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  1. #1

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    Gaining higher contrast in the darkroom

    Hi, I have finally set up my bathroom darkroom and have been really enjoying it although I cant help but feel that the prints are a little flat in comparison to those printed via the mini lab I use at work.

    I am currently using a paterson colour head like the one pictured below, this head has a number of coloured filters (I assume more for colour paper) built in (Cyan, Magenta & Yellow variants), which coloured filter(s) would be the best option for increasing the contrast or am I getting the wrong end of the stick.

    Any useful tips for a first time home darkroom owner would be much appreciated.

    Regards
    Jim
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  2. #2
    Newt_on_Swings's Avatar
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    Generally with variable contrast papers, magenta would be what you would filter the white light with. If the filters are numbered, the higher the number the more of that color. You can match the numbers of the head, with the included data sheet of the paper you are using, to get a general contrast grade chart from 0-5. Various equivalent manufacturer's filter numbering is usually supplied, if not you can do tests.

    With any contrast filter, you must increase the amount of time or light(opening up aperture) as well.

  3. #3

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    Many thanks for the response, when my daughter goes down for her nap I will try some test strips using the magenta filters and also have a good skim through the datasheets for the Ilford Multigrade IVRC paper.

    Regards
    Jim
    http://thevdm.com - My personal website and list of projects.

  4. #4
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    To help me get exposure and contrast right I invested in an RH analyser pro. Really, really useful piece of kit. Not saying you should spend out for one - they are not cheap. However, the manual has a useful chart showing various filter settings for different enlargers as a starting point to achieve the contrast grades. http://www.rhdesigns.co.uk/darkroom/...Pro_UM_v64.pdf

  5. #5

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    Ok,

    by using a combination of the magenta filters and increasing the exposure times by a fair ammount I have now produced some prints with a much better contrast range which has vastly improved the quality of the prints.

    Many thanks for the advice, I just need to spend some more time trying to perfect the art.

    The Analyser pro looks quite interesting, would save a fair ammount of paper too!

    Regards
    Jim
    http://thevdm.com - My personal website and list of projects.

  6. #6
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    First thing I would recommend you do before spending money on anything else or chasing after magic bullets is to change the lamp in the enlarger head. These things age and over time the quality of the light changes - The working life can be as short as 25 hours on some lamps !

    I struggled to get decent prints when I had an LPL C7700, and even although the lamp put out plenty of light, it got replaced. After that, the prints had much more contrast and the paper wastage went down considerably. It is also worth using fresh developer rather than trying to reuse a batch mixed from the previous evening.

  7. #7

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    Hi, thanks for the sugestion, the bulb on mine appears to be ok but as it was a second hand enlarger I know nothing of its history, perhaps a replacement bulb might be in order.

    I am due to place an order with ag at some point soon so will add one on for the extra fiver (would be worth having a spare anyway).

    As for the analyser although they look quite interesting I would like to learn to judge the exposure by instinct first, kind of like learning to use a camera on full manual which is a usefull thing to learn. Also with some recent editions in the lens bag I havent got too much cash spare!

    Regards
    Jim
    http://thevdm.com - My personal website and list of projects.

  8. #8
    paul_c5x4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheVDM View Post
    As for the analyser although they look quite interesting I would like to learn to judge the exposure by instinct first, kind of like learning to use a camera on full manual which is a usefull thing to learn. Also with some recent editions in the lens bag I havent got too much cash spare!
    The Analyser Pro is a very nice piece of kit, but it is only an aid in getting good prints - I managed to get by without one since setting up a darkroom. Having purchased one recently, the waste has gone down a little, but the bin is still full of crap and rejects.

  9. #9

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    Have a look at Ralph Lambrecht's site "Darkroom Magic" He gives a set of filtrations(Y&M) for Ilford and Agfa paper and a table of compensatory times( in stops) for changing from one grade of contrast to another. He also helpfully gives a chart which converts stops to times as well.The dual filtrations used do not give full exposure compensation when changing grades although they are close.

    pentaxuser

  10. #10
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    If you are using graded paper, make sure the lens is free from haze and dirt and make sure you develop you negatives about 20% more than what you would if using a condenser head. The prints look 'flat' on grade 5 paper?
    If you are using multigrade paper, most come with a chart showing starting points for combinations of yellow and magenta filtration.

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