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  1. #1

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    First attempt at printing in over 10 years.. help!

    After a 10-year+ hiatus from the darkroom, I finally managed to find some free time this weekend to squeeze everything into my small bathroom for a printing session. Since it's been so long, I used a PDF from Ilford's website on making B&W prints as my reference. Unfortunately, despite following all of the instructions in that PDF (with the exception of applying a filter since I don't have filters and my enlarger's color head's yellow filter dial seems to be busted), no matter what I tried to produce a test print, all I got were prints that were completely black once developed, except for the parts of the paper that were not exposed (i.e., masked by the easel).

    Ilford's PDF suggests a 2-second exposure at f8 of the entire sheet followed by 2, 4 and 8 seconds of additional exposure while masking quarters of the paper. Does that sound about right? Is there another technique I should be trying?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Did you do a good old test strip? If the paper turns black, you have exposed too heavily. Perhaps you're using a stronger wattage bulb than their recommendations are based on.

    - Thomas
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

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  3. #3
    reellis67's Avatar
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    I would stop the lens down more if the paper is black. If f/8 gives blacks at 2 seconds, go to f/22 and try again. If your negatives are thin (mostly clear) you will have to stop down quite a bit to keep the paper from being over exposed. Thomas has a very good point too - if the bulb is not the correct one, you could be putting out way too much light.

    - Randy

  4. #4

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    I'm at work at the moment, but will check on the bulb's wattage when I get home. I didn't think of stopping the lens down further, but will definitely give that a try the next time I get some time in the dark(bath)room. I guess it was late and I figured it had to be because I was messing something up.

  5. #5

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    Once you focused the neg on the easel using the biggest stop for light, you need to make sure that you stop down, maybe a couple of stops at least. It is easy to forget. I remember getting red after red cast colour prints at first until I noticed that I hadn't swung the colour filter arm back down. Such things aren't unfortunately second nature at first. In a darkroom in the early days of printing or returning to it, there are all sorts of blind spots - pun deliberate!
    Certainly a couple of seconds at f2.8 will be enough to blacken a print or nearly so unless the neg is particularly dense.

    pentaxuser

  6. #6
    Paul VanAudenhove's Avatar
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    What kind of enlarger are you using? Condenser or diffusion? Diffusion enlargers are usually slower (take more time to expose) than condenser enlargers.

  7. #7

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    So I'm back at home now, and I just checked the bulb in my Beseler 23C II: the markings on the bulb indicate it's a GE 200 W (EJL) bulb. I got this enlarger second-hand many years ago along with a copy of the manuals. I'm using the dual dichro head in diffusion mode; the manual for the colour head suggests a 250 W (EVW) bulb so I guess I'm using a lower-powered bulb than is recommended.

    I wouldn't be surprised if there was something wrong with the dichro head, though. Moving the yellow filter dial doesn't seem to adjust anything -- I guess there's a loose connection somewhere.

  8. #8

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    Sorry to hear that yellow seems inoperative but the problem as you describe is, I feel, unnconnected to the filters. I don't know how a Beseler works but I'd remove all the filters and I'd stick with the 2,4 and 8 secs and keep stopping down until you produce a print that has all the details of the neg on it. If it's a multigrade paper which I presume it is then without filters it will be about grade 2 so the contrast may be slightly harsh or a little soft unless the neg is right for a grade 2 print but you should have a reasonable print.

    pentaxuser

  9. #9
    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    Are you sure about the paper? If it has been exposed inadvertently, it could produce all black prints. I guess a check of the safelight is also in order.
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger

  10. #10

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    @pentaxuser - Thanks, I will stopping down more the next time I have the chance to lug everything into the bathroom. Again, I don't know why I didn't think of trying that last night... I guess I was too fixated on following the "rules" in Ilford's PDF! (Bad move, I know...)

    @Kevin - Although I wouldn't rule out the safelight (I did buy it brand new), the edges of the paper that did not get exposed at all remained white after fixing so I'm pretty sure I'm not dealing with a fogging issue. Still, I'll keep an eye on that.

    Hmm, I suppose I could forego dinner in favour of giving this another shot tonight....

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