"Is there something I'm missing?" Yup... He said "develop", not "expose"...
But I don't agree anyway! It depends on the paper and developer how long it takes to get a good black. Ansco 130 is much slower to get a black than Neutol for example and Ilford MGIV RC paper is 2 to 4 times faster to develop than the same manufacturer's FB. I generally use 5 times the first appearance time (the time when the shadows first start to appear on the print in the developer). I do agree however that consistency is a major key to success.
Easels are pretty well essential for fibre paper and jolly useful for RC - you can keep RC flat with a bit of double sided tape in the middle though as they tend to curl "upwards" in teh centre. If you want white borders, get an easel.
Serious tip: make sure that you have a spare bulb for your enlarger. They never fail at the end of the last exposure that you were going to make..
Darkroom Tricks and Tips
I'm setting up a darkroom for my daughter and myself (we've been renting one). I'm really new at this; she's been doing it 3 years; so the assistance is greatly appreciated!
DUST! My biggest enemy too...
Originally Posted by kcarey
My only solution is to pay attention when process negatives to keep dust out of them. Relatively easy for 35mm, but 120 film give me big problems. Then keep them in dust free sleeves. Dust out enlarger, negative carrer, lens... and area around enlarger just before printing. Take negatives out of sleeves and put them in enlarger just before printing. After printing imediatelly place negatives back in sleeves.
And after all that attention there is ALLWAYS need for print retouching...
No winner game
Keep a journal by your enlarger and write down your enlarger height, f stop and amount of time for your prints. It will be easy to reproduce what you did and what failed until you get the hang of it. Your notes are essential for going back to an old neg and printing it. Measure your chemicals carefully, don't eyeball. This can be a fatal mistake, I know. As far as dust, buy everything you can to clean and protect your negs, equipment etc. Vacumm your dry area don't use the air in the can. The darkroom is a magical place, hang in there.
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Originally Posted by Bob F.
I've been doing this darkroom thing for a while now since I started the post...
Bob, I actually got an ancient 5x7 enlarger a while back (free!), and it has a border-maker/cropper built in (Four sets of knobs that change the width/length of light allowed past the bellows - very handy!) Between that and a two-bladed easel and a piece of glass (there might be some argument to this, but it's what I always did for contact printing, and works great for my enlarging!), and FB paper works fine - perfectly flat.
Writing everything down is probably the best thing that happened to my darkroom technique. It seems obvious, but I'm not a naturally organized person...also, stubborn. Ah, well.
And dust for me has actually been much better with large format. Those small format negatives are just so fiddly...
Edit: Picking a "revealing time" and multiplying that by a controlled number is a very good idea; consistency even after developer isn't so fresh and temperature changes. Especially helpful on edition prints.
Someone mentioned buying spare bulbs, and to that I'll add buy a "surge protector" to plug your equipment into, one day I blew two new enlarger bulbs because of sudden surges or spikes in our electricity here; plus if you get the kind of surge protector with an on/off switch, you can turn on/off your equipment in one shot, this helps me a lot as I go from my bathroom/darkroom to the kitchen/viewing room.
Originally Posted by atenlaugh
Seriously, think about dumping the glass. It works fine for contacts as there is no image passing through the glass - just the light. Putting the glass between the negative and the paper has several effects. It will distort the image, it gives two more surfaces to pick up dust and it will shift the focus (by approx half the thickness of the glass IIRC). The easel will hold the paper flat enough. If it's really bendy, you can just bend it back on itself a little to relax it. I've never heard of anyone using a sheet of glass in that way... (watch 'em all pop up now! )...
Bob, we used to use glass to make borderless prints when I was in high school (about the time Pentax switched to the K mount). As I recall, with our young eyes, we'd just eyeball focus through the glass and got perfectly fine results (of course, we had so much dust on the negative and glass carrier, it was hard to see additional flecks on the print glass -- but fingerprints *did* show).
Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.
Get fresh air. Give enough oxygen to your brain periodically and rest your eyes a bit if you work in long hours.
Also check your finished prints under different lights sometimes.