper. You can also develop your film for a bit longer so it has more contrast. If when the film base is printing black you don't see much detail in the shadow areas you should add exposure by cutting the speed of the film down on the camera or meter. For example try 200 instead of 400 for Tri-X. You are very close, and i bet with a few changes you can get good prints from that roll.
Oh, yeah... also....
When you put your RC paper in print developer, images start to appear almost immediately. Keep it in there for at least a minute, may be a little more. Pulling early will result in less density and bring about potential difficulty with consistency. I usually develop RC paper for about a minute to a minute and half.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
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Thanks for all the quick replies!
Yeah, you could say this was my first time. I did take a black & white processing class in high school, but that was 30 years ago.
I used Ilford Multigrade IV RC paper. It's what my local camera shop had.
The film was developed in D76. I made sure it was pretty close to 68 deg. and developed for pretty close to 10 min.
The paper was developed for 1 minute in Dektol. 30 seconds facing down and then flipped over for 30 seconds. Actually I think I flipped the paper back and forth a couple times after the initial 30 seconds.
I followed the Kodak Black and White film and paper developing instructions (as close as I could).
The rebate area on the proof looks black to me except where I had my fingers over the print where I was holding the glass down over the negatives.
No contrast filter was used. I can try that next time.
So, perhaps I can try again with a contrast filter and develop the print longer - for two minutes?
I will say red is the wrong safelight color, you are better off working without a safelight.
I know you'll lose the fun and magic of watching the print develop.
But you will have the magic of a better finished print.
PM your home address and I will send you a copy of the MULTIGRADE printing manual, lots of good tips. Also on the ILFORDPhoto website you will find thousands of pages that can help re darkrooms, making your first print, developing your first film. etc etc
Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited
Originally Posted by Bill Burk
I believe a red safelight should be fine for Ilford Multigrade papers.
That said, I'm not sure if your red LED headlamp is "safe." Do a quick search on safelight tests and do get a proper safelight for your darkroom soon.
The advice you have received above is all right on. The best way to a good print is a properly exposed and developed negative, so spend a bit of time reading and testing to optimize your negative quality. Do take Simon Galley up on his offer of the Multigrade manual.
Figure out about print contrast controls (filters and paper grades) and learn to use them to control contrast at the printing stage.
And welcome (again) to the wonderful world of black-and-white.