Contrast issue

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by Firelance, Mar 29, 2005.

  1. Firelance

    Firelance TPF Noob!

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    Hi

    Sometimes I really have a problem with the contrast of my photos, or it's too gray, or my black isn't black enough..

    I doubt it has something to do with my camera configuration; sometimes I put my Minolta on Automatic, sometimes I mesure the light from the ground,...
    But if there's something that I should really keep in the back of my mind to control the contrast, please tell me, I find it quite difficult...

    I always use the time that stands in the inside of the film box when developing: first minute constant agitation, then each 30 secs... Should I develop longer to gain contrast?

    And when enlarging my pictures, I always have to use filter #2, 3 or higher, I've never used lower than 2 before...

    Can someone help me?

    Thanks
     
  2. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Filter 2 in multigrade is normal - that is the one you are supposed to use.
    Developing your film for longer just increases negative density and grain size with little or no gain in contrast.
    There are many variables in film photography that can affect contrast. Most of them are:
    Lighting
    Film
    Camera lens
    Developer
    Enlarging lens
    Enlarging paper
    Paper developer
    Dev temperature

    The main aspect of the technical side of photography is learning how all these interact and how to control them to get an optimum print.
    Persevere. And read the right books.

    (and we'll help where we can)
     
  3. KevinR

    KevinR TPF Noob!

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  4. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    As Hertz said, there are a lot of things that could be affecting your contrast.

    If your photos are consistantly low contrast you might try increasing the amount of agitation.

    To increase contrast you can underexpose and overdevelop.

    Inability to get good blacks can mean the developer is becoming exhausted.

    Check out these books by Henry Horenstein. They are pretty easy to read.

    Black and White Photography: A Basic Manual
    Beyond Basic Photography: A Technical Manual
     
  5. oriecat

    oriecat work in progress

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    Do the negatives look flat, or do they look like they should be ok and just the prints are flat?
     
  6. Firelance

    Firelance TPF Noob!

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    Well I guess the negatives are pretty ok; also when I make a contact sheet, some pictures look good but when I print them they're just terrible...
     
  7. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    In my own experience it is much easier to deal with low contrast negs than high contrast negs. You've tried printing them with a #4 contrast filter with longer print exposure times?
     
  8. Firelance

    Firelance TPF Noob!

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    Hmmm I wonder if this low contrast has something to do with the fact that I develop my Ilford BnW Films with Kodak T-max; the guy from the local photostore told me that it was never actually the meaning of developping ilford with t-max...

    Anyone?
     
  9. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Of course Ilford is going to tell you that you should use their chems with their films, and Kodak will tell you the same. You may have to practice/experiment to get the right exposure and development for what you want, but there are many, many folks out there that are getting good results developing Ilford films in T-max developer. Personally I don't like T-max developer one bit, although I'll admit I've never taken the proper time to get to know it.

    EDIT: I'm telling you, get those Horenstein books I recommended, and Henry will set you on the right path. You can get them new at Freestyle for $23 each, or a lot less used. I see them at my local used bookstore fairly regularly going for about $6.
     
  10. KevinR

    KevinR TPF Noob!

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    I am developing my tmax 400 and tri-x 400 with ilford chemicals, and they look fine. I would say it is something with the enlarger combo. What enlarger is being used, what lens, and what paper? You might even be having some issues with darkroom lights.
     
  11. omalley

    omalley TPF Noob!

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    How are you exposing? By the seat of your pants, or are you metering and then placing zones appropriately? Also, how much are you agitating during development? If neither of these are a problem, try increasing development time by 20%.
    It's not a problem with the enlarger (there's no such thing as a low-con enlarger) and it's probably not a problem with the paper either if you are using a decent VC paper. It's possible that you have a light leak in the darkroom and it's "flashing" the paper, but you can do a simple test for that by processing an unexposed piece of paper.
    As for the developer I'm not sure tmax is optimal for the film you are using. Try something like ID-11 instead, or D-76 if you really want to use Kodak. I'm not sure about this, but I know that tmax was developed for use with tabular-grain films and I'm not sure what its makeup is. If it has too much solvent it could be making your negatives soft.
    Lastly, you could simply need to calibrate your meter. This is kind of time consuming, but you can do it yourself if you take the time.
    Good luck.
     
  12. KevinR

    KevinR TPF Noob!

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    There is if you have a big dust problem such as dirty lens or condenser or filters. Maybe a light leak in the bellows of a 23C for example. I was just trying to cover all of the bases.
     

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