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  1. #1
    stradibarrius's Avatar
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    How to get blacker blacks?

    Here is a scan of a shot made witha Mamiya M645.
    There are several issues I feel I need to work on but starting with the first one...how to get blacker blacks?
    I used Ilford Multigrade IV RC paper with a Ilford 3.5 contrast filter, 14 sec. exposure. Dektol as the developer for 3 min.
    My enlarger is a Burleigh Brooks 670 that no one seems to have heard of before. I used a Fujinon f/5.8 90mm lens.

    I tried using a #4 contrast but the print actually turned out lighter. I also increased the exposer time and the result was just darker not blacker blacks.

    My wet print experience is limited so I am in the beginner learning curve.

    Is this a paper choice or a developer choice issue?

    When I scanned the negative and made a digital print, I was able to get blacks I liked.
    I also attached the digital scan of the negative.

    Before anybody goes nuts, I am trying to learn to print in the darkroom not discuss the digtal print. I only post it as reference to the blacks.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Old-Ford-headlight-wet-print-scan_850x670.jpg   old-ford-headlight2_burned_850x657.jpg  
    "Generalizations are made because they are generally true"
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    website: http://www.dudleyviolins.com
    Barry
    Monroe, GA

  2. #2

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    The obvious difference in the two thumbnails is contrast. I suspect there is not as much separation in the tones in the negative but you were able to correct with the software. The issue is with the negative not the filter. If the negative is important to you try printing for the shadows and dodge or bleaching the highlights that are too muddy.

  3. #3

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    I could be wrong but I think you need less lighting on the car when you take the photo. That would create a darker image.
    I brake for fixer!

  4. #4
    bill spears's Avatar
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    I would say the blacks in the silver print are ok. The problem is the midtones (which look muddy and compressed) and the highlights which don't have enough sparkle. The problem could also lie with the film exposure/development as much as the printing.
    I would try to print it a little lighter (less exposure under the enlarger) and on a very hard grade, poss 5.

    Selenium toning the neg can sometimes help with separating the tones in the print and perhaps give half a grade more contrast.
    Also make sure your paper developer is not exhausted

  5. #5
    Anscojohn's Avatar
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    Try making a max black test strip through the clear film between two negatives. That will show the maximum black of which your paper and paper developer combination are possible. Then you can either expose the negative for the min/max time and see how the high tones fall; or you can expose for the correct detailed high tones (say the headlight) and see how the low tones fall compared to your max black test strip as a comparison.
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

  6. #6

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    I disagree with less light. I don't know how you metered the subject or developed the film. It is a contrast issue according to the thumbnails as I mentioned. All the highlights in the digital print are brighter. A #4 filter should produce a contrasty print with a properly exposed and processed negative. The colors of the car although possibly different in the the fender and the hood may be of similar value and if that is the case they would print close tones of gray. Light meters read either reflected light or if capable incident light (light falling on the subject). When reading reflected light the meter generally reads the subject as 18% reflectance. For example a reading off a white horse and one off a black horse would result in prints of two gray horses. Negative contrast can be influenced by development time and/or the developer used.

  7. #7

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    I've found this advice from Zathras in a post by photomem on 11/10/09 in the B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry forum, and echoed above to be helpful in situations like yours.

    "Use the exposure time to favor the highlights. Once you have the highlights where you want them, look at the darker ares of the print. If the blacks are not right, change the contrast grade or filter to get them where you want them. Do not use exposure to bring in the blacks. If the highlights look good but the blacks look weak, increase the contrast. If the highlights look good but the blacks are too dark, decrease the contrast. Don't forget to make a new test print if you change the contrast. Again, adjust the exposure to favor the highlights, letting the blacks be determined by the contrast grade or filter that you use."

  8. #8

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    If you are using multigrade filters, G4-5 need twice the exposure of G00-G3.5, which explains why your G4 print looked lighter than G3.

    Ian

  9. #9
    dpurdy's Avatar
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    Just talking about the maximum black, a paper is only capable of going so black. You might try using a stronger dilution for your dektol or you might try using Ansco 130 to get maximum black density. A warm tone fiber paper will have a blacker black probably.

  10. #10
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    First off--if you are using Ilford MG filters, #4 and higher need one stop more enlarging exposure than #3.5 and lower.

    It looks like your wet print doesn't have as much contrast as you want in general. You aren't getting the sparkling whites or the deep blacks you have in the neg scan, but you'll notice that you do have more detail in those areas in the wet print, so the task is going to be to spread those tones out over the range that the paper is capable of rendering.

    I'd start with a grade 3 filter and try to make a print with sparkling highlights. Make a test strip along the chrome bumper to find the best exposure to give you a little detail in that area, but retain the sparkle, and note that other factors like light leaks in the darkroom and an unsafe safelight will cost you at the sparkle end of the spectrum.

    Now if your blacks are hazy instead of solid, try maintaining the same relative exposure (meaning that if you go up to grade 4 or 5, you need to double the exposure time or open the lens one stop) while increasing the contrast, and that will give you better blacks without losing the highlights.

    Still not enough? You could intensify the negative. 8 minutes in Kodak Rapid Selenium Toner 1:3 will give you about a one zone expansion. I use this technique often to push up the highlights on a flat neg.

    Beyond that you could try printing it darker and bleaching the highlights back.

    Contrast masking will give you even more control over contrast, but that's a more involved process.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
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