I won't repeat the excellent advice others have posted, though I'll second the recommendations of starting with Ilford MGIV FB, as this is the same emulsion as the RC version which you will expose and control the contrast the same way. Dmax *is* reached before drying, but you'll notice that dry FB prints will look less contrasty and about 10% darker than wet ones - this is called 'dry down' and is caused by the gelatin drying. Dead matt papers dry down the most - glossy the least.
Originally Posted by msbarnes
Graded papers another learning curve, but well worthwhile investigating. You need to match the negative to the paper contrast. Graded papers mostly tone more effectively than VC papers in selenium and have differences in tonal rendering etc. They're also in my experience less forgiving of sloppy workmanship. Ilford Gallerie is a very nice paper and it tones like a dream. I'd recommend that you stick with VC papers until you feel your printing has reached a high standard. Graded papers won't magically improve your results.
Before you rush out and buy FB paper, I suggest you try and get the best out of your current RC paper. See if you can find out why you find your prints are lacking - RC papers *are* capable of wide tonal range and deep blacks, and taking shortcuts will compromise your results. Any shortcuts you might use with RC prints (skipping stop bath, pulling prints, underfixing, underwashing etc) will cause real problems with FB and will result in poor print longevity, staining, poor Dmax and other faults. Once you can achieve fantastic results with RC papers, the move to FB will be much less of a learning curve. FB papers aren't a magical solution, so take your time, prepare to slow down and culture patience in the darkroom and you'll be fine - it's an interesting journey.
Last edited by kevs; 12-04-2012 at 08:39 PM. Click to view previous post history.