I know this has been discussed many times before, but and I haven't been in the darkroom regularly enough it seems as I keep on getting grey prints dispite what ever I do.
The current set up is a Vivitar V1 enlarger (with Dioptic Light source and colour cast control for yellow, mangenta and cyan - colour cast control I am not curently using) old I know but it has been known to produce the right results. Ilford multigrade filters which are/have been used. Ilford MG VC (Light) paper, Ilford PQ Developer, IlFORD stop and fix.
In addition, to this along with the enlarger came a photometer and control unit: on this (the control unit) is a dial control for speed and seconds, when you place the sensor on the projected image you can move either or both the speed dial or seconds dial and when an adajacent light switches between green and red it has gauged the correct speed or seconds respectively.
If this process is followed (with a 3 grade ilford filter in) then the subsequent image is within the grey midtone range consistently either light or dark. So subsequently, I have tried to reduce the exposure time which was 32 seconds to 25 seconds, speed remains the same. This has produced a better print, however there seems to be a lack of any real blacks and the lights are getting darker, in summary the contrast range is quite narrow. This is despite what I do, if I reduce exposure then is gets worse and if I increase it just gets burnt out, so this is the best that I can seem to get.
Any thoughts? please!
Last edited by andyaitken; 07-01-2011 at 03:28 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I have read your post twice, and I am not sure what your question is? Can you post a picture? Or is your issue how to use the control unit?
It sounds as if the meter only gives exposure and not a recommended grade. So how do you decide what the correct grade is? It seems that you are using a grade that isn't compatible with the neg or negs e.g the neg requires grade 3/3.5 and the paper is giving grade 2.
If you aren't using the Y and M or the under the lens filters Ilford MG paper will default to grade 2.
If I have misunderstood what you actually do then it might be best if you describe it in more detail.
I have assumed that your paper and chemicals are fresh. Very old paper and chems might give "grey" prints.
A few things to check :
1. Is the dioptic light source set to give you white light ? If the yellow filter is in, it will reduce contrast.
2. Is paper and developer reasonably fresh ? Old paper can show fogging and lack contrast. Old developer
can also give you prints lacking contrast.
I would start testing by reducing exposure time even more and use maximum contrast filtration ( either filter no. 5 in the Ilford set or by using maximum magenta with the dioptic light source ) . In this way you should be able to get completely washed out highlights and pitch black shadows. From thereon stepwise increase exposure and reduce contrast filtration ( lower filter numbers with Ilford or less magenta and more yellow with dioptic light sorce ) until you get the wanted print tone . Don't care about the control unit during this test. If this doesn't help, get fresh paper and developer and do it all over again.
If things aren't going your way, don't feel bad. Most of us need to practise a bit when we have been away from the beloved darkroom for some time.
Good luck !
Sounds like the same things I'm dealing with, started printing one week ago. So far I have not gotten real "punch" in the blacks and pure enough whites for my taste. To much of the picture is in the grey area. I'm printing on Ilford Multigrade IV RC deluxe with Durst CLS 500 head. Tried to increase magenta, but with the same exposuretime the picture only got brighter, not more contrast as I expected.
Don't know if I should increase exposure, increase development, decrease development, decrease exposure, more magenta, more dodging, more burning and so on.
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I will upload four images two of each of the same subject. Two will be untouched scans of the negative and tweo will be prints of the same subject - this is the best that I can seem to achieve at the moment. Unfortunately, I do not have a url to upload from so will upload to the gallary if that is OK.
Most VC papers have reduced sensitivity when you reach the highest contrast grade. I am not quite sure about Ilford Multigrade, but I think you have to aproximately double the exposure time at grade 5 ( Max contrast ).
Originally Posted by Grainy
There is also the dry down effect to consider. A dry print looks slightly darker than when it was wet. This is a common problem and if you make a print that looks perfect in the fixer, make a new one with around 10% shorter exposure time and the dry print will be OK. The 10% is a good starting point for your own testing.
Is the developer fresh, and how long are you developing?
If you aren't getting any black, then the exposure is too short, or there is a problem with the developer.
Developer too old
Developer diluted too much
Processing time too short.
From what you describe the exposure seems like it should be plenty. I'm not sure about the Ilford PQ, but most print developers need at least one minute, and usually a bit more. If you're pulling early because the print is looking dark, that might be the reason for weak blacks.
If this is the case, try reducing the exposure by at least 1 stop (i.e. 16 seconds), and processing for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes and see what happens. Use the same filtration you've been using.
With a colour head, when you increase the magenta, you have to increase the exposure, darker filters decrease the amount of light. Ilford get around this by adding some nd filtration to their lower grade filters to keep the exposure constant, at grade 4 and up you double the exposure.
I'll dig up the Kodak colour darkroom data guide for the exact percentage later.
Edit: According to the book, add 10% to the exposure if you add 10cc in magenta. No changes needed for yellpw filtration. Of course this applies to colour printing, so YMMV.
Last edited by Bob-D659; 07-01-2011 at 04:38 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Have you checked for safelight fog?
Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2