I've been shooting Ilford FP4+ at EI 80 for my camera/meter/developing style. I develop to control the contrast with Tetenal Ultrafin Plus diluted to 1+9, with 3 stand cycles and 4 agitations, as I often shoot with a #25 red or K2 yellow filter and a CP. The negatives of clouds and brights come out looking nice, with good separation in the highlights and seemingly dark shadows and midtones. Everything looks good on that side. The trouble comes when I bring in the negatives to get printed commercially. They print on Fuji Color Archive paper using digital enlargers, processing through a machine. The clouds in print come out almost pure white with little to no separation, the shadows come about in the midrange, and the midtones are about right.

When I asked the photographer where I order prints about it, he said the higher contrast in the negatives was the problem. He suggested I either print myself or decrease exposure. He also said that the machines read an area they see as midtone and print based on that, causing the rest of the scene to appear overexposed. He also said this particular paper is the equivalent to grade 2. Is this a fair statement? Doing so would make it more difficult to print myself when I can get a darkroom together, wouldn't it?

I appreciate your time and any answers, as I find this quite perplexing.