Low contrast prints

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by Smilemon, May 27, 2008.

  1. Smilemon

    Smilemon TPF Noob!

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    I've always used Arista EDU glossy paper in my photo class. I recently switched to Ilford matte paper (really not sure the actual names of either). The new prints have been very low contrast. Its sort of annoying. They have this grayish hue to them. I don't think they are getting fogged because the borders are nice and white... I've only done 2 prints so far so I've got some guess and check to do before I get my style down but its frustrating.
     
  2. Steph

    Steph No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Did you use graded or VC papers? I found that different VC papers offer different contrasts with the same filtration.
     
  3. ann

    ann No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    matt papers have a lower dmax which will appear as a lack of contrast.

    what grade are you using, what is youir development time?
    we would beed more information to be more helpful
     
  4. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    Ilford paper...ewww.

    I'll use G3 ilfospeed gloss every once in a while for a quick print and Ilfobrom on rare occasions, but I otherwise detest their papers. They're just flat and muddy, with density curves sharper than razor blades.
     
  5. Smilemon

    Smilemon TPF Noob!

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    Hmm... I really need to print a few more pictures to make sure I'm being constant about things but probably about.
    3 min dev.
    1 min rinse (water).
    4 or 5 min fix.
    rinse till I feel like taking it out.
     
  6. ann

    ann No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    ok, but what paper grade are you using

    and is this fiber or rc paper.

    if it is fiber and you have been using rc, it will never have the brightness your use to seeing as it has no added brighters.

    also, if rc there is no need for a 5 minute fixer , 1 minute is fine.

    washing until you feel like it. ugh.
    rc a few minutes, fiber an hour unless your using hypo clear and then following the directions on the HCA
     
  7. Smilemon

    Smilemon TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, its RC paper. I'm used to using the nice photo lab at school and my darkroom is a little ghetto. I've only printed 2 pictures and it could very well be that the pictures needed contrast filters, it was a pretty bland shot...

    I'll work on some more stuff sunday and get back to you guys.
     
  8. ann

    ann No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    since we have yet to find out which paper grade your using i am going to take a jump and assume your not using a filter.
    the paper defaults at about a grade 2, which is not the same as what it would look like if you used a grade 2 filter.
    to add contrast after development you will need to boost the contrast by moviong up the scale with paper grades.
    one doesn't need a fancy darkroom to make great images. you should check out the photos of Edward Weston's darkroom!
     
  9. Smilemon

    Smilemon TPF Noob!

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    I really have no clue what paper grade is... It was never covered in my photo class, we were just given a box of paper and film and told to figure it out. Can you give me an overview?

    I am not using a filter but my enlarger is an omega color head, I have never really used filters much but I've been told that magenta increases contrast and yellow decreases it?
     
  10. ann

    ann No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    oh lord, help me.
    that is really too bad your insturctor did that to you, but your not alone. happens all too often.

    anyway. you have a color head which can be a good thing.

    you need to go to the box of paper and there should be a spec sheet that will give you a recommendation for how to setting the magenta/yellow dials. you donot use cyan with black and white printing. these numbers are just a guide line, and you will tweak for personal results.

    null out all dials. start with about 30 magenta and see how you like that contrast.

    filters basically adjust the contrast of the print, and when people first start doing black and white their negatives tend to bounce all over the place which makes using filters, or in your case the dials on the enlarger helpful with adjusting for too much contrast or not enough.

    years ago paper was made in contrast, which meant one bought whatever grade paper they needed, which is fine when your negatives are consistent and so one only kept 1 or 2 grades handy. with the advent of multi contrast papers now one uses filters to adjust the contrast. the paper is made with light sensisitive layers with react to the colors of the filters.

    for instance i use only grade 3 paper, but i make my negatives to fit the paper grade and light souce but i have been doing this a very long time and trust that my negatives are exactly what i need.

    i would suggest you take a negative that has been well exposed and your spec sheet make a print at each of the recommendations for paper contrast. put them on the wall , or in a book so you can refer to them when you are not sure about how or which contrast you really need for a specific negative.

    working with consistent tools makes the darkroom so much more fun and easy than bouncing around all over the place. It just takes a bit of practice to bring you along to that poing.
     
  11. ann

    ann No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    ps. just remembered something

    when you boost the contrast past 3.5 you will need to increase the time as well.

    the manufacture recommends 100 % increase in time ,but in our lab i have found we start at 50% as 100 is too much.

    the spec sheet also sugest that the time is the same from 00 to 3.5, but they may or not be true. you really have to test and see what works for you.
    keep carefull notes so you can go back and create exactly the contrast you want . you will not remember if you don't jot it down.
    with a dial in head the number can really be anything you like. after all it is just a number. it is good to start with the spec sheet as a guide line but that doesn't mean that 30 is what works for you, it might be 33 or 40 really doesn't make any differnece.

    with a set of filters you have only what they are numbered nothing in between.

    hope this all makes some sense for you.
     
  12. Early

    Early TPF Noob!

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    I don't think you ever answered as to whether it's graded paper or variable contrast you are using. If it's graded, filters won't do you any good.

    Also, 3 minutes in the developer seems like an awful long time. I'm thinking more like 90 sec. for RC papers, at least for Ilford and Kodak. It could be what giving you such low contrast. It's been awhile, so I may be wrong.:er:

    I would also go with a quick 10 sec stop bath before fixing to nip the development in the bud. But that seems to be a wasted move with some printers today.:)
     

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