New Lens, New Paper, New Woes
Hi there folks. Here's a little enlarging/printing problem I've been having.
Recently a friend of mind gave me a 6x9 carrier with along with an ancient (but nearly new) 105mm lens for my Beseler. Eager to try these out, I decided to make an 8x10" print on variable FB paper for the first time, since until now I had been using strictly RC paper.
After exposing a test strip at f/8, I developed/fixed/washed accordingly but was surprised to see nothing. Not even the thinnest of shadows had popped through in my longest exposed area. Frustrated, I kept opening my lens until I was at its widest and only after a minute exposure (that's right, a minute!) I got something.
Here's what I've been doing right:
- Used a decently exposed neg. Nothing too dense to make a long exposure.
- Mixed my developer at standard room temp from a new bottle.
- Used a normal #2 filter, so no long exposures for using a higher grade.
- Developed all test strips at the manufacturer's given time for the developer.
So, what am I doing wrong? I've made 8x10" prints from 35's before with ease.
Does FB paper expose more slowly? Are 1min+ exposures common?
Is it the lens? I didn't want to try to a shorter lens because I didn't want to lose coverage.
Is 8x10" too big of a size for 6x9 negatives since the head had to be so high for cropping?
Should I try to make a smaller 5x7" print with the same lens and negative and call it good?
Boy am I confused! I hope someone can share their insight on this, or my signature at the bottom will look pretty silly!
"The photographer who does not enjoy printing probably never made a good print in his life. Half the fun of photography is found in the printing room..." - Kip Ross
Slip the negative a bit out of the holder so some white light shows, and make another test strip. If you get a nice black bar where the light shone through, then you might be able to rule out the negative density. Though I think you should have seen something even from a very dense negative.
Is there any possibility you placed the paper upside-down on the easel (face down)?
You should be able to make 11x14's with ease with your setup.
I can't imagine you happened upon some contact-printing paper by mistake?
I echo the above probable causes.
Originally Posted by Bill Burk
I was thinking face down paper too. Nothing else really would account for that, if you've been printing ok with RC paper. FB matte paper can be hard to tell emulsion from base in some papers (it generally curls toward the emulsion.) FB glossy is easy, but still not as shiny as RC gloss.
1. No. Some are faster than others of course but I've not noticed any consistency in FB being slower, certainly not this much.
Originally Posted by senorverde
2. Can't imagine how. Anything that made it THAT dim would show up. Did the image on the baseboard/easel look normal, easy to focus?
3. No, not at all. I print 16x20 cropped from 6x6 negs, no problem.
4. No, something is clearly wrong.
I'm thinking what Bill was, about paper upside down, or maybe just bad or old paper. Can you test the developer with some RC paper too?
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Since you're dealing with at least 3 new variables all at the same time, why not reduce that number by choosing the first possible cause--the paper. Try the new carrier and the new lens on your old paper. If the problem remains, then there is an obvious 4th variable not yet considered. See that your condenser combination and/or adjustment is correct for that lens.
Tom has the right idea. Go back to what was working originally. Obviously, if you see a good image on your easel and trial paper when focusing, there's nothing wrong w/ the lens and enlarger. Probably the paper either being totally fogged or upside down. You mentioned using a #2 filter....you don't by any chance have graded fiber paper do you? If so, nix the filter.
Upside down paper is a distinct possibility, and very easy to figure out. You only need a test strip, and you can develop it in daylight if you want to. All you need to see is which surface is the emulsion, and the curve and surface finish will then help you in the dark to tell the correct side. Once you know which side in the envelope is facing up, the direction in which the flap folds over is also going to help.
Another possibility is safelight (red) filter in place in the enlarger. It happened to me once. I have a Durst, and the filter is internal, so when the switch is flipped the filter goes in. If you are unaware, the first exposure will yield nothing, even though you can see an image on the board and do grain focusing. Just have another look to be certain it isn't that.
An exhausted developer might also be to blame, though it seems unlikely. It is easy to check with a test strip.
If you have glossy paper it's easy to know the correct side. With matt paper it can be trickier and I see people put there paper upside down quite often.
Emulsion side down?
I was taught years ago to put one corner of the paper between my lips then gently open them. The emulsion side is the one that sticks!