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  1. #1
    Stephanie Brim's Avatar
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    Enlarger on the way! Now for questions...

    I will soon have an enlarger on the way from a guy who doesn't need it anymore, finally. This is an exciting prospect for me. I'll get to print. Being a first time printer, I'm not sure of a few things. So questions.

    Would starting with a 5x7 variable contrast paper be okay? I'm wanting to save some funds on the paper and a 250 sheet box is $30 at Freestyle. That should be enough to learn on.

    As a beginner, should I go with Dektol? Are there any good liquid concentrate developers for beginners? Being pregnant, I'd like to avoid powders as much as possible for the next four months, but I can always have Adam mix it up for me.

    Also, since I'm pregnant, I'm more worried about exposure. Probably more than I have to be, but I want to be cautious. I'm thinking of having Adam help me by doing the actual developing of the prints with me just standing and watching him. We'll be in a well ventilated area so I'm not worried about that, but getting any chemical on my skin is something I don't want to do.

    Any advice would be appreciated.
    No idea what's going to happen next, but I'm hoping it involves being wrist deep in chemicals come the weekend.

  2. #2
    Stephanie Brim's Avatar
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    Oh, and one more thing.

    We want to send out birth announcements with a photo of our baby. I'm going to take the photo and, hopefully, do the printing on Ilford Postcard paper. I figure that since it's available I may as well use it. Any idea if I can pick it up in Iowa, or am I going to have to special order?
    No idea what's going to happen next, but I'm hoping it involves being wrist deep in chemicals come the weekend.

  3. #3
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    5x7 is just as fine as any size to start. It will most definitely be less expensive.

    Dektol is fine. Ilford Multigrade would be another one. Kodak has some liquid concentrates that are fine too. It doesn't really matter all that much.

    When I started printing, I followed Michael Smith's advice and printed one sheet knowingly too dark, another knowingly too light (takes a couple of sheets to figure out what too dark and too light is), and judge the work print exposure from that. After you get a good exposure, you select what grade you want to print at (sometimes you have to compensate for switching grades). I felt that this was a good method for learning to judge negatives before I print them.
    Other people will probably advice you to make test strips, which is a fine method as well.
    When you're comfortable making a decent work print, you can start experimenting with dodging and/or burning. For that I have used an opaque sheet of paper that is flexible; flexible so I can bend it and form round shapes along with having a straight edge. That's for burning.
    As far as exposure to chemistry, I would say that as long as you wear nitrile gloves, have ventilation sucking the chemistry fumes away from you, while you have a fresh air intake in the other end of the room, creating a negative pressure above your chemistry trays, will help you a lot.
    But I've never been pregnant, so I can of course not guarantee this use of ventilation...

    Have fun! It's when the printing begins that photography comes full cycle, and the effects of different films and film developers become fully apparent.

    - Thomas
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  4. #4
    DBP
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    I've been using either the Ilford Multigrade or Agfa Neutol for a while because they come as liquids. Both work fine.

  5. #5
    mjs
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    After 250 prints, you ought to be well on your way to being a darn fine printer! 5x7 works as well as anything: for 35mm I rarely print any larger as my pictures seem to fall apart if I go much larger than about 6" x 8". It's a personal preference thing: I've never cared for mural sized prints.

    Dektol is a perfectly good print developer. Personally, I'd go with whatever is easy for you to get. In my area, everyone carries Kodak chemistry so that's what I use. If they carried Ilford, I'd use that. It's more a matter of learning to use it than of being these huge differences between chemicals.

    For prints, there's no reason why you can't use tongs to handle the prints. I like cheap bamboo tongs; they're also made in plastic and stainless steel. I believe that my bamboo tongs cost less than $4 for a set of 2 (one for developer, one for stop and fixer.) You don't need to touch the chemicals at all and with reasonable ventilation you won't be breathing it, either. Using nitrile gloves for backup and a plastic apron to keep splashes off your clothes and you ought to be nearly impervious. Standing beside your man as he does the dirty work -- priceless! Don't forget to scan & post pictures for us, too!

    mjs

  6. #6

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    I use dektol, but the ones that come in liquid concentrate are easier to mix, and you avoid the possibility of inhaling the dust.

    I also use a fair amount of Ilford postcard stock, good stuff, and as good as anything to practice on too - one thing though, the RC coating makes it difficult to write on. The most effective thing that I have found is a fine point sharpie - for things like invitations I make up stickers with mailing labels and just stick them on.

  7. #7

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    Dear Stephanie,

    You will have more than enough to after the delivery! Printing a bunch of postcards will seem less of a priority then . See if the local minilab will make b&w cards from color print film and have bunch of those printed. Save the handmade cards for after you've caught your breath!

    Neal Wydra

  8. #8
    Akki14's Avatar
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    I use washing up/dishwashing gloves. They're easier for handling prints than tongs (never got the hang of those tongs, I keep trying too!). Just make sure you either rinse or swish your fingertips in each tray then rinse the gloves after taking the print out to avoid contamination of your trays.

  9. #9
    ben-s's Avatar
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    I like Ilford Multigrade. It's convenient as a liquid, it's cheap, and you can get it in 5 litre cans, which is nice if you use a lot.

    Go with tongs for handling prints - I've alays been happy with the plastic patterson ones, although you do need to squeeze them fairly hard to keep a good grip.

    5x7 VC paper should be fine, provided that you have the VC filters (or a VC or colour head) to go with them.

    I think you should be OK as regards exposure if you are in a well ventilated area. The old printers used to rub prints in the developer with their bare hands to bring areas out further. While this isn't recommended, it does show that the basic b&w chemistry is fairly benign.
    Keep a towel handy, and you should be fine.

    Good luck, and I'm sure you'll really enjoy the darkroom work. It's really magic seeing your first print appear on the paper!
    Lens caps and cable releases can become invisible at will. :D

  10. #10
    Gay Larson's Avatar
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    5X7 will do well for everything except contact sheets. You'll need 8X10 for those. Good luck, I know you will enjoy it.
    Prints available in the APUG GAllery
    www.gaylarsonphotography.com

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