In the last 36 hours I completed my first darkroom build, and subsequently spent several hours inside it making prints. For the most part the results were quite pleasing. One of my prints has some strangeness going on in the bottom right of the frame, and I'm not sure what caused it. I'm thinking perhaps I didn't clean the chemicals off of my hands very well before I grabbed a new sheet out of the box and got something on the emulsion before I made my exposure, but I've no way to be sure of that. If someone could speculate what the issue might be, and how to resolve it, that would be great.
Not cleaning your hands good enough is always a problem. I personally use tongs and keep my fingers out of the soup. I use three different tongs, one for developer only, stop only, and fix only. On prints larger than 8x10 I use gloves to handle paper in the chems, and remove them to handle clean paper. I keep a box of vinyl food handling gloves on stock for that. Exposing your skin to chems could lead to dermatitis, and constant washing leaves mine chapped, especially in winter.
Looking at the low contrast of the resultant print, with no real black in it, I am pretty sure the stains are actually caused by incomplete development. If you pull the print to early (e.g. less than about 1-1 1/2 minute with RC, and 2 to 2 1/2 for FB paper), there is a big risk of such a result, as the developer dripping from the print tong that you use to remove the print, will continue to add "fresh" developer to the print at the edge you pull it. This will cause darker flow patterns at that corner, as more complete development takes place.
Originally Posted by Anthony J. Martinez
So, always keep the print in the developer long enough to have full development, per the recommended times on the bottles you bought.
Similar issues can happen with almost exhausted developer, and is to me a sign I badly need to change my developer.
Do also make sure you keep your hands clean. If in any doubt you had contact with any of the liquids, wash them before taking out the next fresh paper sheet from its box.
"The nineteenth century began by believing that what was reasonable was true, and it wound up by believing that what it saw a photograph of, was true.
" - William M. Ivins Jr.
"I don't know, maybe we should disinvent color, and we could just shoot Black & White.
" - David Burnett in 1978
"Analog is chemistry + physics, digital is physics + math, which ones did you like most?
The actual print is far closer to black than the resulting scan, but your theory certainly makes sense. I may have pulled the print out of the developer before it finished. At the moment I'm using a metronome app on my phone for timing (I'll have a real timer soon) and almost certainly wasn't keeping very good track of the clicks before I pulled it.
I'll be going back into the darkroom when I finish making this pizza dough, and trying to print this again without artifacts from me screwing the process up! To say I'm a total newbie at the whole darkroom thing would be an understatement. Last night was the second time I'd ever been in a darkroom.
An inexpensive battery powered kitchen clock with a sweep second timer makes an easy to acquire and use process timer. Just make sure to get one with clear numerals and a black (not red) sweep second hand.
To reinforce your discipline, I'd suggest that much of the development time be spent with the image facing down, not up!
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
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Originally Posted by Anthony J. Martinez
How long is your development time?
I use a digital kitchen timer with an LCD screen. It isn't always easy to read (needs a little light), but it won't fog my paper. +1 for face down (though I do watch some things just 'cause it's still cool).
Originally Posted by MattKing
Keep in mind that it could be chemicals on your fingers, too, and I second the tongs.
I use cheap digital count down timers from Dollar Tree($1.00 ea). I have one for developing and one for fixing. I preset the times I want for each procedure, then hit the start button, then they beep when they get to zero. These are very convenient.
Originally Posted by RalphLambrecht
I've got something similar for my film development. It's got a temp probe too. I should grab a few more for the paper dev.
Originally Posted by Rick A