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  1. #1
    teekoh's Avatar
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    Flat grey images - What am I doing wrong?

    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.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Professional Lab.jpg   my enlargement050.jpg  

  2. #2
    Fixcinater's Avatar
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    Is the negative flat/exposed correctly? Did they print it optically (wet lab) or scan it and print it with an inkjet?

    Looks like you need less time, but contrast level looks good. I'd hazard a guess that your negative is thin (overexposed) hence the short times.

    Printing larger would give you longer times, did you try a test-strip at 8x10 enlarger head levels?

  3. #3
    teekoh's Avatar
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    The negative should be correctly exposed as I used a light meter and they printed it in a wet lab. I didn't do an 8x10 enlarger test strip unfortunately but the picture that I uploaded is actually 7x7 so it's not a small enlargement.

    I'm losing details in the shadows and don't really have any highlights.

  4. #4
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    The negative is probably pretty thin if your printing exposure is that short with a diffusion head and MG filter in place. Next step is f16 at 5 sec. After that you can sandwich a piece of neutral density material with your contrast filter (if above the negative). Can you show a picture of the negative? You probably don't have any way to measure the density of the shadows or highlights, right?

  5. #5
    Chris Lange's Avatar
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    Your exposure does seem very short...you can net yourself some extra time by using a longer lens...I'm assuming this is from 6x6? If you have a 105mm or 135mm lens lying around, the extra head height will buy you a longer exposure. If not, just close the aperture more...diffraction shouldn't be a problem with a print this size.

    It looks like a combination of both a slightly thinner than normal neg, a bit too much exposure under the enlarger, and perhaps not enough contrast. I'd go to F/16, and change to a 4.5 or 5, and exercise some dodging on the jacket to keep the detail there.

    I had a similar issue a while ago with my under-the-lens filters that I use with my Beseler 45M, turns out my 4 filter was really giving me about the same filtration as a 2 due to degradation of the dyes...tried a 4 filter from another set I had lying around and it was much snappier...so it may be worth looking at your filters too.
    See my work at my website CHRISTOPHER LANGE PHOTOGRAPHY

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  6. #6
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Lange View Post
    If you have a 105mm or 135mm lens lying around, the extra head height will buy you a longer exposure.
    This is false. A longer lens may stop down farther but that is not a given.

  7. #7
    JLP
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    Looks like you need less time, but contrast level looks good. I'd hazard a guess that your negative is thin (overexposed) hence the short times.
    A thin negative usually is the result of under exposure not over exposed.
    Missing shadow details means that you underexposed the negative and therefore get a thin negative.
    The good think here is that the lab made a nice print so you should have a chance to do the same. Stop down your enlarger lens one more stop and expose for the same time and you will get closer. You might have to go to a grade 5 filter but that will only make shadow details even more distinct.
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  8. #8
    Chris Lange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    This is false. A longer lens may stop down farther but that is not a given.
    I meant using a longer lens will require him to physically raise the enlarger head higher for the same given print size, resulting in more falloff in brightness intensity. I use an 80mm or 105mm to make smaller prints from 35mm negs when I'm using my beseler or Omega because my times are too short at f/5.6 or f/8 with the small distance a 50mm provides...
    See my work at my website CHRISTOPHER LANGE PHOTOGRAPHY

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  9. #9
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Lange View Post
    I meant using a longer lens will require him to physically raise the enlarger head higher for the same given print size, resulting in more falloff in brightness intensity. I use an 80mm or 105mm to make smaller prints from 35mm negs when I'm using my beseler or Omega because my times are too short at f/5.6 or f/8 with the small distance a 50mm provides...
    Actually if the projected image the same size with each lens (even though the enlarger is higher) there would be still 'conservation of energy and matter' so the light intensity is about the same in each case, assuming the F-number on each lens were set the same. The 'effective aperture' is also the same in both cases because if the projected image size is the same then magnification will be the same in each case.

    Another way to look at it: Would you expect to use a different exposure with your camera when going from a 80mm lens at f8 to a 150mm lens at f8 when you moved the camera back to frame the image the same size.

  10. #10
    Rafal Lukawiecki's Avatar
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    Could you post a scan of the negative, please? It sounds like it may be underexposed a little, but I may be wrong. Other than that, close down the aperture or expose even less, and see what happens. Is your paper fresh?
    Rafal Lukawiecki
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