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  1. #1
    mrtoml's Avatar
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    Dumb questions about contrast - first attempts at enlarging

    Hello again. I set up my 'new' C7700 enlarger yesterday and got it working. Thanks to everyone for their advice so far. I have ordered a couple of books on this topic (Tim Rudman's book as recommended by FrankB and Lee Frost's Simple Art of Black and White Photography). Unfortunately the postal disruption here has meant there is no sign of them so I am in the dark in more ways than one.

    I attempted a few prints last night and thought I would share my first efforts and solicit more advice. I have scanned the prints and adjusted them (on a calibrated monitor) to look like they appear to my eyes. The first 2 were taken with a fairly low contrast lens (1959 Leica Summaron) and developed using Prescysol (staining developer). I printed at grade 2 on multigrade paper with multigrade dev (no filtration on the head), but they seem unduly low in contrast. Is this because the diffuser enlarger I have is lower contrast than I used to expect from my old condenser or is it something to do with the effect of stain (or just bad technique on my part).





    The last one I was much more pleased with. It is again at grade 2, but the negative was FP4 developed in a non-staining developer and taken with a Mamiya c330. But it is still not contrasty enough for my tastes and as I used the same procedures to produce this I suppose that I will need to up contrast a lot on the stained negs and a little on the non-stained ones. Does this make sense? Sorry if these seem like stupid questions, but I am eager to progress.


  2. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Is that grey fog due to your scanning or is that what the photos look like ?

    You say they match the prints, either your papers old & fogged or you have an unsafe safety light because the borders are grey.

    Unless there's something wrong with your Summicron that in itself isn't the cause of your problems. My 50's Summicron has plenty of contrast, no different to my Pentax or modern Canon/Tamron lenses.

    So are the borders really grey ?

    Ian

  3. #3
    mrtoml's Avatar
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    No the borders are not grey. That was to compensate for the scanner making its own adjustments (which I cannot turn off). I adjusted the brightness and contrast controls to get a rough approximation to the appearance of the actual prints. Should have cropped the grey out - sorry. The borders on the actual prints are white.

    I don't have a summicron. It is a summaron and compared with my Planar it has lots less contrast. Don't know whtehr this should make a difference here, but it does when I scan and print digitally.
    Last edited by mrtoml; 10-17-2007 at 04:54 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: Addition of info

  4. #4
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Summaron/Summicron. My mistake I read the post realised Leica lens, I can only speak of my own Leica lenses and they are fine. You may need to adjust your development times in Prescysol, give them 10-15% longer.

    OK back to the prints, I guess they are just too flat, you probably need to use Grade 3 or even 3½ fitration. You might also be over exposing and under developing the prints that drops the contrast too, make sure your developer temperature stays constant too.

    Have a look in your local library, see what darkroom books they have while the postal strikes delays your new books.

    Ian
    Last edited by Ian Grant; 10-17-2007 at 05:18 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: add more info

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    It's always hard to start out if the negative has issues. Pick the best negative you have for now and concentrate on that.

    Low contrast negative is often just an underdeveloped negative.

  6. #6
    mrtoml's Avatar
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    Thanks for your replies. I guess one issue is that I find it hard to see what a 'good negative' looks like. For example, my stained negs always look a little pale in comparison to my normally developed ones. The scans of these negatives all have lots of detail in the shadows etc... Consequently I thought the square negative used above was rather dense in comparison , but I have no idea whether it is or not!

  7. #7
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Maybe there's an APUG B&W worker near you who'd be prepared to give you some help. It is quite difficult starting with B&W printing in isolation.

    There are some excellent PDF files on the Ilfor/Harman website about printing & processing which I guess you might find very useful.

    Ian

  8. #8
    Dan Henderson's Avatar
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    A couple of additional thoughts: you say that "the scans of these negatives all have lots of detail in the shadows..." What do the negatives themselves look like? If you're judging contrast from the scans, perhaps the scanner is changing the contrast? It might be helpful to analyze the negative itself for contrast level. Second, it sounds like you are more familiar with non-staining developers. If that is the case, perhaps you need to use a standard developer for awhile and get your exposure/developing/printing technique down before introducing another complicating factor. Finally, what do your contact sheets look like? If you make contact sheets using the minimum time for maximum black, you should have a clue about the contrast of the negatives and be able to adjust developing time from there.

    Dan


    web site: Dan Henderson, Photographer.com

    blog: https://danhendersonphotographer.wordpress.com/

    I am not anti-digital. I am pro-film.

  9. #9

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    If your developer is giving you low contrast negative, then develop longer.

    Development controls contrast; exposure controls density. Fundamentals.

    Test, test, test.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Photography/index.html

  10. #10
    mrtoml's Avatar
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    I think my main problem is that I have been scanning and printing digitally for a while, and obviously lots of adjustments can be made within the scanning workflow. Consequently I do not have the know-how to recognise a negative's suitability for traditional printing yet. I have been using Prescysol for a while using semistand development and just scanning the negatives. I have also dabbled with ID-11 and a few others. I haven't done any serious tests, but I guess now I will have to. I tried to test Tri-X last weekend and used my scanner as a densitometer, but it was very confusing and I don't think this is going to work very well.

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