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  1. #21

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    Aaron,

    Keeping it simple is good advice but you must first sample the available products before choosing your favorite.

    I found it easier to choose a paper after trying a few with standard type developers/toners for comparative reasons regarding surface texture and tone, as well as contrast - Dmax and paper base color (some variation of white). I now play with home brew developers for more interesting results.

    I've used graded, VC, RC and FB and settled on VC/FB (my favorite graded papers were discontinued). The characteristics of RC do not compare well to FB, one is plastic and one is real paper, for that reason I personally don't find any use for RC paper, especially now that there are other ways of proofing negs.. That's my $0.02 worth.

    Regards,
    Paul
    "Pictures are not incidental frills to a text; they are essences of our distinctive way of knowing." Stephen J. Gould

  2. #22
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    I am not sure why so many people have problems with fiber paper curling. My fiber prints all lie very flat. I wash in an archival washer then dry face up on a fiberglass screen and when the prints are dry I lightly press them in a warm dry mount press. It isn't problematic at all. I wonder if perhaps there is a humidity factor working against some. I monitor the humidity in my Oregon basement and keep it 50% or so. My drymount press is only 11x14 so for 16x20 paper I press prints flat under a quarter inch sheet of glass with some evenly distributed weight on top and leave it for a day or two and the prints come out very flat.
    Dennis

  3. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpurdy View Post
    I am not sure why so many people have problems with fiber paper curling. My fiber prints all lie very flat. I wash in an archival washer then dry face up on a fiberglass screen and when the prints are dry I lightly press them in a warm dry mount press. It isn't problematic at all. I wonder if perhaps there is a humidity factor working against some. I monitor the humidity in my Oregon basement and keep it 50% or so. My drymount press is only 11x14 so for 16x20 paper I press prints flat under a quarter inch sheet of glass with some evenly distributed weight on top and leave it for a day or two and the prints come out very flat.
    Dennis
    Quick dry = major curling; slow dry = less curling (less stress).

    My FB prints end up flatter than RC prints when heated (stress relieved) in a dry mount press.
    "Pictures are not incidental frills to a text; they are essences of our distinctive way of knowing." Stephen J. Gould

  4. #24

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    Paper and developer recommendation for first timer?

    To keep things simple, start with Ilford MGIV RC and Kodak Dektol 1:2.

    These are not my personal preferences but the combination is easy to work with for a beginner.

  5. #25
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    Aaron,

    Lots of good advice here, and I'll add mine only because I have a darkroom setup similar to your proposed one (single bathroom apartment, equipment shuttled in and out between printing sessions) and because I too started printing at home within the last year and thus am also a newbie. Buy a big box of commonly used/easily available RC VC paper so that when you have more questions, there's a greater chance that others have experience in said materials. Ditto for a liquid paper developer concentrate. There's a reason why Ilford products have been mentioned multiple times in this thread; they'll be perfect for your purposes. RC for reasons of economy and ease of washing and drying. In the beginning, you'll want to print lots, screw up LOTS, and experiment lots, and FB is a pretty expensive way to learn, even using test strips. In an apartment with cats, fur, and likely limited space, I doubt whether setting up drying screens and the like for FB is a good idea. RC is so much easier in this regard and I think that making the printing process easy at the front end is smart. I suggest VC (and the requisite multicontrast filters) because although your negatives might print perfectly well on grade 2 paper, some might look better (or just different) at grade 3.5 or 00 and you'll never know unless you have the option.

    Your negatives aren't going anywhere; there will be plenty of time later to go back to them and use your newly-gleaned knowledge to create FB prints from them.

  6. #26
    Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Thank you very much everyone for your input. It's truly appreciated. You have given me plenty think about. I still have a couple weeks before I start buying everything for my darkroom. I'll let you know what I end up deciding on when it comes time to order. I can't wait to JUMP right in
    flickr

    "A good photograph is one that makes the viewer so aware of the subject that they are unaware of the print."- Kodak
    "...if you find afterwards that you made a mistake, the price of the film and chemicals was...tuition!" - greybeard
    "The hard part isnít the decisive moment or anything like that Ė itís getting the film on the reel!" - John Szarkowski

  7. #27

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    Start simple

    XIA, if you are new to printing, I would start simple. Try Dektol powder and any glossy RC variable contrast 8 x 10 paper. Ilford MGIV would be a great choice, or FOMA is a littler less money but requires red safelights, not OC as most papers use.

