World's Worst Printer!!
Sheesh, I'm getting discouraged in the darkroom! It seems I've been able to deliver a few quality prints over the course of more than 40 years of casual darkroom learning and use......BUT,
More often than not, lately, I've done my test strips, adjusted the variable contrast, re-adjusted contrast & exposure, test print an 8X10, deposit in the circular file, repeat ad nauseum at $1 a throw. Pricey and FRUSTRATING!!!
Dump the chemistry...plan to try again the next day.
Granted, I've spent 7/8 of the mentioned time behind the camera, and obtain great negs (good exposure & developement, contrasty, detailed); but DAMNED if I can get a print I'm happy with lately!! My exposure times are stretching to the 2 minute mark (including dodging/burning) for a full framed
8X8 with a 2 1/4 neg and a 75mm lens @ f8. I bought a bunch of cheap halogen bulbs for replacement in my enlarger....can they go dim before they burn out? Or is it my impatience? Seems to me I remember 30 second exposures for the same sized print. Comments?
Can't get a grip on contrast, exposure...Jeeze, this is befuddling me!!
Why be frustrated with such things when there is good light to shoot with. Just let it go for a few weeks/months... winter printing season is approaching
What kind of enlarger?
When the power supply failed on mine, I suddenly went from exposures of 10 seconds to 30 seconds or more and a good bit of similar frustration. Another possiblity is corrosion in the lamp socket or other bad connections.
I'm with Keith, but I might suggest doing something radical like Lith printing or toning with something new and let go of the control issues with timing and exposures. Go for the accidents and surprises to tickle the creative bone. The other thing that helps me when I'm not getting the results I want is to go back to doing something I know I'll get predictable outcomes with and start over. Like Keith mentioned, winter printing season is approaching, experiment with something new and go back to having fun, life is to short to sweat the small stuff...and it's all small stuff.
What paper and developer combo?..Evan Clarke
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sounds like you have the wrong bulbs for the enlarger.
typically at f8 at the size you are mentioning I am between 8-15 seconds.
I would put in proper bulbs for the enlarger first.
Second , I have found that trying to hard in the darkroom can lead to frustrating results. Evaluate the negatives a bit more on a light table, consider the range of the negative , its overall density, the amount of base plus fog density on the edges of the neg and make a guess and see how close you are .
Do this every time you put in a negative to print and slowly let your eyes/mind become your guide for exposure development.
Watch the print emerge from the dev, see what areas come up first , see what areas are not coming up, by doing this you will start getting a handle of the contrast issues and where you will need dodging and burning.
Try to keep all your moves simple and repeatable, keep working until you have a reasonable print, then do two prints that are totally different by either adjusting the contrast or density..
The next day you should look at the three finals and judge how that paticular neg behaved in the chemicals and how the prints look when dry.
I think a lot of printers make things way too difficult for themselves and are reaching out for combinations that will improve their work , when really all you are doing is laying down tone on a piece of sensitized paper that is eager to recieve those tones.
I encourage you to pay more attention to the easel, dev tray and fix tray , by watching and keeping everything in your workflow constant*time , temp, chems* you will over a period of a few sessions start seeing better in the darkroom.
Something I have always seen in a darkroom when I have people printing with me , is the randomness of how they select what negatives and when.
Most photographers want to print what they think are the best images first and during a session hop around alot from image to image if things are not working well. Or select a totally different negative for the second print. This really is a time killer as always the first print is the lead in for your whole day and if you think about it , its like a chef preparing for one meal and then immediately changing to a different meal which requires a whole set of different steps.
** when I print shows I will typically take in 6-12 negatives with me for a days printing, large prints less small prints more, I will then put all the negatives on a light box and pick the image I think most represents the show I am printing. Once I have finished this negative and print I put the finished negative on the light box again and look for the negative that looks most like the first* lighting,density,contrast*
I follow this through the day and the workflow is smooth and comfortable.
At the end of the day I have either completed all the negs or have some left over. Next day I add more negs to the mix to continue on with the project.
When I am printing for a photographer who is in the darkroom , I try to do the same thing , but it always boils down to two negs into the day the photographer gets antsy and wants to see different negs than a natural progression and this is why I charge by the hour rather by the neg if the photographer is in the room because these major negative changes create havoc as they are sometimes completely different and require a complete set up change. To me this is crazy and why I want to be paid for the photographers impatience.
I hope the above does not sound too crazy but I have found keeping it very simple and repeatable, and moving from common negatives will make your work a lot more repeatable, better quality , less waste and most important , allows you to have fun in the darkroom , rather than frustration.
Originally Posted by jolefler
Bob Carnie, I'm reading this thread with somewhat similar frustrations and your suggestions sound great. Thanks.
Don't know if this is relevent, but when I was silver gelatin printing (16x20 from 4x5 negs), I was often emotionally let down by my work print. The image I had in my mind did not match the work print (which was made to determine the basic exposure and contrast). But I would push on and as I worked with the negative, often burning in for 5, 10 or more minutes -- sculpting the image with light, the image I remembered would start to appear and the love for the image would reignite.
So I guess I am saying, don't give up too soon on an image.
At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.
My Beseler 23C takes a 74 Watt bulb. I have not had a problem with the bulb not being bright enough.
Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time
Interestingly the OP doesn't mention the wattage only the lens(75mm) and aperture. My Durst 605 has a 75W bulb which is less than the 100W specified but prints are less than 20 secs.
Originally Posted by Sirius Glass
If the bulb contacts are arcing and in the past mine have they can and should be cleaned. If the bulb is on its way out or the contacts are arcing the OP should see the light fluctuating if he watches the exposure. Faced with fluctuating light strength he'll never get a good prints.