Beginner Printing questions.
Ok so I'm starting to work on my printing skills, they are very rudimentary.
I have some arista multigrade matte fiber paper if it matters. I'm currently reading The Print by Ansel Adams and I have some questions. I haven't read the entire book so maybe I missed some things. I'm kind of reading certain parts because some stuff (like home darkroom settup) is just irrelevant. I want to fine-tune my printing skills so that it is more methodological, I think I have plenty to improve in this regard. Some of my prints are bit muddy, dark, etc. so I'm starting with the basics.
1. I believe Ansel Adams suggests that you judge exposure time by highlight value. I forget which zone exactly, but I am not really practicing the zone system so I go by detail in my high values. Anyways,..
- If you use graded paper from the same manufacturer, then do you keep the same exposure time and then move up a grade or do you need to do another test strip. I suppose the latter is better but maybe unnecessary. For example. Say I determine that I get enough detail in my highlights at 10 seconds for grade 2, but my shadows are lacking, then is the correct exposure going to be 10 seconds for say grade 3/4/5, etc.?
- Well, I'm not using graded paper but I thought I'd ask that question anyways. More importantly, to me, does the exposure time change with filters? I know that there is a filter factor for lenses when you are creating your negative, but what about the print?
2. I'm using a community darkroom so I don't really own equipment for printing but if I use the contrast filters, then does it have to be absolutely clean? Like will dusts/scratches appear on my print? I haven't observed any dilution in quality.
3. My community darkroom has different size enlarging lenses, is there an advantage/disadvantage for using a medium formaat (80mm) enlarging lens for 35mm film. Well the reason why I ask is that I oftentimes print both formats so leaving the same enlarging lens (80mm) would make things quicker when I want to print 50mm. This is all-things-equal because I figured that a "better" 50mm lens is be better than a "worse" 80mm lens for printing and vice versa. The lenses that we have are Schneider and Nikkor for both formatsso I figured that they are both good enough.
4. I'm still reading The Print by Ansel Adams, but is there another suggested book or is this good-enough?
Last edited by msbarnes; 01-25-2013 at 02:03 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Yes time changes completely with different filters. Also many like to use several filters on each print so it can get very complicated. Good luck!
How about starting with "The Darkroom Handbook" by Michael Langford?
“The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”
msbarnes: Adams is a good book on printing. Stick with it.
Starting by adjusting exposure for detailed highlights and altering contast for the darks (as you summarized) is a good way to start. Keep it simple especially at the beginning. You can become a first class printer using simple techniques and practicing.
Ideally, with multigrade (variable contrast) papers, once you established your time with the highlights, you would not have to alter the time when switching filters to change contrast. In practice it doesn't work perfectly because the paper contrasts are not necessarily "speed matched" to the tones that produce detailed highlights. So when you change filters anywhere between 00 and 3 1/2, you might have to make some small adjustments to your exposure time. But the method you are using is good. If you move from any of those filter numbers to filter number 4 and up, yes you will probably need to make a new test print because filters 4 and up typically require a doubling of exposure.
It might seem a little strange at first but you'll get the hang of it quickly. And don't be afraid or discouraged if you have to make several test prints and work prints to get to the final result. John Sexton, one of the great printers out there, always tells students the most important tool in his darkroom is the trash can.
If the filters are above the negative, they don't have to be perfectly clean. If they are anywhere below the negative or below the lens, they need to be very clean and free of scratches.
Last edited by Michael R 1974; 01-25-2013 at 03:06 PM. Click to view previous post history.
If you use the 80 lens for 35mm negs, you won't be able to print as large. With filters #4-5, exposure time will be doubled.
John Blakemore's Black and White Workshop is a brilliant book. Unlike the Adams books, you'll be creatively inspired after reading it. It makes the zone system very accessible without dumbing it down. He's also a truly gifted fine art photographer, and unlike many other darkroom manuals, the example images are stunning.
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1. Ilford filters are supposedly speed matched, except for 4/5 which require a doubling of exposure. They are close but not quite perfect. If you need to bump up a grade, make a test strip with those guidelines.
2. Buy your own set of filters. Any liquid will ruin them, even small drops of water or moist fingers.
3. The only disadvantage would be the smaller magnification for the 35mm frames. For example, if you print on 8x10, you'll find that you are having to move the enlarger head up and refocusing when switching formats, which will take more time than switching lenses.
#2: probably not. Errors in a projection system (such as a camera or an enlarger) become exponentially more obvious the closer they get to the plane of focus, which in both cases is the film. If you see clearly defined dust or scratches, it's directly on the film. Clean it with a blower, or if it's really dirty just re-wash it. This is why dust on the front of your camera lens doesn't show up much (if at all) on film.
Also, keep those filters away from anything wet. Handle them by the edges. They're very fragile and somewhat expensive.
In other worlds he has
darker days, blacker swells.
Strokes that mix noir revenge
on waves of grey.
filters should be very cleanand exposure changes with filtersunless you are going for constant midgrayaround ZoneIV,WHICH YOU ARE NOTi'm glad to see that you are going for highlight values to determine exposure. that is exactly what you should bedoing. this 'habit' will avoid many issues in the future.keep reading that and hisother books. then take a workshop with john sexton,and you'll be all set
To summarize the above:
Basic print exposure and contrast determination is as follows:
1. Make a test strip to find a basic print exposure based on highlight values.
2. Make a test print and evaluate contrast. If you need to change contrast grades, then start over at number 1 If not, continue with 3.
3. Have fun determining and executing your print manipulations on the way to making a fine exhibition print.
You will find that when changing contrast it will save you a lot of time and paper to just start over with a new test strip. The so-called "speed-matched" filters are calibrated on a low-middle grey, not a highlight value, which you are (and should be) using to determine basic print exposure.
It is best if your contrast filters are flawless. It's worth getting your own set and carrying them with you in and out of the darkroom if you have any issues with the filters that are available there. That said, filters that go between the light source and negative are usually more forgiving of dirt/dust/scratches. If the filter is anywhere below the negative, it can't be clean enough.
Using a longer enlarging lens than usual for a particular format will result in the distance between enlarging head and paper being greater for any given size of print. If that's not a problem for you, and the quality of lenses are equal, then there is no difference in print quality or printing procedures.