    Fiber paper is great for work that will be mounted and kept permanent. It has a very pleasing surface finish. For learning purpose, it is not worth the extra time processing the prints. Development in Dektol requires about 2 minutes vs 1 minute with RC. Then there is more time needed with fixing, although this is not a time consuming step. Washing fiber requires more time and attention as does drying and flattenning after drying.

    RC yields equivalent tones, processes very quickly and is flexible when using filters to control contrast. Many people, including myself, simply prefer the surface finish of fiber over RC, but not for work prints or just messing around to find a shot that deserves more attention in the darkroom.

    My method is to use RC for most printing. When I have a few prints worth spending more time on, I spend a night printing with fiber. These prints then are usually mounted. I use my RC prints as guides while printing the fiber prints. It helps decide contrast, dodging and burning, and overall density to apply to the fiber print.

    If you get 1 worthwhile print in a week or two of work that is worth the extra effort, you are extremely successful with your b&w photography. I relate it to my golf game. If I hit one or two really good shots in a round, I am back for more. If it were easier than this, anyone could do it.

    Ilford sells a kit including filters and 50shts of RC paper that is worthwhile, $58.95 at BH Photo. Here is a cut and paste from their website.

    Multigrade IV MGD.1M Black & White Variable Contrast RC (Resin Coated) Glossy Paper 8x10" - 50 Sheets Value Pack with Pack of 6" Ilford Printing Filters

    *
    * Ilford MG4 8x10" Value Pack with Filters

    * Mfr # 1143597
    * ē
    * B&H # ILMG4VP6G

    Availability :
    In Stock

    Or shop on ebay.

    The filters are 6 x 6 inch acetate and can be cut to fit in many enlarger filter drawers.

    Most printers would recommend starting with variable contrast paper. I took a workshop from a master printer with 60 years experience, a few years ago. He uses exclusively variable contrast paper.

    Good luck getting started. I hope this helps.

  8. #28

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    Try to start with paper and developer which is easiest for you to get. Different paper/developer combinations will give different "tone colours) of prints (neutral, warmer or cooler), but you will find that during learning process. It is easiest to start with same manufacturer combination, because in that case you buy from only one source. For example Ilford RC multigarde paper and Iford multigrade developer. IT is standard combination, nothing wrong with it especially for learning. Of course there is nothing wrong iwith for example Kentmere or Foma papers and Dektol or Moerch other developers, but that can be complicated for begginer for buying, you maybe will need to buy from several sources.

    So, even if there are "better" paper/developer combinations, I would try with material which is easiest to get at beginning.

    After that, come hare, read, ask, and try other material

    Good luck.
    Bosnia... You don't have to be crazy to live here, but it helps...
    No things in life should be left unfinis

  9. #29
    Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Thanks Loren I by no means think I will be cranking lots of good prints/shots. I am happy with one good shot a month right now, and even those I can see improvements that can be made. Right now though I do have 7 or 8 negatives that I'm dying to work with. Still haven't decided exactly which paper but, from the urging of everyone looks like I'm going to go the VC RC route to start. Maybe pick up a big ol' 250 sheet box as hywel suggested and maybe pick up a 25 pack of some FB paper to play with should I come up with something I like.

    Thanks Haris Unfortunately I do not have any good local places to buy supplies. Closest is about 1.25 hour drive so I get everything mailorder. Between B&H, Adorama, and Freestyle I can pretty much get anything so best supply isn't really some I have to worry about.
    flickr

    "A good photograph is one that makes the viewer so aware of the subject that they are unaware of the print."- Kodak
    "...if you find afterwards that you made a mistake, the price of the film and chemicals was...tuition!" - greybeard
    "The hard part isnít the decisive moment or anything like that Ė itís getting the film on the reel!" - John Szarkowski

  10. #30
    Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Well, I ended up scoring some paper on Ebay for cheap. Got 3 boxes of 8x10 Ilfospeed Glossy. 1 box of Grade 2 with ~75 sheets, 1 box of Grade 3 with only maybe 15 sheets, and 1 box Grade 4 with ~85-90 sheets. The seller said he purchased the paper 5 years ago but, was "stored in a dark climate controlled closet". I know you guys said to get VC but, I got this lot for only about $12 shipped...LOL Assuming it was properly stored, should I have any problems printing with 5 year old paper? I figured for that price might as well give it a shot.
    flickr

    "A good photograph is one that makes the viewer so aware of the subject that they are unaware of the print."- Kodak
    "...if you find afterwards that you made a mistake, the price of the film and chemicals was...tuition!" - greybeard
    "The hard part isnít the decisive moment or anything like that Ė itís getting the film on the reel!" - John Szarkowski

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