I take it that the paper for the test strip is from the same box as the full print? I don't know about how the other helpers feel but I am now "clutching at straws" in attempting to discover the cause.
When you do the test strips and it sounds as if you have done several now, does each strip with say 16 secs look exactly as 16 secs on a previous test strip or strips?
I haven't read this thread fully, so forgive me if I've missed something. I think your problem may lie elsewhere. You mention above (post 45) that you develop your paper for one minute, which seems too short to me. To achieve the full tonal range with deep blacks and sparkling whites, paper should be developed to finality. In other words, you should develop until it no longer darkens. Also, if your developer is colder than 20 degrees, your paper will take longer than one minute to develop. If you don't develop for long enough, or if your developer is exhausted, your paper will not fully develop its tonal range and you'll have greyish blacks. Fibre-based papers take longer than resin-coated (plastic backed) papers to develop. With all this in mind, I'd suggest that you try the following:
1) Check the temperature of your developer and make allowances for this. It will cool down significantly during your session.
2) Develop the paper for at least three minutes at 20 degrees, and five minutes at 10 degrees. This is not excessive. Do not remove the paper whilst it is still developing.
3) Check that your developer is fresh; it should be the colour of white wine, and certainly no darker than a light brown colour. If it is dark brown, throw it away and make up some fresh dev. If the solution in the bottle is dark brown, you may need to buy some more.
Good results start with fresh chemistry and correct development. Good luck and keep trying; you'll get there eventually! :-)
Last edited by kevs; 05-21-2013 at 07:39 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: typo fix
Problem with prints, help please
What light source is your enlarger? If it's a cold light head, it's possible the head needs to warm up before you can use it with consistency.
You may try covering the whole print for ten seconds while the head warms up, and then make your full 24s exposure.
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Pentaxuser, Yes all the papers are from same box and on all test strips look the same for each time exposure.
Hi kevs thanks.
Working with chemicals I fully follow Ilford recommendation. I also make sure that the temperature is correct 20 deg. I didn't try to develop paper longer than time recommendation. Before any session I make new batch of developer. The colour of developer is exactly as you mentioned, the colour of white wine. Thank you for encouragement.
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The light is white cathode. Yes I thought about that too. Before I attempt printing I keep light on for 2 minutes to make sure it's warm enough.
Shine the light on the enlarger baseboard with no negative and observe the light under timed conditions just as if you had a piece of print paper there. Turn the lens wide open, hit the timer, and observe the light. Is it flickering, dimming, or erratic? I've had a Graylab electronic timer to cause erratic light intensity. The Graylab mechanical timers are notorious for that.
I think we are really close to discovering the culprit. I followed Michaels suggestion to expose for 32 seconds and the print come out good.
That makes me think really hard about my test strips. It looks like I'm missing one strip. If 32 seconds is right time than I should have 7 strips rather than six. It looks like I'm missing the last strip and I was actually counting second last as the last. That shifted everything for 8 seconds. What happened, I think, is that last segment on my test sheet was exposed twice. As I made test strip I shouldn't expose entire sheet at the end simply because I "run out of room" therefore Everything is exposed for additional 8 seconds. This is what I think happened.
Please tell me that I'm not loosing my mind here. Is this something that can easily happen?
Last edited by SloboM; 05-21-2013 at 08:52 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Depending on how you count it as you do it, yes, it could happen. The only way for one of us to know for sure would be if you video yourself doing a test strip. As you go through the next one, do it carefully and really think about each strip as you do it. When I do mine, I say 2 seconds, 4 seconds, etc.. out loud as I go. On the one that first gets the whole piece (I don't use whole sheets, just strips), I say 2 to whatever (usually 12). Then another hit on the timer - 4 to 14, etc.. on up to usually 8 to 18. I've found that if I don't say it out loud, I screw it up.
Originally Posted by SloboM