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  1. #1
    Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Paper and developer recommendation for first timer?

    I'll finally be able to start doing some printing soon but, I'm not sure where to begin when it comes to paper and developer combos. I know I would eventually like to print FB glossies but, have read FB paper may not be the best to learn with. Also not sure if I should start with graded paper or VC. I order from Adorama, B&H, and Freestyle so open to pretty much anything available from these 3. I shoot mostly nature/landscape shots and not looking for heavy contrast or soft prints. I'm leaning towards 8x10's mostly and some 11x14's. I think I would be mostly in the 2 or 3 grade range, at least from my reading anyway. I would like to experiment with toning as well though that may be best saved for later. Thanks in advance for your help

    Aaron
    Last edited by Xia_Ke; 01-06-2008 at 02:34 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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    "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

  2. #2

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    FB is generally more expensive, but otherwise there is nothing wrong with learning on FB. RC is easier to work with, that is; it fixes faster, washes faster, dries flat, so it's a good candidate for learning with.
    As for VC or graded, it's perhaps a toss up. I think it's easier to learn the effects of different paper grades with VC than graded, and you only need one paper, rather than two or three. OTH, you need to have a set of filters, or an enlarger with built-in filtration (usually a color head).
    For brands, it's hard to go wrong with Ilford MG IV (a VC paper) and Dektol, they are easy to get, most camera shops that still stock darkroom stuff carry those. Although, since you are working in a temporary darkroom, a liquid concentrate developer like Ilford, Sprint, or Liquidol might be easier than mixing a stock solution from powder (Dektol). Shops that stock stuff for schools usually have Sprint, and it's available from the mail order outfits, Liquidol may be available only from Phtographer's Formulary - they are the ones that make it.
    Freestyle's house brand paper is a good alternative as it's less expensive, but they source it from different companies from time to time, so Arista paper this year may not be the same as Arista next year or the year after.

  3. #3
    Curt's Avatar
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    One suggestion:

    Fiber Base; Oriental grades 2 & 3 Glossy
    Ethol LPD Powder Paper Developer

    There are a great many combinations, keep it simple and stick to one until you have mastered it. Get these at Freestyle Photographic.

    http://www.freestylephoto.biz/e_main.php
    Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it. - Paul Strand - Aperture monograph on Strand

  4. #4
    Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    bdial, thanks for all of your help, here and in my darkroom thread I had been thinking about going with Dektol as it seemed to be, from reading anyway, the standard developer with tons of info on it. I don't mind mixing powders at all and could just pick up a few 1 gallon packets to mix as I go. I had looked at MG IV as well but, like you said I would need to get filters and also, the Ilford line, though I'm sure worth every penny, seemed to be at the higher end of the price spectrum. From looking through the Freestyle catalog and doing subsequent searching here, was thinking maybe Kentmere Kentona. A 100 sheet box is about $10 less than for the MG IV but, is only available in the one grade.

    Curt, thank you for the suggestion. I don't think I've read up much on either of those yet. I will definitely give them a look see. Thanks!
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    "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

  5. #5
    ann
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    something to think about with regard to graded papers vs multi grade (i only use graded papers myself , just to be clear).

    If your negatives are not consistent the multigrade papers may be more helpful, you can "tweak" the developer with graded papers, but i would not suggest you start there as you are just beginning.

    If your negatives are consistent, then you need to use a graded paper that matches the light source and negative. Makes life much easier in the long run.

    I would also second Curt's suggestion about LPD, it has great tray life, and with varies ratios can produce different tones.

    As a beginner, stick with one combination until you really have a sense of what is happening, that includes film .

    There is no magic bullet, just lots of work, filling the learning bin which means practice practice practice.
    http://www.aclancyphotography.com

  6. #6
    Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Thanks Ann I am getting pretty consistent with my negatives now. I would say I get about 95% of my shots where I want them exposure/contrast wise. I've been processing my own film for almost 5 months and have done about 60 rolls now. Judging from my negative scans, I don't think I will need to do too much adjusting contrast wise which is why I was leaning towards grade 2 or 3 paper. Again though, this is just from my reading As for practicing, that is my favorite part. My girlfriend has already been forewarned that the bathroom will be my second home...LOL
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    "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. #7
    PhotoJim's Avatar
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    I'd recommend starting with RC paper. It's slightly easier (wash times are a lot shorter and it's easier to handle). Once you get comfortable (which won't take that long) you can easily give fibre paper a try with only some minor changes to your processing procedures.

    The two developers I recommend to beginners are Kodak Dektol and Ilford Bromophen. They are pretty similar to each other and quite commonly available (especially Dektol). I prefer Bromophen because I do all of my darkroom measurements in metric and Kodak doesn't believe in metric, at least in Canada. (No, a 3.78-litre package is not metric. )

    Ilford Multigrade developer is convenient to use, too. It comes as a liquid instead of a powder, but as a result its shelf life is less (at least until you mix Dektol or Bromophen, they will last for years - once mixed, if in full bottles they will keep about six months). If you think you will be doing a lot of development during your learning, the shelf life is probably not a big issue. In use, Multigrade is very much like Bromophen.
    Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

    A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.

    Favourite film: do I need to pick only one?

  8. #8
    Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Thanks Jim I plan on spending plenty of time developing while learning so I'm not worried about shelf life. That reminds me, I need to stock up on coffee for some all nighters...LOL I'm thinking if it's only a minor step up from RC paper, I might as well start with FB as then I can just buy a bigger box of it to save on $$$ rather than buying separate smaller boxes of RC and FB. I'll take a look into the Bromophen. Thanks again for the recommendations
    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

  9. #9
    PhotoJim's Avatar
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    You're welcome. Don't be shy about the RC though. Even if you print exclusively on FB for your permanent work, you'll want RC for your contact sheets.

    MG IV RC and fibre-based are so close together in how they work that I make my work prints on RC, and then print on FB. I rarely need to change my exposure when I change paper types, although development is longer.
    Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

    A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.

    Favourite film: do I need to pick only one?

  10. #10
    Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Thank Jim for reminding me about work prints and contact sheets. Hadn't even thought of that I'll have to see what I have for $$$ to play with after getting my darkroom equipment and get some RC as well.
    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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