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  1. #21
    teekoh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cliveh View Post
    Is the one printed by the lab produced through a wet black & white process? Also and perhaps a silly question, but are you printing onto multigrade paper?
    Yup I'm using Ilford Multigrade RC paper fresh box of 100 bought from B&H last week.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerald C Koch View Post
    Are you pulling the prints before they are completely developed? People tend to do this when they find that the prints are becoming too dark. This results in muddy looking prints. Most paper developers recommend a development time of 1.5r to 3 min. Try a shorter exposure time and 30 to 60 sec more in the developer.
    Oh hmm I'm using Ilford Multigrade paper developer at 1+9 for 1:00 minute as recommended in the tech sheet. But i start taking it out with 10 seconds left and then drip dry before putting into my water(stop) bath for 30 sec. TF-4 Fixer for 30 sec. and then back to the wash for 5 minutes. I've been pretty consistent with the temperature keeping at +/- 1 degree from 20 C/68 F

    I'll give 1:30 a try next time.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronald Moravec View Post
    If a lab made decent print, it is your process that has an error. Old depleted developer or fogged paper.
    Shouldn't be the developer just mixed it fresh for this session. The paper is new too...

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by teekoh View Post
    Hi, I've attached two images from the same negative showing one printed from a professional lab and the other by me. I'm struggling with short exposure times and flat dark images. I'm using a Durst M605 diffuser enlarger with a GE EKG 80W 19V bulb. My print was enlarged at f11 for 5 seconds while using a Ilford Multigrade #4 filter. I'm guessing 3 or 4 seconds would have been a better exposure time but I thought that was quite short especially with a filter already in place. Do extremely short exposure times impact contrast?

    Thanks for any tips you might be able to share.
    I believe the Durst M605 has a colour head. If you are using a Multigrade 4 filter, does that mean you are using the head with the filtration switched off/zero filtration values and using the 4 filter underneath the lens?

    “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”

    Francis Bacon

  5. #25

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    I'd suggest a range of possible factors.

    Pulling the print early is always a sign of a problem - give 90 seconds and adjust exposure and contrast, not the time in the developer.

    The developer should not be colder than 20C as this will have pretty much the same effect as pulling the print out early. A couple of degrees over is not a problem.

    Check your safelight and any other lights in the darkroom (light leaks round doors, red lamps on extension cables etc.) as any fogging exposure can interfere with the light you are choosing to squirt on to the paper. Even if the fogging exposure isn't enough to make a tone on it's own it will affect highlights especially.

    How are you filtering? With a colour-head or filters? Confirm the values with the instruction leaflet in the pack of paper.

    Use stop bath (as recommended by Ilford). Paper carries over far more developer than film and remember that water-bath development (google it) was once a way of reducing contrast. Developer carryover will also quickly kill your fixer.

    Thirty seconds in the fixer is the minimum time at a minimum temperature of 20C. Where you are using easy-to-wash RC paper you can safely allow a little more time and give constant agitation. Be very certain that you are using a 'rapid' fixer at film-strength (1:4 for Ilford Rapid) and not the older hypo-fixer (in either case you would need a much longer fixing time). Under fixing isn't going to help the print in a few years time . . .

    Read Bob Carnies enlarging thread, here.

    For this particular neg, there is tone even in the jumper so you should be able to get that barely visible in the print too. Start with Grade-3, take a stop and a half off the exposure you previously used (remembering to also allow for the speed-change across grades, if you are using filters), to see what you can do with the subjects face, it is where everyone looks in any portrait, adjusting time until the face looks ok. Only then adjust the contrast, if necessary, to change the darker tones towards where you want them - additionally the dark jumper and jacket could be burnt in with grade-5 a little, in order to make the darkest parts go just to black for example. The plain background might also want slight darkening in the corners, for example. Remember that you can add tone and black by burning in, with appropriate filtration, so the basic exposure is the one that just gets you the starting point of (for example) the face - of course, sometimes it is more practical to dodge a small area than to burn-in, it depends on the scene.

    Make notes of everything which you are doing. You can usefully make a short series of prints of the figure, with half a sheet of paper centrally, at grades 1 to 5 while adjusting the time to keep the face about the same tone. It will help you as a comparison for your next test-print to suggest the direction for you to adjust in.

    I have no clue what I'm doing, so read what everyone has said.
    Last edited by MartinP; 12-02-2013 at 05:42 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  6. #26

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    +1 to what Martin says above.

