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  1. #1

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    New to photography and need help with printing!

    I was trying to make a print and i think my negative is not printable. This is my 2nd time trying to print a negative with no luck. The print comes out so grainy its awful! It goes from extremely grainy to complete black. I have no previous experience and was wondering if someone can give me advice on how to print. I really think the negative is no good for printing because it to dark. Below is a scan of the negative.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails grainy.JPG  

  2. #2

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    It's very difficult to say what's going on with such limited info. The scan looks ok, but did you have to do any extreme levels or curves adjustments to get it to look this way?
    If the negative is really dark (overexposed), you may very well get a grainy print.
    If the print is totally black, it could be the paper was exposed to room light. Is your darkroom light tight? Are you safelights too bright? Is your fix exhausted?
    With all due respect, if this is your first time printing on your own, you may be doing several things wrong. Basic printing is not hard, but there are a few things you must/must not do.
    I highly recommend Tim Rudman's book on printing. It's called The Photographer's Master Printing Course. There are, of course many books on printing, but this is an excellent one.
    Good luck,
    Steve

  3. #3
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    Don't despair. That is not bad for a first effort.

    Don't forget composition, rule of thirds, etc. The cross on top is cut off...

    It helps when you list specific details of your process. At a minimum:
    • film format, film type, developer
    • Paper (VC or graded)


    You scanned a positive image of your negative which makes it a little more difficult to evaluate. But if your scanner can make a decent representation, you can do better.

    On my monitor, you need more contrast so use a higher contrast filtration when printing or more magenta exposure time if you are using split contrast printing technique.

    In regard to grain, I assume you are using 35 mm film and enlarging that. You will get grain but if the print is black then you overexposed the paper or fogged it. Are you making test strips? You should if you are not. Posting a scan of an 8x10 test strip would get you a lot of advice for printing.
    Jerold Harter MD

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by sdivot View Post
    It's very difficult to say what's going on with such limited info. The scan looks ok, but did you have to do any extreme levels or curves adjustments to get it to look this way?
    If the negative is really dark (overexposed), you may very well get a grainy print.
    If the print is totally black, it could be the paper was exposed to room light. Is your darkroom light tight? Are you safelights too bright? Is your fix exhausted?
    With all due respect, if this is your first time printing on your own, you may be doing several things wrong. Basic printing is not hard, but there are a few things you must/must not do.
    I highly recommend Tim Rudman's book on printing. It's called The Photographer's Master Printing Course. There are, of course many books on printing, but this is an excellent one.
    Good luck,
    Steve
    The scan is a regular scan with nothing done to it. When i try to print it looks like grainy 3200 film. If i exposed it longer on the enlarger it starts to go black, with no detail at all. It turns black if i expose it 3 seconds or longer at f8. I dont know if this matters but the film is hp5+ and the developer was rodinal. I will look for the book on printing that you mentioned. Alos the paper is new and the safelight is four feet away and its no a real safelight but a red bulb that is in a lamp that i was told i can use for printing.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeroldharter View Post
    Don't despair. That is not bad for a first effort.

    Don't forget composition, rule of thirds, etc. The cross on top is cut off...

    It helps when you list specific details of your process. At a minimum:
    • film format, film type, developer
    • Paper (VC or graded)


    You scanned a positive image of your negative which makes it a little more difficult to evaluate. But if your scanner can make a decent representation, you can do better.

    On my monitor, you need more contrast so use a higher contrast filtration when printing or more magenta exposure time if you are using split contrast printing technique.

    In regard to grain, I assume you are using 35 mm film and enlarging that. You will get grain but if the print is black then you overexposed the paper or fogged it. Are you making test strips? You should if you are not. Posting a scan of an 8x10 test strip would get you a lot of advice for printing.
    I think i need the book that the other photographer mentioned because i have no idea of what split contrast printing is and also i dont know how to control contrast when printing. Im in bad shape and need to do alot of reading on this subject.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by R Smith View Post
    The scan is a regular scan with nothing done to it. When i try to print it looks like grainy 3200 film. If i exposed it longer on the enlarger it starts to go black, with no detail at all. It turns black if i expose it 3 seconds or longer at f8. I dont know if this matters but the film is hp5+ and the developer was rodinal. I will look for the book on printing that you mentioned. Alos the paper is new and the safelight is four feet away and its no a real safelight but a red bulb that is in a lamp that i was told i can use for printing.
    I don't use that combo but I believe that HP5 in Rodinal is quite grainy. For 35 mm, try TMAX400 in TMAX developer for minimal grain.

    I suspect that your "safelight" might be a problem. Do a crude safelight test by taking an unexposed sheet of paper and place it under the safelight in the same position as you print tray and then do a test strip by gradually covering up sections of the paper and noting the time of each section. (A proper test would be to flash the paper first with a subthreshold amount of light but that is overkill for your purposes.)

    If you exposure time is just 3 seconds then you need to stop down your lens or add neutral density to the filtration. Try f16 for starters.
    Jerold Harter MD

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by R Smith View Post
    I think i need the book that the other photographer mentioned because i have no idea of what split contrast printing is and also i dont know how to control contrast when printing. Im in bad shape and need to do alot of reading on this subject.
    Sounds like you do, but don't give up. The fun of photography is that it has a life long learning curve and you are just starting. And don't be intimidated. Sometimes it is best to just try something but learn to have a method to your madness. Random, shotgun experimenting is not very educational in the end.

    There are many good introductory books. Check out the book by Les McLean who is a contributor here and a printing expert. That book covers split contrast printing which is an excellent way to start. Wish I had been doing it from the beginning.
    Jerold Harter MD

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeroldharter View Post
    I don't use that combo but I believe that HP5 in Rodinal is quite grainy. For 35 mm, try TMAX400 in TMAX developer for minimal grain.

    I suspect that your "safelight" might be a problem. Do a crude safelight test by taking an unexposed sheet of paper and place it under the safelight in the same position as you print tray and then do a test strip by gradually covering up sections of the paper and noting the time of each section. (A proper test would be to flash the paper first with a subthreshold amount of light but that is overkill for your purposes.)

    If you exposure time is just 3 seconds then you need to stop down your lens or add neutral density to the filtration. Try f16 for starters.
    I will try what you are saying. I was told to use f8 because if i stop down any more i would lose sharpness. Could the 3 second exposure be causing the print to go black before i get something good? If i exposed longer maybe i could get better results. That make sense! the print is being exposed so fast that i cant stop it quick enough for the results to be good. If i tried f16 i have more time to control what the print looks like. Does this make sense?

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeroldharter View Post
    Sounds like you do, but don't give up. The fun of photography is that it has a life long learning curve and you are just starting. And don't be intimidated. Sometimes it is best to just try something but learn to have a method to your madness. Random, shotgun experimenting is not very educational in the end.

    There are many good introductory books. Check out the book by Les McLean who is a contributor here and a printing expert. That book covers split contrast printing which is an excellent way to start. Wish I had been doing it from the beginning.

    Thank you to every one for all your help, i will search the internet for the books mentioned.

    R Smith

  10. #10
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    Yes, that makes sense.

    When a lens is wide open it has its least depth of field and is often unsharp around the margins of its coverage (i.e. the corners). As you stop the lens down, the image has progressively greater sharpness and depth of field. However, sharpness starts to degrade with really small lens openings because the magnitude of light rays refracted around the blades of the aperture make up a significant portion of the image. That is called diffraction. However, the effects are rather subtle especially compared to a "black" print.

    I like exposure times of greater than 7 seconds if possible and less than 30 seconds.
    Jerold Harter MD

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