First attempts--paper questions
Tonight, in a makeshift dark room with a sink, I set up my newly-assembled-from-eBay-puchases bargain B&W darkroom. I'm very new at this. Experience so far in 4 community class hours. I have a pretty basic chemical setup; Dektol is my developer, Ilford MGIV RC paper.
Tonight I printed the same exposure about a dozen times in order to experiment with the VCCE filters, exposure times, etc. I'm sure I will get more efficient as time goes by, and I'm sure I wise up and cut strips for test strips (instead of using whole sheets), but does anyone have a good source for bargain or bulk papers? I know (though have yet to try it) that different papers will need different times in the trays, but will I ever need to vary the actual exposure times according to the paper used? I ask because I envision buying a large box of RC papers to experiment on, and a smaller lot of a nicer paper (maybe fiber) to print the final print on when I like the result. If I have a final RC print I like, will the exposure be the same for a different paper?
Thanks. I already have a dozen or so questions in my head, but I'll go one new thread at a time.
Greg my advice is stick to MGIV RC until you are comfortable with printing. Otherwise your going to waste a lot of money developing your technique.
You will need a test strip for every negative your going to print. Cut length-ways I get 4 strips out of each piece of paper.
When you use filters double the exposure times for grades 4 and 5. So for example if you use 5 second intervals for the test strip grades 0 to 3, then use 10 second intervals for grade 4 & 5.
Each paper will require a different time, and possibly a different filter. While learning it make sense to experiment on a cheaper paper amd the generics from Freestyle (Arista) and Adorama are reportedly very good. As stated above each negative will also require a slightly different time.
doubtful , sorry to say. However, there are ways to figure paper speeds vs. times once you have more experience ; that will get you in the ball park.
What i would suggest is that you use one film, one film developer, one paper, one paper developer and work with that for at least one year * yeah i know that seems like a long time*, but that will give you a better foundation than jumping around from various "favors of the month", which can leave you with sloppy technique.
It may also help to take one negative and work on that until you master making an acceptable print. Try not to get into production minded process. i.e. I must print every negative on that roll, as fast as possible. This a very common thought process for beginners and altho it is very exciting to see all those wonderful images come up in the developer, you will learn to print if you work on an image getting it correct rather than print whatever, how ever.
What an exciting adventure you have before you. Enjoy have fun and work as much as possible.
IMHO, there is no way to speed up the learning process except with practice and filling the learning bin. Hopefully you have a good instructor in that community class as that can speed up your learning curve.
Send me a pm and i will forward several sources for paper.
Thanks for the good advice. I like the idea of sticking with one setup until I am better at printing. With that said, I am not sold on Ilford MG RC and Dektol combo. My stash of that paper is about gone. With value in mind, since I'll probably go through a lot of paper over the next few months, if you were stranded on a desert island and could only take one paper and developer with you, which would you want?
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LOL The immortal question As your just starting out if you like the Ilford MG RC stick with that. I always use Ilford Multigrade developer for my printing. But everyone has their own favorite.
check the price for a 250sheet box of MG IV (or one of the generic brands mentioned above). I buy Agfa RC in boxes that size and that is cheaper by enough to warrent buying it that way (Agfa RC Semi-Matt is the pretty much only RC I use other than Ilford Postcard stock). Doing this will also get you to stay with the one paper for a while and learn to print rather than chase some magic bullet. Once you've used the box, buy a few different things and you'll have enough experience from printing the original box that you wil be able to see the differences and not waste so much while you decide if you like them.
They let you have darkrooms on Nantucket?
Sticking with one film/developer; paper/developer is very good advice. Keep printing and keep learning.
As far as test strips go, I use a full sheet. It gives me so much more info than narrow strips. It gives me pretty good info on any dodging and burning that I may need to do. Don't think of it as wasting paper, but as gaining useful information. And I am not in a great position to waste paper. But I feel that this is a very useful process.
The most important suggestion I can give is to have fun.
Long live Ed "Big Daddy" Roth!!
"I don't care about Milwaukee or Chicago." - Yvon LeBlanc
We can have darkrooms, but we can't have liquid developers. Thanks to the Homeland Security, I've been told (though I haven't tested it yet), that I have to order powdered chemicals. The others have to be delivered via ground transport only, and we don't have ground for 30 miles on any side of us!
Something just came to mind with regard to this question of yours. We all have address your specific question but i think there is something more important to work on and that is consisitency with making your negatives. For every hour you spend in the field making the correct decisions about metering, exposure, etc you will save 2 hours in the darkroom.
There is no such thing as a perfect negative *unless of course, you are in a studio and have control over every inch of the film* all will need some sort of tweaking.
However, it is possible to fine tune your technique and become consistence with making your expsoures .
So, don't forget to put some time and effort in to tuning up that area of photography and you will find the darkroom much more fun (usually)