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A different approach for enlarging paper negatives

  1. blindpig
    I've worked with paper negatives off and on for a while,enlarging color slides on paper then contact printing and also some"charcoal" appearing prints by penciling the negative before printing.However,I've never exposed one in a camera and am looking forward to it. Wet plate photos are something I admire and would like to be involved with but being retired and conservative(read cheap),doubt I'll be doing it any time soon. I've noticed some camera produced paper negatives seem to exhibit similar appearances when printed,enough so that I'd like to give it a go... A 4X5 Graphic is my largest camera so am thinking about exposing a paper negative with it and enlarging to 11X14 or16X20 using an old 5X7 Elwood enlarger rigged as a opaque projector thereby eliminating any texture gotten by passing the exposing light through the paper negative. Haven't constructed the lamp house yet but will be working on it soon.
    Be glad to hear any comments/suggestions...
  2. NedL
    I've had the same thought but am not even close to starting yet. Here are a couple of interesting related links:

    The how to build opaque projectors document from here:

    it's interesting to read even if you don't plan to build a reflective enlarger, with information about various lens configurations and homemade lenses.

    Also there is a simple reflective enlarger diagram here:

    Have fun and good luck with the project!
  3. blindpig
    Thanks for the sites,interestingly the second one resembles my planned projector some.
  4. blindpig
    I've gotten a"prototype" projector done and am now trying to fit a small dry darkroom into my garage shop so it will have a home.
    Being frugal (read cheap) and not completely sure of my design the "prototype" is made of double thick corrugated cardboard,two one pound metal coffee cans and one cardboard one pound coffee container.The light source is two of the mogul base 100 watt daylight fluorescent bulbs. Space is at a premium in the shop so the darkroom will be collapsible open it will be 36"X 43" and closed it will be 36"X 27", pretty snug but doable I think.I'll be doing the processing in an old Ciba/Illford chrome tube so once loaded in the dark room it can be developed in the kitchen. The intent is to expose paper negatives in a Crown Graphic 4X5 and enlarge up to 16X20 .( probably 11X14 will be used most).
    Will try to send along some pics when it's further along(this will be much easier when it warms up some as it was in the single digits here today).
  5. NedL
    I'd love to see pics/results. Somewhere here on APUG I mentioned the reflective enlarger and I think it was AGX who wrote back and knew more about that Gratispool company. I think he said enlargements are more limited than with film, which makes sense I think. Paper texture and there is probably a limit to how much reflective light can do. I think the daylight bulbs are a good idea and 2 x 100W sounds good.
  6. blindpig
    In my distant past I had built a"poster booth" which worked by shooting a polaroid of a subject(victim) and then with a custom built opaque projector enlarging to 20X24 through a 120 line, halftone screen on to a PMT graphic arts material resulting in a poster sized print, in a short period of time.The projector used two 500 watt quartz bulbs as the screen and PMT material were pretty slow exposure wise.This experience leads me to believe the enlargement (or copying) to the sizes I'm attempting will be successful.
    But time will tell I guess. Dang! it's not going to be any warmer here today!(it's really hard to work in heavy gloves LOL!).
  7. blindpig
    Finally it's warmed up enough to continue my project.I've gotten a prototype opaque enlarger built and most of the construction on a collapsible dry darkroom(just need to light tight it a little).Am going to hold off painting it black inside till I've tested the enlarger a bit.
    Another step will be to retrieve my darkroom stuff from a storage shed and that will be more enjoyable as the temperature has gotten above the teens finally.
    Am attaching a few pics of the project so far....

    This is my first time trying to post pics so hope it works OK...OOPS! the descriptions fell by the wayside I guess.
    The first pic is the front,next back,and then bottom views of the enlarger.The first pic of the darkroom is showing it collapsed and the next expanded.
    The darkroom is approx 36"wide by 47" deep when expanded,36"by 28"deep when collapsed. My shop is one half a two car garage and it's pretty well packed with the benches and power tools so the small dry darkroom is necessary for my using the opaque enlarger for some paper negative fun.
  8. blindpig
    Oops! again, the first darkroom pic is expanded....(Dang!)
  9. blindpig
    It's taken a while but finally I've taken my first ever paper neg in camera and enlarged it in the reflective enlarger.
    The quick grab photo leaves something to be desired(as in depth of focus etc.)but was in a big hurry to try an enlargement.
    The neg was shot using a 2X3 Crown Graphic and enlarged to approximately 16"X20" using the prototype reflective enlarger.
    The print also could use some help(cleaner neg,burning in,maybe even split grade printing) but again I was in a hurry.
    The image was printed with a #2 filter at f 8 for 45 seconds and developed in Dektol 2:1.

    Let me know what you think....
    I've got some tweeking to do on the dark room etc so there will be more to come.
  10. NedL
    Just fantastic, I love it!
  11. blindpig
    Finally some progress....
    Finished the dark room and shot a paper neg portrait .Turns out it's not a dry dark room in that I can develop the paper negs and also prints up to 11" X 14"(larger prints will have to be processed in tubes outside the darkroom)."Even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while" LOL!
    Here's some pics:

  12. blindpig
    Update: The weather is turning toward the hot and humid, typical summer in southwest Missouri and my small darkroom is not as comfortable as it was earlier.
    I've added a"hillbilly" air conditioner.It's made from a Styrofoam cooler with an opening for a fan and an exhaust tube directing the air into the darkroom,Oh! I forgot to mention that there's a frozen gallon jug of water in the cooler.It's not pretty but seems to get the job done. Still a work in progress and allowing me to continue with my
    paper negative journey (learning something new daily).
    The enlarger is working so well I hate to change it but am thinking of building a metal one for longevity and maybe one that can be retrofitted on a regular enlarger.
    Would appreciate any thoughts you all might have about that......
  13. TheToadMen
    I read your posts for the first time today and I'm impressed. Congratulations! This must be a fun project. I wondered how to make larger prints with paper negatives, without making larger paper negatives. Now I know. I want to learn lith printing this summer, but building an enlarger like this might be something for next winter. It will expand my options for using paper negatives in a homemade pinhole camera.

    I've got one question. I'm guessing you put the paper negative on top of the enlarger head. How do you keep the image flat? Or isn't that an issue?
    Bert from Holland
  14. blindpig
    I have a 6"X 10" piece of tempered Masonite with half of a 4"X 5" negative carrier taped to one side so it will hinge open allowing the paper negative to be placed under it.
    When on the enlarger the negative carrier is down(of course) the weight of the Masonite holds it flat.It may be interesting to note that the back side of the Masonite is painted medium gray and is used to pre-flash m camera negatives. Thanks for the question,let me know if I can be of further help.
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