Total noob to printing, need some help
OK, so I inherited a full darkroom set from a friend and finally got the chance to try it out tonight. Total failure ensued.
I have a couple of negatives that I thought would be great to print. Seup the Beseler 23CII with the 50mm Nikkor set at f8, used my gralab to expose for 3 seconds, used a proofer to ensure that I had consistent alignment on the print. Got focus set alright with a piece of old paper turned upside down in the proofer, then turned off all the lights. Lifted the lid on the proofer and inserted a fresh sheet of print paper, emulsion side up.
Switched on the Gralab, got my three second exposure, then went dark again. Moved the print to the developer tray, filled with Ilford Multicontrast at 1:9. The print went totally black in about 10 seconds. Huh???
Noticed that there was a slide with the contrast filter not in place when I did the first exposure. Slid it into place, did all the steps again. Nothing on the paper at all. OK, hmmm. Same 3 second exposure at f8 by the way.
Ended up doing an exposure at f16 (or however stopped down that lens will go) for 1 second, to get something retained on the print after development. The white wall behind my subject was very grey, and there was not much contrast at all. I had the contrast filter pulled out by the way for this one.
So, what the heck am I doing wrong? I know that there is a multitude of things that I could be doing incorrectly, but any advise on where to start would be greatly appreciated.
What kind of bulb is in the enlarger? It could be the wrong one.
Good Evening, Sean,
There are still too many unknowns here. 1--How big an enlargement? (If 8 x 10, three seconds at f8 is fairly short with most enlargers and the paper you're using. Even with a thin negative, the paper shouldn't go completely black so quickly--unless it has inadvertently been exposed to light prior to your enlarger exposure.) 2--What contrast filter are you using for the second exposure? (If a #2 or #3, the exposure required would be about twice that with no filter. If you used a #4 filter, it should double again.) 3--Is the enlarger head set for 35mm? (I'm assuming a 35mm negative since you mention a 50mm lens.)
I can only give a very rough guideline here, since I use a 45 MCR-X Beseler, not the 23C. My 8 x 10 prints from normal-contrast 35mm negatives are usually about 10 to 15 seconds at f11, using #2 or #3 filter. I suspect your 23C probably requires something similar, so 5-8 seconds at f8 might be a good starting point. If you have a heavy, dense negative, however, the time could be considerably longer.
Last edited by Konical; 01-11-2009 at 08:30 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: omitted word
A good test would be to just develop a piece of your paper without using it in the enlarger. Just take it straight from your paper safe directly into the developer. That will tell you if the paper has been exposed to light.
How far was your enlarger elevated? If you have a 35mm negative in your negative carrier and are projecting it on your easel to make an 8X10 print, 3 seconds would be a very short exposure indeed. If you are attempting a contact sheet, 8X10 paper, you might try putting your empty 35mm negative carrier in the enlarger and focus so the edges of the carrier are sharp and at least cover the full area of your paper/proofer. I am not clear as to what you refer to as a "slide", exactly where it is (under the lens?) so it is difficult to determine what you are doing. Does your 23C have a color head? What sort of contrast filters are you using? And are you using variable contrast paper? You are obviously getting way too much light on the paper, most likely I would think from having your enlarger much too low. Try raising the head a bit. And don't give up! Things that are too easy aren't usually very rewarding.
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Wow, thanks for the quick responses.
OK, first I forgot to mention that the neg is a 120 negative 6x6 from a Bronica GS-1. The negative is pretty thin, but looked great when I scanned it. I was trying to print it on an 8x10 sheet, but don't have an easel setup which might be part of the problem. I was having a very hard time seeing the image when focusing with the contrast filter slid in (the tray that I mentioned which is below the negative, on the focusing stage).
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3050/...915c685a_b.jpg this is a scan of the negative which I was trying to print.
I have to check what the filter is, and i just figured out that I had left the first sheet with the focus on for about 10 seconds or so, which is probably why it came out black when I exposed it again by accident. Hard to describe the steps I took but I know why the first one was not good.
OK, also figured out that the polycontrast filter is what is in the slide, and with that out of the way, and a thin negative, why I was totally overexposing the paper.
So, the slide I mentioned is the contrast filter holder, and it sits right above the lensboard, and can be slid in and out. Presumably this is to enable changes to the filter, and not for exposing with the filter out of the light column. Duh. I thought it was some sort of safelight for focusing, which is why I left it on for so long with the first exposure.
I must be using the wrong lens for a 120 neg, I had a devil of a time trying to get the image to look correct on the paper. Lots of vignetting ect, basically the image would not fit onto the paper any which way I tried it.
It would probably help if I had a manual for the enlarger, but alas that did not come with it.
Thanks for the starting points for your enlargements, I will try those and get back to you with some results.
Sean, Keep at it. I'm here chuckling at myself; remembering the tribulations I had the first coupla times around. Hang in there. And, yes, you are correct about the lens. It really should be a 75 or longer. Why don't you try just making some contact sheets for the time being--without a filter in the drawer; until things begin to feel a bit more familiar?
John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA
You need to run this test before doing anything else
Originally Posted by StevenJohn
It might be your paper is ruined by being opened to the light.
After that - follow the other advice in the thread - but most importantly - stick to it - its great fun when you get something good out of it
Hi, I'm not sure what that "tray" is that you mentioned. Anyway, when focusing, set the lens at the largest aperture. That should give you more light. If it's still not much, remove any contrast filters. In any case, don't leave unexposed paper around. Get them out of the box only when you need to and always check that it's safe. You can never be very cautious. Oh, and one more thing: When focusing with the largest aperture you will get the narrowest area of correct focus. That should reveal the point of best focus easily. Remember to pick the aperture you want after focusing
Originally Posted by SMG
Check the bulb. I was using a (factory original) 150watt in my enlarger and getting contact printing times of 1.5sec @f22 on Kodabrome II with no filters in the tray. Kodabrome is a fast paper and with Fuji Acros negs that have an almost clear base, it was all just too fast. I went on ebay and got a 75watt enlarger bulb for $2. That added some sanity to my workflow. Also remember thin negs scan better than they print. Try starting with a beefier neg.