Confessions of a darkroom returnee !
On Friday I unpacked my 'new' enlarger - Meopta opemus 5A with Nikkon 80mm and 50 mm lenses, about 25 years old-along with the assorted papers, chemicals and VG filters (I was considering graded papers but was advised to start easy ). My last enlarger was one of the Zenit in a box jobs 25 years ago so I consider myself a newbie.
Last night (Saturday) I leave my darling, supportive wife with the TV and go into the room that is to be the scene of future glories/disaster (delete as appropriate), make up chemicals, black out windows and lay out the trays, enlarger etc.
Does everyone else get that little voice saying "why have I done this ?" when they start and check thee paper is in the box at least 3 times before turning on the light or is it just me ? - Anyway I print from pre processed 35 mm negs which I have prints for and the first one is fairly on one side but OK on the other, not like the original !
Try again - this time there are 'streaks' of light on the print AND a gradation of tone BUT the streaks are on the neg, I just hadn't seen them on the 6 x 4 original from 'prints - R -us'.
OK there is a problem, take the lens off and look , no problems, check filter drawer-OK, check everything is level, the head clamp is tight so it's not at a slight angle, check neg carrier-nothing. Finally take the light chamber off and gently clean the frosted glass diffuser. Next print is OH so I assume there must have been a little 'crud' on there or something- either that or I am rocking the dishes better :rolleyes: .
OK I have played a bit and am wondering where two hours have gone so I decide to do the print I am really please with on the 6 x 4 (http://www.apug.org/gallery/showphot...00&ppuser=8780) . Do two test strips worry about the timings, re check the lens apperture 5 times then go for it. After the customary 3 hours in developer, 10 minutes in 'stop' and 5 years in fixer (maybe it just seems that way) and with a heart going at about 120 bpm I turn on the light and begin to wash the print, you know what it's not bad ! I need to practice getting the thing square in the easel but the detail is better than the lab processed print, the brickwork and shop signs are clearer and sharper, even allowing for 10 x 8 instead of 6 x 4, and the tones are more pleasant. It knocks the inkjet print,of which I had previously been very proud, into oblivion and I feel GOOOOOOOOOOD!!!
I now have two or three problems,
Will it look better on grade 2 1/2 or even 2, does it need a slightly shorter exposure, shoul I try to dodgre the foreground where it's a bit dark, how long will one print to get right ? Can't waut to find out !
The other problem is I am beginning to see how poor my 35mm lens is, need to spend some money on some glass - preferably MF with a camera attached !!!
Thanks to all who have supported me through this board, it's the best place on the web !!
Welcome (back) to the Dark Side! The jitters and sudden sweats go after a few years so don't worry too much...
Just keep remembering to check that you have closed up the paper before you turn the white light on and you will be fine - all other errors just mean you have to do it again...
If you have to set up and break down the darkroom/bathroom/etc every time, save yourself time and keep the chemicals in bottles; the stop will last indefinitely until exhausted, the fix will last a long time (at least a few weeks) and the developer life depends on the type: some last for many weeks, some die in 24 hours.
To help reduce friction with the rest of the household, use low odour fixer (Fotospeed, Tetenal etc make it) and citric acid based stop (it has no odour at all - again Fotospeed supply it, amongst others).
Have fun! Bob.
Glad to hear that you are enjoying the experience.
Your experiences sound about right... fun isn't it! I often think, 'Ok, I've been going for an hour I'll stop for a cuppa.' Only to discover it's been three hours...
Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.
Welcome back to the fold! Buy lots of paper and don't be afraid to throw away 'substandard' prints made whilst in search of that 'perfect' print. I use a Opemus 6A and am having tons of fun with it.
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Watching a print develop, is better than watching a plot develop on the TV any evening!
Welcome back to the darkroom, it really does do wonders for your photography, especially when you understand why this or that, didn't quite work out.
Welcome back to the best fun available that isn,t either illegal,immoral or fattening ! After 20 years printing my own, I still get the ANGST about every print I make, but they are all my own work, and the best thing about REAL hands on traditional photography is that if it goes horribly wrong you still have the neg and get to do it all over again. Properly stored negs will last longer than accidentally deleted digital files,and are immune to computer virus.
EXACTLY! Isn't it great?!
Originally Posted by Andy K
Welcome back - there is magic in all this, you know!
PS - I started on an ancient Meopta - hey, it worked! I am told the newer ones don't give away much to the better known brands.
Then after all your trials and tribulations over several hours, you show the wife the results and you get a look that says "very nice but is that all you could manage in the time?"
Those unfamiliar with the darkroom ressemble the tourist who knocks over a vase in the Egyptian museum. The curator says: "That was nearly three thousand years old!"
The tourist says: "Oh, good job it wasn't new then"
I can relate to the excitement of starting again. I found it took a couple of throw-away sessions to be able to actually focus(yuk,yuk) and have a serious approach. My first few sessions after I started again were mostly filled with giggles and not-so-good quality prints. But they were also filled with the feeling that "it's good to be back!"