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  1. #1

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    Aug 2006
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    Advice Needed on Minimalist Contact Printing

    Let me start by saying that I have searched this forum and do see bits and pieces of what I need in various posts, and so apologize for repetition, but wanted to take a shot to get advice in one place on the process I'm trying.

    To teach my kids about analog photography, I bought a 4 x 5 wide-angle pinhole camera, some Adox (Efke) 25, and some D76 (along with stop bath and fixer) and after some trial and error and advice from other APUG forums, I finally have negatives that I like. Now what? I don't have an enlarger, and am not in the market for one. I bought some Ilford 2 and Ilford 3 in 5x7 sheets and developer listed as compatible (though I don't recall now what it is). I also have a frame. My thought was to frame the 4 x 5 negative precisely in the frame against the 5 x 7 paper (leaving trimming for later); chemical disposal is an issue for me, and my output is very light, so I don't want to fill trays big enough for 8 x 10, at least not for now. Is this a decent plan or should I ditch the frame and put the negative and paper under glass? Also, what about a bulb for exposure? I've read that a frosted night light about a yard from the paper works. Does this seem right? Anyone have more specific specs on the bulb? What about drying the prints? A dryer is not in the cards. Though it seems beyond imbecilic now, I once tried drying negatives between pages of a phonebook. I won't do that again, but inasmuch as prints are not irreplaceable, I am willing to try that with the prints. Is this stupid again? Any other advice? Thanks in advance.

  2. #2

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    If you're using RC paper, you can hang your prints to dry. If you're using fiber paper, you can dry them face down on a clean fiberglass window screen. Putting them between the pages in a phonebook is a bad idea.

  3. #3

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    For minimalistic contact printing, I use a "Paterson Orbital" daylight tray. You just need a maglite with some red electrical tape on to use as a safelight to open the paper box, take a sheet, put it in the frame witn your neg.
    I exposed with a lightbulb (15W) but it's already quite powerful for RC Ilford, I had to move it back about 2 meters and use a "shade" made of paper to reach "manageable" times (about 20 seconds)
    Once the paper is exposed, I put the paper in the Paterson Orbital and I can turn the lights on.

    After that it's just a question of pouring the dev, agitate 2 minutes, pour the dev back in the bottle, do the same with stop + fix and wash the paper 2 minutes...

    To dry hang them by a corner, I usualy put a kitchen towel underneath to collect any drops...

    Since then I got myself a very cheap russian enlarger ( the kind that fold into a small suitcase) to use as light source; it has a filter tray, aperture on the lens so it's easy to get reproducible results across sessions... Oh and yeah it also enlarges 35mm negs, that can be useful

  4. #4
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buze View Post
    For minimalistic contact printing, I use a "Paterson Orbital" daylight tray.
    Which you can also use to process your 5x4" negatives.


    Steve.

  5. #5

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    ... In fact, I also do my 4x5 film in the same orbital :-) ... (after gouging the bottom of the tray)

  6. #6
    John Bartley's Avatar
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    Before I got an enlarger I contact printed onto RC from my 4x5 negatives. I think what I was doing was the definition of "minimalist". I set a chunk of pywood over the toilet bowl to use for a printing platform. I used a 7watt fridge light in a gooseneck lamp sitting on the toilet tank with a bit of blue plastic report cover taped over it as the blue filtered light source. I didn't have a frame but rather held the negative down on the paper (on the plywood) with a chunk of window glass. I turned the light on and off with the lamp switch (no timer). I counted the seconds myself (1-mississippi etc...) and then I developed the paper in trays in the bathtub and used the shower water (hand hose) for the rinse. Yes, I spent a lot of time on my knees . Here's my first contact print from my first photo from my first LF camera - you can't get much simpler or easier than this :
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails CP008.jpg  

  7. #7
    jeroldharter's Avatar
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    If you have adequate water supply, consider doing single tray processing during which you keep each chemical in its own storage container and pour back and forth between the developing tray. Obviously, wide mouth beakers are nice but for your low volumes in a 5 x 7 tray you could probably buy some second hand pyrex kitchen beakers.

    You should rinse the tray thoroughly between stop and fix, and again between fix and hypoclear, and then again after removing the print. No need to dry the tray between prints. It won't make a difference.

    I would use RC paper also. You only need 1 5 x 7 tray, 4 beakers, a light bulb on a timer, and a sheet of plexiglass.
    Jerold Harter MD

  8. #8

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    contact printing

    I believe that going the route of a 15 watt light bulb and three trays is QUITE minimilist. I did this for many a year with 5x7 negs. I put the bulb in a metal cannister and then attached the entire assembly to a pulley. A good place to start is about a height of 30 inches. That way you can easily raise and lower the light. I never had a problem with fiber prints and that was before I owned a press. You will have to figure out how to do washing though. RC seems like a good alternative. Seriusly-three trays does not seem to be so many. Go to the local glazier and buy two sheets of glass or better yet buy a frame to hold your negs and the paper together. Either will work fine but the contact frame IS superior and probably safer for kids. This is really about as basic as it gets and you will be in good company ala E. Weston and many others. Have a great time!!
    Best, Peter



 

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