Thanks to veryone for the suggestions. I think I'll try low contrast graded paper and preflashing. My guess is that graded paper could have a more normal tonal response (contrast should not change with colour). And, Aggie, it took me a while to understand the raincoat thing, english is not my mother tongue ;-D
I`ve tried using printing paper in pinhole cameras but was unhappy with the washed out sky that results from the blue sensitivity of printing papers. I did try using multigrade filters in front of the pinhole but this made little differnce to the image. With the sun shining directly at the pinhloe I managed to record a superb image of defects on the surface of the filter but nothing else.
I did find that Kentmere papers required much shorter exposure times than Ilfords.
I eventually gave up on printing paper and bought a 5x4 developing tank and started using film instead with much better results.
Hi folks. I'm new to this forum, so here's my first reply.
I've been troubled with excess contrast using VC paper negatives for years. I've tried film developer instead of paper developer - doesn't help much, just makes the paper even slower.
Recently, a neighbor dug up an old box of Ilford Graded RC paper from his garage. Must be from the '80's. Thought I'd give it a try. Low and behold: this stuff works pretty good for negatives! I can actually get a full tonal range on the negative, with the blue sky showing up as a nice middle gray, rather than dark black, as VC papers would deliver. These negatives yield nice, full tonal range prints, too.
Problem is, I'm gonna run out of this stuff. The local stores only sell VC paper. Guess I'll have to find some graded stuff via mail order and see if it gives me the same results.
I'd like to stick with RC graded for negatives, because the flatness of the RC paper makes contact printing the negatives a bit easier. There's nothing as frustrating as trying to get two pieces of unruly, curling paper to be precisely aligned, with the curling sides facing each other.
One more note about exposing paper negatives: lately I've taken to giving my negs more exposure than my old tests indicated was proper. I find lots of my more recent images look better with more exposure. I think if you leave the shadow parts of the image near paper-white on the negative, you've effectively increased the contrast, due to under exposure. Over expose a bit, and you can tame the extreme contrast of paper negatives.
I'm new too, but i may have a solution for you: try using a small piece of gel or acetate 85a filter material behind the hole. It will act as a conversion filter for the paper neg.
I tested this out last year, in preparation for a pinhole project. Basically, I too was annoyed that I was getting unpredictable , highly contrasty results using Multigrade4 whreas 20 years before ( yes, it was a while back) my paper negs , with graded Ilfospeed, were just wonderful . My suspicion was that as the newer papers were redesigned for filtered tungsten illumination at 3200K- and were thus highly blue-sensitive, that raw exposure to daylight -5500K- would then shift the paper into high contrast overdrive...so I mounted a small square of 85 filter gel ( scrounged from a film shoot) behind the hole as an experiment. It worked. In effect, I was exposing the paper neg to the light it was designed for.
The results were encouraging:the contrast was lessened considerably and the paper negs became much more tonal in gradation.There was a noticeable increase in exposure required, but that worked out to the project's benefit.
The only thing that doesn't change is the paper's insensitivity to red or near-red, so you still have to take into account that the paper neg will print these colours as dark-grey to black.
Eventually I've switched to N. 1 graded RC paper with glossy finish, not so difficoult to find here in Rome (Italy). It works pretty good.