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  1. #1

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    Minimizing wasted paper when printing large

    I'm starting to print bigger.

    Started from 8x10 and now I am printing 11x14 more. In a week or so, I will be printing 16x20, I hope.

    Here's a question for those who have experiences in printing big. How do you minimize waste in paper? I can print 8x10 and get adjustment and contrast right, but when I scale up to 11x14, pure mathematical calculation doesn't do it. Contrast looks different and the overall impression of the print isn't the same - beyond the size difference. I find I need to bump up the contrast 1/4 grade or so, and lighten the print slightly to get the "same" print. I'm expecting, by going to 16x20, the difference will be greater.

    In short, I can practice on 8x10 but I will have to go through few trials on 16x20 as well.

    Are there any tricks and tips on minimizing waste on large (and expensive) paper?

    To start, I'm going to use Pearl RC paper.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  2. #2
    JBrunner's Avatar
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    I set up for 11x14 and then use smaller paper placed in a representative area to get things dialed as close as I can. After that I might use one, maybe two sheets of 11x14 to get it dead on, mostly to figure the dodging and burning.

  3. #3
    Stephanie Brim's Avatar
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    Put the head up where you need it for the 16x20 but do a step wedge, as usual, on 8x10 in an area that gives you a good range of tones?

    I can't think of anything else right now that could help.
    No idea what's going to happen next, but I'm hoping it involves being wrist deep in chemicals come the weekend.

  4. #4
    polyglot's Avatar
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    Contrast can appear lower in larger prints inspected closely, which can fool you. Printing a step-wedge will prove that the contrast doesn't really change unless your enlarger is a bit dim and you get into reciprocity failure of the larger paper.

    Using an enlarger meter will allow you to adjust the exposure correctly for the change in enlarger height and obtain a tonally equal print... but you might still want to bump the contrast anyway, i.e. deliberately interpret the prints differently at different sizes. I've been leaving it alone.

    I buy identical papers in both 8x10 and 16x20, do my test-strips and dodge/burn experiments at 8x10. I know for a couple of pairs of enlarger heights what the exposure bump required is so that once I have the 8x10 down, I can go straight to the larger paper with no further testing or wastage.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by tkamiya View Post
    I'm starting to print bigger.

    Started from 8x10 and now I am printing 11x14 more. In a week or so, I will be printing 16x20, I hope.

    Here's a question for those who have experiences in printing big. How do you minimize waste in paper? I can print 8x10 and get adjustment and contrast right, but when I scale up to 11x14, pure mathematical calculation doesn't do it. Contrast looks different and the overall impression of the print isn't the same - beyond the size difference. I find I need to bump up the contrast 1/4 grade or so, and lighten the print slightly to get the "same" print. I'm expecting, by going to 16x20, the difference will be greater.

    In short, I can practice on 8x10 but I will have to go through few trials on 16x20 as well.

    Are there any tricks and tips on minimizing waste on large (and expensive) paper?

    To start, I'm going to use Pearl RC paper.
    tkamiya, you might want to try John Sexton's "puzzle pieces" approach. It can be used at any size but it seems to me it could be particularly helpful if the goal is to fine tune a larger size based on a satisfactory smaller print. It is the way he prefers to figure out where to burn and dodge etc once he's got a reasonable base exposure.

  6. #6

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    sounds like a workable idea....
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  7. #7
    brian steinberger's Avatar
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    I'm surprised that no one mentioned the test strip printer that is showed in Way Beyond Monochrome editions 1 and 2. This is a fantastic way to save paper! I made one years ago and love it. Its not suitable for every negative but I find it useful for most.

    Regarding using smaller size paper to make test strips for larger sizes I just don't trust it. If I'm printing 11x14 I will take a piece of 11x14 from that batch I'm going to make the final print on and cut it up into smaller pieces to make tests. If you do the math the sq inches of paper is all equal so there is no point (economy wise) really in trying to use 5x7 paper for tests then use 11x14 or 16x20 to make the print. I have tried using 5x7 paper for tests then final print on 11x14 and sometimes this worked and sometimes it didn't. I think you almost have to purchase both size papers at the same time, or hope they were produced about the same time... etc.

    So my recommendation is to cut up whatever size paper you're printing on for your final for the test strips. You can get alot of 5x7 pieces out of a 16x20 sheet!!

  8. #8
    brian steinberger's Avatar
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    Also as for judging contrast, it is tough sometimes to translate a successful print you made on 8x10 to 11x14 or larger. Different dodging and burning may be needed where it wasn't in the smaller size. I used to try to make a final on 8x10 then simply translate up to a larger size and what I've recently discovered is I just end up re-discovering the negative again and end up doing everything from the beginning anyway. So what I do now is if I want to print to 11x14 I just go to the darkroom and start at the size. Saves me time in the end.

  9. #9
    Dan Henderson's Avatar
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    I often begin with an 8x10 print even when I know I will ultimately print it larger. My experience echoes those above: it is more than just doing the math. So, as Brian says, I also use small pieces of the same paper that I intend to make the large print on, and pretty much start over with new test strips. My precious RH Designs timer automatically scales up the dodges and burns that were worked out for the small print, and those are usually pretty close.

    I was fortunate enough to spend a day in the darkroom with Les McLean one time. I thought it was kind of crazy when he told me that he pretty much starts from scratch each time he reprints a negative, but I (wisely, I think) kept my counsel. What he said makes more sense now.


    web site: Dan Henderson, Photographer.com

    blog: https://danhendersonphotographer.wordpress.com/

    I am not anti-digital. I am pro-film.

  10. #10
    brian steinberger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Henderson View Post
    I was fortunate enough to spend a day in the darkroom with Les McLean one time. I thought it was kind of crazy when he told me that he pretty much starts from scratch each time he reprints a negative, but I (wisely, I think) kept my counsel. What he said makes more sense now.
    Thanks for that post Dan. This makes sense, there are too many variables between printing sessions that can change the results. Developer age, developer temperature, dilution, paper age, different emulsion, enlarger bulb age, different enlarging lenses.. etc. Notes from a printing session just get us close in the future but I believe ultimately each time we begin to print a negative again we still have to find the correct contrast and exposure for our given variables.

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