Learning printing

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by Bluhmja, Nov 15, 2007.

  1. Bluhmja

    Bluhmja TPF Noob!

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    Hi,
    Where would I go to learn about doing my own printing? Online sources are preferred, but books would be fine too. I'm confused by all the different papers that are available (fiber, variable contrast, graded. . .) and I'd like a resource that lays it out clearly so I can get my head wrapped around it.

    Also, what other good enlarger brands are there besides Beseler (units that do both B&W and color are preferred)?

    Thanks,
    Joshua
     
  2. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    I would start with RC (resin-coated) VC (variable contrast) paper.

    Durst also makes very good enlargers, but there's a wider availability of negative carriers, heads, and bulbs, for Beseler.

    There should be an abundance of how-to printing resources on google.
     
  3. doobs

    doobs TPF Noob!

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    I suggest picking up Ilford's student/value pack which comes with Ilford Multigrade VC RC and two rolls of HP5. It's cheap and good paper to start on. I still use it when I'm printing on a day before the pay check comes. ;) The extra rolls of HP5 are good as well.

    I use a Saunders/LPL Enlarger. It's a big one that lets you print up to 5x7 negatives but I don't know the name.
     
  4. ann

    ann No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    check ilford's website, they have a set of pdf files that will give you some basic information.

    you might try to find a copy of Henry HOrenstein"s Balck and White Photography a Basic Manual, or larry bartlett Black and White Photographic pri/nting Workshop. they will be very helpful

    i am sure others will chime in with their favorite recommendations.

    you would be better served if you could take a basic darkroom class, as it would be far faster and better to have some one who knows what they are doing help you. Or, perhaps someone in your area that could be a mentor.


    Usually beginning students use a multi contrast paper , RC, as it is faster and you can change the contrast range with either filters, or a dial in head on the enlarger. RC papers have different exposure times, development times and wash times, and they have a different look than fiber.

    Some of us old timers still used graded papers and make our negatives to fit a specific paper grade and many , myself included only print on fiber paper as we like the look. THis is not to start a "war" about which is better, it is a matter of personal taste and perhaps experience.

    several other very good enlargers, OMega D's and Saunders. Some may have a color head or a vc head, if not, then you will need both a set of black and white filters and color filters if your going to print color as well.
    However, i would suggest that you pick one and stick with the process , jumping around from type can get very confusing when first starting out.

    In theory, printing is not diffiuclt, to become very good is another issue as there is a lot to learn . If you want to become a good printer you must do the foot work, which means working every day, making lots of mistakes, and learning from those mistakes. The question is not will i make a mistake but rather which one will i make when. EVeryone has to fill the learning bin when they learn to print and all photographers sooner or later all make the same mistakes.

    you will need to think about what size format your wanting to work with, that will help in the decision making about which enlarger to buy as not all handle a wide variety of formats.
     
  5. doobs

    doobs TPF Noob!

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    The Ansel Adams series is helpful and you might want to check out "The Print" in this case.
     
  6. Bluhmja

    Bluhmja TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all the replies. They've been very helpful. To narrow it down for you, what I'd like to do is start off with 4x6" B&W prints and learn the basics with that. But I would like the option to print color 4x6" and 8x10" in the future as well. Basically I'm looking for an enlarger that is relatively easy to learn on, but has a lot of expandability for the future. I work only with 35mm at this time, but it would be icing on the cake if it could print other mediums as well.
    Thanks,
    Joshua
     
  7. ann

    ann No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    any enlarger is easy to print with, you need to determine just how large you think your format range might go, if un-decided i would go for an enlarger that will print up to 4x5 negatives, then it is undoubtful you will ever have to upgrade the whole enlarger and these enlargers are very stable which is critical even with a 35mm format.

    as an aside, learning to print such small images is not necessarily easier or cost effect. Printing larger and smaller than 8x10 calls for different skill sets. so if printing 4x6 is a cost cutting method you may be surprised to find that learning to burn and dodge with such a small area will probably results in more waste, just my 2 cents worth of exerpiences with teaching beginners.
     
  8. joyride

    joyride TPF Noob!

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    I will agree with ann. Evenb though my limet experience binds me to 35mm and no larger than 8X10, it is great place to start. I use Illford VCRC paper, and am going to move to fiber as soon as I have some time.

    The book I purchased for photo I was Photography. It was very basic, and gave step by step instructions that were easy to follow. 3 years later, I find myself still referencing it! You can get it for $20 used on amazon:
    http://www.amazon.com/Photography-B...91/ref=sr_11_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1195191844&sr=11-1
     
  9. Bobby Ironsights

    Bobby Ironsights TPF Noob!

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    Printing's easy. I read Horenstein's book, but I wish someone would have given me a more succinct explanation in the first place.

    Let me try.

    First, film and paper is much the same thing, just that film has a clear plastic backing, and paper has a paper backing.When you take a picture, light comes through the lens onto the film, and forms a negative image.

    A print is made by shining light though a negative onto paper, forming a positive.

    An enlarger is a light source, and a projector lens with a place to put your negative in between. You put the negative in the negative holder in the enlarger.
    There are three trays of chemicals next too the enlarger. After shining the light on the photo paper, you put it in the developer bath for a minute, the stop bath for 30 seconds, then the fixer for two minutes, then you dry off your photograph.

    If it your photograph is too light, you didn't shine the light on it long enough, if it's too dark, then you did it for too long.

    That's really all there is, in essence.
     
  10. Skyhawk

    Skyhawk TPF Noob!

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    I'll definitely ditto what Ann said about smaller printing not necessarily being easier, nor more condusive to learning. In fact, I'd say just the opposite is true.

    As you're learning, it's a lot easier to see your mistakes as well as what you're doing right on a big glorious piece of 8x10 paper as opposed to a small 4x6.

    Now, as far as printing color in the future, a few thoughts about that.

    My first thought is "Don't waste your time or money." With today's photo labs in every Walgreens, CVS, WalMart, etc, it's hard to justify the costs of color printing. Having done a lot of color printing in college many moons ago, I thought it was interesting, but nothing frustrated me more than color printing. A lot of wasted time rolling the tube around or letting the rocker machine do it--only to pull it out and find out that I needed five more points of magenta or three less points of cyan.

    BUT . . . at the time (early to mid 80's), a color 8x10 was going for around six to eight dollars at the local Albertsons grocery store photo counter--and they had to ship your negative off to Qualex. At the local one-hour places in the mall, that same 8x10 would cost you right around ten bucks.

    So there was some cost savings to doing it yourself.

    But those days are pretty much over. I remember it costing me a lot more to buy all the chemicals, the tubes, roller, etc for color printing than it did b&w. About the only thing that was cheaper was the paper.

    I'd get a small, quality enlarger such as an Omega, Bessler, Saunders, and small 8x10 developing trays and start your operation off small-scale until you determine that you indeed have Dektol in your blood. Learn the basics on basic equipment and get good at that. Then, if you want to upgrade, you'll have a lot better idea of what you want/need.

    Good luck and enjoy.

    Jeff
     
  11. doobs

    doobs TPF Noob!

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    For archival qualities and a finer print, you may want to fix the paper for longer (I usually fix about 5 minutes) and dip the print into a tray of cool, running water to remove most of the fixer and then wash in an upright (or uncontaminated) print washer for about 5-10 minutes.
     
  12. ann

    ann No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    there is no need to wash RC papers for long periods of time, it is a wash of water.

    fiber is a different story, check Ilford's directions for archival processing.
     

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