Originally Posted by MattKing
I knew the negative was underexposed when I contact printed the proof sheet at 5 seconds. I set the negative up and used a 5x7 for a test strip. I figured the shorter the exposure the less gray it would be. After a few test prints at 2 seconds, I had an image, but it was light. The true blacks in the image were gray. So I added a #2 filter and ran it for 2 seconds. The darks were slightly better but it was still to light. So I went up a step to the #3 filter at 2 seconds, again slightly better but the darks were still to light. So I went up to 3 seconds still with the #3 filter and the 8x10 came out to my liking. I'm sure that it isn't correct or proper, but it produced something that I was able to mat and give to a friend as a reminder of our old stomping grounds. It is by far gallery ready, but it worked. The short exposure left enough white, and the filter made the blacks dark enough. But this is how I learn things.
And, we wont even talk about dodging and burning yet. As I said earlier I'm just happy to get an image from the camera to the paper. Right now I'm concentrating on trying to get images with good shadows, highlights, and mid tones. Once I feel like I have gotten that down good enough, I'll venture into the little things like dodging and burning, and tweaking prints to perfection.
But I definitely appreciate all the information you posted above! It's definitely a good reference for me.