First time printing: A few problems.
Tonight I decided I'd finally build up the courage and do a few prints for the first time to get the hang of everything. After about 2 pages of test strips, and a couple of full page prints, I got a reasonable print, but I still wasn't totally happy with it.
It came out quite grey. There were no real blacks nor whites, nor was there alot of contrast (which is quite different from the negatives). I also found I was exposing the paper (what I think was) way too short. f11 for 3.5 seconds. It only took around 15-20 seconds for the image to appear pretty much properly exposed in the developing tray too, which I know is too short. All of these times are considerably shorter than the beginners guide on the Ilford website (which I had printed off and was constantly refering to).
For what it's worth, I'm using Ilford MGIV RC paper, and Ilford Multigrade paper developer.
Any hints, tips or solutions would be tremendously appreciated. As it is I'll probably be racking my brain over it all day at work tomorrow
Thanks again, and all the best,
You have to use shorter exposion and development MUST be 2 min long. what kind of grade filters you used?
Although it may look fully developed after 20 seconds, it isn't - it's just the high contrast caused by the safelight that makes it look that way: as Jurej wrote, it still needs more time to reach a good black - for MGIV RC it will be fully ready after 45-60 seconds at 20 deg C in MG developer at 1+9 strength (1 use 60 seconds + another 15 seconds draining before plonking it in the stop bath).
The time does seem short, but it depends on what size you are printing at and what wattage your enlarger lamp is (I see from your previous posts that it looks like a colour diffuser head) and how thin your negatives are etc.... More detail would help, but looking at it, 3.5 seconds does seem very short assuming an 8x10. Are you dialing in contrast settings using the head? If you use the equal-exposure chart in the Ilford PDF (where you dial in both Yellow and Magenta for each grade) that introduces a useful degree of neutral density. If you are not adding any filtering at all, you get grade 2, but the light is much brighter, which may explain your short time.
Is the border of the print that was under the easel blades also grey? If so, you have fogging which will explain the lack of whites - check for light leaks and that your safelight is not too close to the paper at any time - most safelights like to be a minimum of 3 feet away from the paper. If that is OK, it sounds like too low a contrast: try dialing in filters to achieve grade 4. Make new test strips at this grade and make a print. Any better?
Don't be stingy with the test strips - use at least a half sheet of 8x10 paper for now until you get the hang of things. That will let you see better what is happening to the highlights and shadows for the different times and different grades. You can refine your technique later.
If none of our suggestions help, try again but this time list everything you do and report back with the list: someone may spot the problem with more detail....
Good luck! Bob.
What grade filters are you using? Try the same image with a #3 1/2 filter or higher, see what you get.
Originally Posted by ChrisC
What size paper are you using? Small paper (4"x6") requires the head to be close to the easel, causing shorter exposure times. Adding a filter will lengthen that time but not by much. Are you sure you had it on f11 and not the other end, say f4? (just asking, having done exactly that myself) What is the neg? Is it a night shot with lots of clear film? Does it have lots of highlights, or almost no highlights? If it has lots, then yes I would also say 3.5 secounds is kinda short (depending on development of film of course). If the film is under developed then it will cause the symptons your describing.
What dilution are you using? (again just asking) I find with RC paper the image starts to apear in the first 15-20 secounds. Also I find that what looks good in the tray, isn't the same under "normal" lights. The "recommended" time is one minute for "full" development on RC papers, 2 minutes for FB paper as Juraj Kovacik suggests. (depending on developer, dilution, temp and personal style/result wanted).
Originally Posted by ChrisC
Try another neg from a differnt batch
I find images on Ilford RC paper emarge in the devleoper very quick, just don't reef it out at that point, leave it for the minute. If it's too dark, lower the exposure time. 3.5sec s@ f11 for a 8x10 with no filter sounds reasonable compared to my enlargers. I've read where really short exposure times are not desired as the paper needs longer to react, but I think that's incorrect, I regularly do 1.x sec exposures (small prints, like postcards) and they are fine. To dodge and burn you need longer, but as far as I have seen, the paper reacts to the exposure given, it's not real fussy. for whites to be grey, check your safelight as Bob mentioned, or if that checks out ok, reduce the exposure until the whites are white/off white, whatever you want them. In printing, generally it's expose for the highlights, change grades for contrast (dialing in filtration using a colour head will alter the time unless you use the dual filter method, and even then I reckon you might need to fine tune it... I don't use that method so that's a guess) So, maybe you're over printing it to get some blacks in there when you should be adding filtration (higher grade paper)
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Actually, I would say you didn't have a bad start at all. Your first night and you walked away with a print with only two pages of test prints and two full prints. Re-read all your data sheets to make sure you are following all the instructions. After that, a bit of practice and things will get better quickly.
Thanks for the help everyone.
Besically what I did was just test everything out, and to be honest I rushed things a little, but I just wanted to get a quick feel, and see if I had me head around everything (which I now know I semi-half do). I hadn't dialed in any filtration which would explain the short time (?). Looking back on it, I also completly over-exposed my first print, which turned pretty much black, which could be why I left the following prints in the developer for far too short a time.
The 75mm lens that came with everythig is very foggy too. The guy said he virtually never used it, so that didn't help me out much either as I only have 120 negs to print at the moment.
So I'll buy a few books, do alot of reading and buy a new lens post-Christmas then try all the tips you have all suggested and let you know how things have turned out. Fingers crossed I get better results!
When you say the 75mm lens is "very foggy" do you mean that the lens itself is "foggy" (scratched?) or the focused image looks foggy because of the lens?
Looking through it, it looks like there's a layer of oil or vaseline inside it. It projected a very foggy pattern over the dark portions of my shot. It's the lens that came with the enlarger (LPL C6700) when the previous owner bought it over 10 years ago, and it's branded Hanza (I've never heard alot about them). But it does give me an excuse to buy a decent Schneider in the next month or so.
Originally Posted by Kevin Caulfield
Yes a decent lens sounds like a must and the contrast filtration is too. Otherwise, I agree with Juraj, whatever the claims for shorter times, I do find that Ilford papers produce cleaner contrast if developed for two minutes not just one. Remember you also need to agitate paper developer by rocking the tray back and forth now and then, otherwise you will get very odd uneven development effects.