I going to suggest two things without any great explaination, but trust me!
1) Invest in a copy of Tim Rudman's book "The Photographer's Master Printing Course". May be out of print, but copies come up often on Ebay.
2) Take time to get your head around "f stop printing".
3) Use RC paper until you know what you are doing.
Yes, I know that's three, got carried away.
time diff. for Rc vs FB
I have found that Kodak's Polymax Fine Art Glossy double Weight FB paper required 1-2 secounds more exposure than Ilford's MGD RC paper (8x10@f8, grade 3 filter same negative, same crop). Agfa's multi contrast semi matt classic FB required about the same as Ilford's multigrade matt FB (email@example.com grade 2.5 filter).
Just picked up some Bregger 11x14 museum weight. got 10 sheets just to try and I have the just the neg for it...
Last edited by rogueish; 08-29-2004 at 09:37 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: left something out & spelling as usual
Do what Don says. After a short time you will have the necessary skill (knowledge) to cut the experimental time down. I now forget the strip technique and just rip an 8x10 sheet of the paper of interest into quarters (I think others here, Aggie maybe, do this as well) placing the torn sheet in a critical spot in the projected image as an initial test. When satisfied with the exposure settings, do a full sheet without manipulation. I write all over this print, after drying of course, indicating areas to be dodged and burned in the “final” print – it “ain’t never” the final print though.
I love the smell of fixer in the morning. It smells like...creativity!
Truly, dr bob.
Two minor points:
Hope this isn't too simple, don't know how much you've done in the darkroom...
Make sure you don't allow the test strip to move when you move the cardboard or whatever you use to progressively uncover it.
You might try a little tool Kodak makes that is basically a circle of plastic that has varying degrees of opacity (think neutral density filters), (called something like a 'test print xxx' ?). You lay it on top of the paper and expose for 1 minute. The varying degrees of opacity let a predetermined amount of light expose the paper. When developed and at least partially fixed turn the lights on and pick the best looking wedge and note that there is a number between about 2 and 60 printed right on your test paper indicating the correct number of seconds for the exposure. (You can also use 30 seconds and halve the indicated seconds)
This explanation is twice as difficult as actually doing it and as I recall the instructions that come with it are easy to follow, it's also very cheap. I even use it when I'm doing a big enlargement to get approximate exposure times for dodging and burning in various areas. When I'm really on the ball I note the f stop and enlargement size on the back and save the test strip for future duplication or trying out differnet interpretations of the same negative
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Thanks for all the info! I always know I'll get a good solid explanation here & I cannot tell you how much I've learned since joining this site (that's why it says Subscriber by my name!)
I've used one of those plastic things. I like it much better than the expose-move cardboard-expose method. I've pretty much got a handle on printing as far as exposure, dodging & burning.... I continue to refine my technique in these areas. I had just wondered about why it might be better to do a longer exposure at a more "closed" f/stop. I think I will be doing some experiments with a print to see how this may affect my final result.
Dr. Bob.... you know... I should be doing this. I am going to make an effort... I am so darned ADD sometimes!!! Patience! Patience!
Thanks again, everyone!
Kodak Projection Print Scale
I am new to darkroom work, and have found the projection print scale bob mentioned vary useful. It is fairly accurate and worth the $12 from B&H. Mine is an older one that was given to me but I think the Kodak R-26 Projection Print Scale is the newer version. Delta also makes a project print scale. And I have a Paterson test strip printer, which I find to be to clumsy. The paterson unit works off the same idea as the paper strips but uses a series of plastic strips which are hinged and lay down in sequence over a piece of 4X5 paper. I like to do my exposures with the lens stepped down because it gives me a broader range of densities, expesually when the negative is very light.
>>What determines how long you expose a negative for when making a >>print? Does fiber-based paper need a longer exposure than RC?? How >>do you know when you should maybe open the lens up a stop and >>reduce the time of the exposure?
There is a somewhat repeatable approach that may be of use to you.
You will need two negatives. One is the one you wish to enlarge. The other is just a blank frame from the same roll. There are usually a couple of blank frames after the last exposure on the roll.
First, adjust your enlarger up and down to get the size print that you want. Then put the image neg in the carrier and focus the image. (A grain focuser is worth its weight in gold. They cost little and will make your prints sharper.)
Second, remove the image neg from the carrier and replace it with the blank frame. Obviously, take care not to disturb focus, etc.
Now, with the blank frame in the carrier, make a test strip as described earlier. Start with the lens two stops closed down from max aperture. Just lay the strip of paper in the easel and expose it in half-inch segments. Each exposure should be the same amount of time - say, three seconds. (A good timer is as valuable as the grain focuser.) Twelve or thirteen segments should be more than enough. You will then have a test strip with one segment that has seen three seconds of exposure, next to a segment that has six seconds, then nine and so on up the line. Develop the test strip.
Here is the best part: look carefully at the dried test strip. You will see that it gets progressively darker for several steps. Then it stops getting darker no matter how much more light hits it!! For instance, you might find that there are eight segments that darken progressively, but the ninth is no darker than the eighth and the tenth no darker than the ninth or the eighth. Thus after 24 seconds (eight pops at three seconds each) the darkest tones in the print will get no darker regardless of how much additional exposure they receive. This hugely useful piece of info is "the minimum time to maximum black" for the combination of negative, paper, print size, etc that you are using.
Now comes the fun. Remove the blank frame from the neg carrier and replace it with the image you wish to enlarge. Give this neg the exact same exposure that you needed to reach max black (in our example, 8 pops at 3 seconds = 24 seconds). Use grade 2 contrast. The resulting print will show what you neg is really like. If everything is muddy and you find yourself reflexively reaching for grade 4, then the neg is not exposed and/or developed correctly. If everything is crying to be burned-in, then the neg is too hot.
If your prints never look anywhere near decent using this "min time to max black" test then you should consider modifying your film exposures and/or your film development times. Ideally grade 2 will handle most negs and the soft or hard stuff will be for special effects.
If all this sounds like a pain, consider this: I ran one test strip last night before printing a new neg that had never been enlarged. I printed at my "min time to max black" setting and the very first print was frame ready - no muss, no fuss, no guessing about anything at all. In the end, it will save paper and time so you can shoot more!!
Hope this helps. It is just my solution - not a prescription for world peace. Any and all corrections, comments and criticisms are welcome.
I totally second Jon's method. It's how I worked when I needed to get a large number of prints done for an order or a book while working the NAU archives. But I never thought of doing it for my own personal work. There I trusted my eyes and the mood I was in.
Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI
So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004
Thanks so much! That is just the sort of thing I have been looking for! I'm going to give it a shot!
PS - I've read about the 'maximum' black ideal, but this is the first time I've seen it explained in a way that made totally clear sense!