Blurry Contact Prints
I finally tried out printing for the first time last night, and wanted to start with contact prints. The problem, as the title gives away, is that they all turned out blurry. Pretty much unusable. I'm using a Focomat enlarger with a 150 watt bulb. I had the lens opened to 2.8; I have my negatives in the clear protective sleeves and used a Patterson contact printer. The paper is Foma 311 and I used Agfa Neutol Plus at a normal 1+4 dilution. I initially exposed for 10 seconds and developed recommended 60-90 seconds. After the first sheet came out blurry I did try variations of exposure and development. If any one has any suggestions I'd be really grateful, not sure where I am going wrong here...
(The one thing I noticed is that there is no suggested exposure time for the Fomaspeed, is this usual???)
I would take the negatives out of the sleeves and have some pressure onto the neg's and paper.
Check out with the lights on (without paper) if your neg's lay flat, otherwise you get unsharp results.
The negative should be emulsion to emulsion with the contact paper, and there should be no protective sleeve in order to get good, sharp contact prints.
The thickness of the sleeve is enough to blur the image.
Ok, then I'll most definitely try it without the plastic sleeve. Is this how it is usually done? I've always read that most people use the plastic to protect the negatives, plus it seems easier to line up the negatives with the paper if they are all in the sleeve. Does my exposure time sound right? I couldn't find information on this paper specifically, thanks again for helping out!
It is definitely easier to line up the negatives using the plastic sleeve, but as your responses so far indicate, negatives in direct contact with the paper will produce sharp proofs. It may seem fussy at first, but with practice it gets easy to lay out your negatives directly on the paper. Having used both methods of proofing, I now use the direct contact method, and have bypassed plastic storage sleeves.
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I just lay them out on the paper and put a sheet of glass over them to press them flat (glass from an 8x10 or 11x14 picture frame). Set enlarger to project well beyond the area you need to cover (so there is little light fall-off). Use grade 2 filter if you have.
Find the minimum time for each film type to just get to maximum black through the film rebate (edges) for a mid-aperture exposure via test strip. Record aperture, time, enlarger height, and contrast filter. Use these settings each time, so you don't have to go through the test strip thing each time. If you standardize like this, then a quick examination of the contact will give you hints about how to make your projection print.
I usually try to make contacts as soon as the film is dry, but before I sleeve them -- when I'm organized.
(If contact prints are too dark, consider increasing your in-camera exposure. If prints are too light, consider decreasing your in-camera exposure.)
With most papers, you can use a red safelight or red filter over your enlarger lens so that you can see what you're doing when you line the film up. I do that to get the framing just right, if I want clean white borders.
Yes, I always do emulsion-to-emulsion, and for bendy negs I weigh them down with a thick piece of clean glass. Everything needs to be dust free, of course.
Rather than pushing and pulling negs in and out of sleeves for successive prints, I move the neg onto fresh paper right after each exposure. Once I get things about right then I just go quickly from one print to the next.
Oh and having your enlarger at f/2.8 probably isn't such a good idea, why not stop it down quite a lot, say f/16 or more, to produce a more collimated beam. That will also improve sharpness. (And, in my experience, a contact print done through a protective sleeve shouldn't be terribly unsharp if you do have a well-collimated light source.)
Do take the time to track down any light leaks that might give you some non-collimated exposure.
I always do the proof sheets with the negs in the printfile sleeves and have no problems with sharpness there. Check that your glass is providing good pressure on the negs/paper.
[QUOTE=David William White
Find the minimum time for each film type to just get to maximum black through the film rebate (edges) for a mid-aperture exposure via test strip. Record aperture, time, enlarger height, and contrast filter.
Thanks! I wasn't aware that I should use a filter, I do have them so I will try it out. Also, did I understand correctly, that each film type has a recommended exposure time? Or did you mean each paper type?
Keith, thanks. I was unsure as to the correct setting, I initially used f/2.8 as it provided the largest light source and would decrease the amount of time that I needed to develop the print. I also read (can you tell I'm learning all this stuff on my own...thank goodness for APUG) that I should set the enlarger at its highest setting, meaning as far as it will go on its column. Is this incorrect? Do I need to bring it back down once I have placed the negatives underneath as long as there is enough light to cover the outer edges?
Originally Posted by keithwms