Experimenting with Contact Prints
I recently tried contact printing my LF negatives. My location limits what I can acquire, so using Ilford's IlfospeedGrade 3 and a bottle of Tetenal Eukobrom, I went to work. Unfortunately, I cannot change the light in the bathroom to a lower level, so experienced several abysmal failures, before hitting upon trying out my flash at lower power levels. By limiting the power of the flash, which is extremely short duration, you can get your exposure almost spot on.
The next time I ordered paper, the shop could only get Ilford's MGIV VC paper. The photographer said you can control the contrast with your development and don't need filters. This was definitely not accurate beyond the most basic sense. After some trial and error, and probably 10 wasted shots, I decided to look at Ilford's VC filters. I found an image on Google of the correct filter. Then I searched my Rosco gels for a match, which was found in short order in #39 Skelton's Exotic Sangria. Trying it out, I found that 9 flashes was still correct and exposure was usually spot on. The paper developed too quickly, so I diluted the Eukobrom to 1:18 and now get good prints. The dilution helps keep the print from going warm, and at this level keeps it from cooling too much and makes for some very nice neutral tones.
I still suck at scanning, dust and lost details, but being able to print my work and then take in the contact print when I want larger prints, makes for more good prints and less waste for the company I get my prints from.
I know this probably isn't much, especially here, but I thought sharing would help someone else out. Those who came before us in photography made do with what was available, and experimenting with what I have now makes for increased learning and a greater connection with the roots of our art.
I hope everyone has a great day!
Are you flashing directly or bouncing off the ceiling?
Also, I assume you are putting the filter on the flash. Much cheaper than a large piece over the negative.
I have thought about doing this but haven't actually done it yet. I have also thought about putting flash tubes in my enlarger!
if your exposures are right it comes to filter 2(or no filter exept different time) If there are no filters around anymore, usually very cheap at any 2nd hand shop (and not only camera-shops) you can also see if you have a professional-light retal near you... these used to have free samples of filters in a neat little book. You can undoubtedly find the filters(colours) you need and hold it in front of the flash so you can alter the contrast in your contacts. Personally I find that my contacts look better with filter 3 though if I print I end up using filter 2 ... Baidewai: I think to establish a standard in your case you might want to stick your flash in a fixed position you can repeat easily I like your the to-use-what-is-at-hand method!
Steve, thanks for the reply. It's definately worth trying. The results I'm getting are a pleasant surprise, and it's quite rewarding to be able to say "I did it!"
The 4x6 bathroom is painted white, so I'm bouncing off the walls. I use a large Rogue Flashbender to bounce it off the back wall for some very nicely diffused light.
The gel goes on the flash. I'm using a YN-560 with the diiffusor screen to hold the gel in place. The gel was part of my Rosco Strobist set. The gel set was about $15 from Amazon, and I never thought it would be this handy! The flash is set to 1/16th and triggered with a wireless RF remote.
I don't have an enlarger, so I can't speak to that, other than to say the number of "pops" should be lower, as the light would seem to be more concentrated.
Last edited by kintatsu; 10-31-2012 at 11:38 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I was able to find the match in my Rosco set for the Ilford Grade 3 filter. It's $15 from Amazon, so worth the price.
Using what's available adds to the sense of accomplishment, as some of what's there isn't meant for the purpose. It adds another tool to the box, and allows for expanded creativity.
Thanks for the tip and the comment!
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Am I right in thinking that Rosco is a manufacturer of stage lighting gels?
I use Lee filters - the same company who make photographic filters. They supply a booklet of all of their gels in a convenient 1.5" x 3.5" size - just right for putting on the front of a flash! Is Rosco the same?
That's right. They make lighting and gels for lighting. They do other stuff I think, too. They teamed up with the Strobist blog to create a pack of 55 gels for photographic flashes. So, it's the same.
They are thin, but at the low power I'm using they seem to be ok. They also do swatch books directly from them. I'll have to check out Lee filters and see what they offer! Thanks for the info.
It sounds like the flash on low power is a great idea to get started with. However it's probably not going to be your best choice when you start burning and dodging your prints to darken or lighten specific areas relative to the overall exposure. You usually don't want sharp lines that you would get with flash stopping the motion of a dodging flag.
In a reflective room, you could set up a desk lamp with a relatively low wattage incandescent lamp on a dimmer. A dimmable LED could also be a great choice. It really doesn't need to be that close to the print, just somewhere that you can get a nice even light across the neg and paper.
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just have to be quick, real quick!
Originally Posted by mrosenlof
You must have a safelight, right? Where does that plug in? There is not enough amperage available for a second low wattage white light for your contact printing?
Originally Posted by kintatsu