This is a valid point.
The reason for my asking is that, I already scan the negatives to archive them. For contact proof, I'll need to put the negatives down again, test print several times to get a "good" contact proof. So I did not know if this is really necessary, or I really miss anything to skip the contact proof.
From the discussion here, I think I'm going to skip the contact proof. Contact proof adds some value, but it is still not entirely objective to present the negative. If I do not scan the negatives, I'll be happy to print the contact proof.
For a normal contact print process you would choose one time setting, not adjust at a whim. Every part of the contact print process is "locked"; height of the enlarger head, aperture, lens, focus distance, developer choice, time for developing, stopping, fixing, temperature... everything. Essentially once you define your process for a given paper you are done adjusting forever.
Originally Posted by RedSun
You are right that you can get max black at either time. Let's assume though for a second that everything else in your contact print process stays the same.
If both times will get your paper to max black using 20-seconds will simply mean that the contact prints of your negatives will "tell you" that you need more camera exposure than if you use 15-seconds as your standard.
Typically though the exposure for a contact sheet is found by testing for the minimum enlarger exposure needed to get max black for that paper with developed but clear film base in the negative holder. That becomes your fixed/absolute standard.
Now, if down the line somewhere you decide you want negatives with more shadow detail available than with your minimum exposure for max black standard then adding 5-seconds of exposure to your contacting process standard will consistently "ask you" for the extra camera exposure needed.
Last edited by markbarendt; 05-11-2014 at 11:30 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR
"We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin
I probably have a bad scanner with automatic settings only. In any case I think best thing today is to make contact print and scan.
Originally Posted by RedSun
This is probably more than you wanted to know but this is what I do.
I usually contact print 4x5 negs just because they look so darn nice. I don't think having a contact print for reference or for judging exposure of a print is necessary since I have been doing this a long time. I just use my eyes and a lightbox.
Other than that, I scan everything I shoot for cataloging and sorting. It is pretty fast for me since I have a Nikon scanner that will do a whole roll automatically. Medium format takes a little longer obviously. Everything gets put in Lightroom and metadata is added. Negs are numbered whist doing this, so everything is kept organized. I still prefer to have a paper copy so I output the decent images every so often so I can get them printed on a 4x6, usually 4 or 6 per print at the local Walgreens or CVS. It is cheap and saves a lot of time. The images are cut up individually. I use these to sort different projects or series by using small magnets on a large metal surface. The computer definitely makes keeping track of everything a lot easier. After I make a final print, I scan it properly and that becomes the new reference. I keep track of images that I want to print inside Lightroom and when I am going into the darkroom, I make a quick contact sheet and print it on a laser printer. The negative number gets printed with the little image and I cut it out and paste it into the binder I use to keep track of printing data. The binder pages are numbered and I use a china marker to put the page number on the negative sleeve so if I want to print the image again, it only takes a second to see how I printed it before. I have found this whole process to be incredibly fast and efficient.
Hope that helps you.
I don't do either, I find I can tell far more by looking at a negative itself and it's a long time since I last did a contact sheet.
Would I scan first, possibly, I've found my negatives scan very easily. When I shot some images in Southern Turkey I processed and scanned some negatives going on to make digital negatives for Platinum prints. What surprised me was how close the scanned images were to later darkroom prints. I should add I choose the images by visual inspection of the negatives before deciding which to use.
The disadvantages of Contact prints is they are usually (unless working off large negatives) to small to really indicate sharpness in different points of an image and don't really give an indication of detail, or of the full tonality. I really only ever did them for others to chose which images they wanted printing.
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I ALWAYS use the same setting for contact prints. f8, 8 seconds, #2 filter and the height for the enlarger chassis is marked. If they are always done this way, I can tell looking at the sheet which frame will print better and whether the roll as a whole was exposed properly. If I changed any value in the recipe, I wouldn't be able to tell as easily what I need to know before I print.
If I want to judge sharpness or focus on smaller negs, I just use a loupe - scanned doesn't help because it isn't always perfect across the whole frame.
F11, 11 seconds, 15 inches. Every time. Develop, fix and wash. I can do 5 contact sheets at one time (probably more if I needed to) and I am usually totally done in 30 minutes or less with prints drying. Scanning that will take me all afternoon, if not longer.
Originally Posted by winger
The simplest tools can be the hardest to master.
in addition to what i said before ...
if you know the limitations
of your methods and that the scan
well, its just a scan, and not really showing
some attributes of a wet print, and you can live with
that sort of "slack" in your process then there is no need to
worry about what you are doing, and if you should be printing contact sheets instead ..
but if the limitations in your scanning are a hinderance to your printing because
the image LOOKS / SEEMS one way on your monitor, and you are unable to
understand how that translates to in a physical wet print, and it bothers you,
then maybe it isn't really something that works for you ...
my own situation ... i don't make contact sheets very much anymore, i got away from it
when i was broke and couldn't afford to use the paper on anything but the end process of what would become a print ..
( test strips test prints &c ) and i got ok at seeing what something looked like as a negative ... kind of like when someone
looks at the ground glass it is upside down and backwards, but eventually it seems normal ...
i do make scan proofs though .. and 99.99% times i am able to replicate what i do on my monitor with what i make in the darkroom
and i know the limits of both the methods that i work with ... but if i was to skan something and afterwards have no clue what i could do
in the dark, that would be kind of a problem and i wouldn't do that anymore, or maybe if it was too much of a PITA to learn, i would just to to dpug and never come here again.
you can't (or at least I never have) judged sharpness form a contact print..
The ONLY way to judge sharpness is to look at the negs through a GOOD loupe
I scan my negs before printing, as the result is the same a a contact print - it's a guide to see if there is anything you want to print. The advantage is I don't have to d it in the dark, and I don't have to mix chemistry whenever I have a film to proof..
Im sorry but i think it is s*upid for many reasons. The first one being that storing the contact sheet with its negative is invaluable.
Browsing through negatives without contact sheets quickly drives a person crazy.