    I'll add that you should make a test strip to determine print exposure and that you should use the print highlights as your benchmark. In other words, find the enlarging time that gives you the highlight values you want. Adjust contrast to get the blacks you want.

    If your enlarging times are too short (and a thin neg may be the culprit here, especially if you need a rather high contrast grade), then stop down or use neutral-density filters to get a more manageable time.

    If you have a color head, you can dial in neutral density by using equal amounts of yellow and magenta (cyan isn't needed for black-and-white printing). This will give you longer times.

    Even if your negative has shadow detail, it may be "thin." This could be due to underdevelopment or a low-contrast subject. In either case you would need a higher contrast grade than normal for the print. If this is consistently your problem, then increase your film development times.

    Underexposure will also result in a thin neg, but the shadow values are not recorded. This results in less overall contrast and prints with gray shadows (not black) when printed at normal contrast and inky black shadows and heightened contrast for the mids and highs when printed at a contrast grade that gives a full range of white to black.

    Hope this helps,

    Doremus

  7. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by teekoh View Post
    Hi, I've attached two images from the same negative showing one printed from a professional lab and the other by me. I'm struggling with short exposure times and flat dark images. I'm using a Durst M605 diffuser enlarger with a GE EKG 80W 19V bulb. My print was enlarged at f11 for 5 seconds while using a Ilford Multigrade #4 filter. I'm guessing 3 or 4 seconds would have been a better exposure time but I thought that was quite short especially with a filter already in place. Do extremely short exposure times impact contrast?

    Thanks for any tips you might be able to share.
    I have the same enlarger as you. I am making some assumptions here: Your negative is 6x6, right? And you didn't crop much to get the 7x7 print shown here? In that case, your exposure time sounds plausible for the given enlarger and light source, if the negative is on the very thin side. 7x7 is a very small enlargement from 120 film, only about 3X. I'll reiterate what others have said: Develop the paper fully but lower the exposure, either through setting it still shorter, stopping the lens further down, putting in a ND filter or a combination of those. A more extreme approach is to intensify the negative, but I cannot give much advice on that, since I rarely if ever need to do it.

    If your negative is too thin, then you have to figure out whether your exposure or development went wrong. There is a multitude of reasons why this could be the case, and merely following prescriptions is not always a guarantee that you will get a good negative. It is easier to determine the cause if there is a constant bias somewhere. Sporadic inconsistency is much harder to deal with. Getting the negative right is where I would start if I were you, but of course that won't rescue this particular image.

    My exposure times from 120 for similar paper etc are around 16 to 32 secs at f16, using Ilford MG filters. I almost never have to go to grade 4 or above, and for the most part I am around grade 2 or 2.5 for the base exposure. I sometimes use the extreme grades for additional burning in, but I am not very good at it yet. So in short, I don't think you can blame the enlarger. It seems the negative is the problem, if other possibilities such as fogging can be eliminated. For the sake of comparison, what are your exposure times normally? (For the same negative size and degree of enlargement, of course). Under- or over-development or exposure can have a marked impact on print exposure time, more so than you would guess with the naked eye, and more the higher the contrast you print at. I once had TMax 400 completely over-developed in caffenol, and ended up with negatives that needed 2 minutes exposure or more, at grade 1 or thereabouts. The amazing thing is that one can get a print from a way too dense or thin negative if you know how to work with it. Still, life is easier if you get good and consistent density in your negatives.

  8. #28
    Chris Lange's Avatar
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    You could also dial in equal amounts of CMY filtration on your color head to get a longer workable exposure without changing other aspects of your setup.
    See my work at my website CHRISTOPHER LANGE PHOTOGRAPHY

    or my snaps at my blog MINIMUM DENSITY
    --
    If you don't have it, then you don't have it.

  9. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Lange View Post
    You could also dial in equal amounts of CMY filtration on your color head to get a longer workable exposure without changing other aspects of your setup.
    Cyan filtration is not necessary in black-and-white printing to get effective neutral density for the blue-green sensitive paper. Using just magenta and yellow in equal amounts will do the trick and give a brighter image on the baseboard.

    Best,

    Doremus

  10. #30
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    Why not just run some more test strips? How bout f16 and 4, 6, and 8 seconds? That print looks typical of a one of my first efforts with a new negative. A good place to start.

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