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  1. #1
    johnnywalker's Avatar
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    Contacts vs. Enlargements

    I took a trip to the Palouse area of Washington State last weekend. I developed a couple of rolls of the Delta 100 6x7 I took with my Mamiya RB67 and made contact prints. A few of them looked worthy of enlarging, but I've stalled on the first one. To make it short, the contact shows a nice tonal range and contrast, but the enlargement is just plain muddy, to put it kindly. In the print of the enlargement, there is hardly any tonal separation in the clouds - just a fairly uniform sea of mud.

    I've posted a scan of the contact and enlargement in the technical gallery, but the scanner "fixed" the enlargement so that the scan looks much better than the actual print of the enlargement.

    I'm used to having the enlargements need some work to look as good as the contact, but this one is so bad I haven't been able to come close to the contact in spite of many tries changing the filter and enlarging time. No matter what I've tried, the clouds (and other whites, like the barn roof) turn out muddy.

    Both the contact and the enlargement were done with a 2 1/2 filter, using the same lens and the same paper (Arista Edu Ultra). The lens is a Schneider-Kreuznach 80mm f5.6 Componon that I've used previously without any issues.

    The photo was overexposed and the negative is quite dense. Still, the contact turned out fine with a longer than normal exposure time.

    Am I beating a dead horse here or is there something I'm missing?
    If I had been present at the creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better arrangement of the Universe.
    Alfonso the Wise, 1221-1284

  2. #2
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    I don't know the answer but have had the same experience.

    It was with a set of negs from an ice climbing event two winters ago, the scenes were mostly low in contrast, open shade, with spots of brightness.

    About two weeks ago I tried again using a pm2l Beseler. Not right yet but I did figure out that I need a lot less exposure than I thought.
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  3. #3
    naaldvoerder's Avatar
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    I think this is a common fenomenon. I tend to print my contacts with a soft grade, otherwise the paper doesn't cover the contrastrange of the negs. On printing a often can do with grade 2-3. I use a Heiland splitgrade which measures contrast rang. If I go up to a bigger papersize, so a bigger enlargement, printingtime goes up, but contrast range goes down slightly. I guess this will be be more noticable with smaller lightoutputs from the enlarger. Maybe this deminishing of contrastrange is also relatively bigger with dense negatives. If all this is close to the trueth, you would need a higher grade when enlarging this dense negative. I hope a more knowledgable person, like Ralph Lambrecht, could shed some light on this....

    Jaap Jan

  4. #4
    Dan Henderson's Avatar
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    Maybe try split grade printing to see if you can coax out the contrast you want?


    web site: Dan Henderson, Photographer.com

    blog: https://danhendersonphotographer.wordpress.com/

    I am not anti-digital. I am pro-film.

  5. #5
    Mick Fagan's Avatar
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    Aerial enlargement, or projection enlargement, is always different from a contact.

    Firstly, the contact will be grain sharp and in focus, well at least as in focus as the negative is in focus.

    Secondly, I find that you almost always require a higher contrast for an enlargement, if you wish to emulate the contact print.

    If you have a slight out of focus enlargement, then that print will nearly always be flatter, no matter what you do. This was one trick we used in a darkroom to tone down a contrasty negative for reproduction work. Just whack it out of focus ever so slightly and the contrast dropped like a brick.

    If you are using a colour head, then try going halfway between grade 2½ and grade 3, that is grade 2¾. Increments like that and pulling or adding exposure in 1/8 stops, can make the world of a difference.

    You may find you really have to bump the contrast up by hitting grade 4½ or more, whatever it takes to bring it to what you are after, is what you have to do.

    Mick.

  6. #6
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Fagan View Post
    If you have a slight out of focus enlargement, then that print will nearly always be flatter, no matter what you do. This was one trick we used in a darkroom to tone down a contrasty negative for reproduction work. Just whack it out of focus ever so slightly and the contrast dropped like a brick.

    Mick.
    Mick,

    That is great info!

    Now I'm going to take a little leap here.

    In a shot with short DOF the out of focus areas would/should naturally be lower in contrast.

    That would explain a lot (actually everything) on the ice shots I mentioned.
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  7. #7
    vpwphoto's Avatar
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    One thing you might have missed... How long after proofing did you try to make the print?
    I find for me my infrequent use of the darkroom I have had print developer go somewhat stale resulting in muddy prints.
    I waste a half dozen sheets of paper finally to realize the developer is just stale.

    As to enlargement effects... do be sure that lens is clean and not dusty.
    ... I do nearly 100% of my prints with a cold light head. I seem to be able to achieve what is on my contact prints all the time since the switch to a cold light rather than condenser head.

  8. #8
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    If your enlargements don't match your contact prints there is a technical problem at hand. Check for lens flare, inadequate negative masking, enlarger head light leak, improper aperture, dirty or damaged under-lens filter, bad safelight, dirty or damaged lens surfaces etc. Remember things like enlarger head light leaks and foggy lenses have no effect on contact prints made under the enlarger etc.
    Last edited by ic-racer; 05-14-2011 at 11:01 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  9. #9
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Ic-racer,

    I think in my case it was purely the out of focus background leading me astray. Made me think I needed more exposure than I really did.

    Good lesson to learn about judging negs for printing.
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  10. #10

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    I missed if this was mentioned. Condenser or diffusion enlarger?

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