No contrast with graded RC paper

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by darin3200, Jul 13, 2005.

  1. darin3200

    darin3200 TPF Noob!

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    A while back I bought 50 sheets of 11x14 Ilford IV Contrast RC paper. It hasn't given any great results so far. The problem I am having is that when I use my 8x10 warmtone Ilford I get great prints with the darks being dark and the lights being light. However, with this graded paper the prints are all different shades of dark, or all different shades of light and totally lacking in contrast.
    Is there anything I can do to get more contrast out of the paper?
     
  2. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    When you say 'Graded' do you mean that the paper is marked Grade 1, Grade 2, etc.?
    If it is, then what Grade are you using? If you are using G2 this is normal so poor contrast could be a neg thing.
    The developer (and it's temperature - 20C) can sometimes have an effect too.
     
  3. darin3200

    darin3200 TPF Noob!

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    The paper is "Multigrade 4"
     
  4. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Ah-ha. It's Multigrade.
    What you need to do is start with a 2 filter. This is normal in terms of contrast.
    Do a test strip and process in fresh developer at 20C.
    Process for a full 90secs (this is the usual time for RC but check the dev techspec to make sure) agitating all the while.
    Stop and fix.
    See what results you get.
    If the temp of your paper dev drops below about 15C one of the components stops working and you don't get blacks.
    If you aren't getting a good tonal range and blacks at least somewhere on the test strip then it is almost certainly a neg problem.
    Just to be on the safe side strip your enlarger and make sure all the glass is clean.
    Oil, dust, fingerprints and such cause flare and will reduce contrast.
    Let me know the outcome.
     
  5. darin3200

    darin3200 TPF Noob!

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    The developer was at 20.4C so I made the test strip and did developer for 90 sec and got nothing, blank white. I made a new batch of developer 2 days ago and had it in a plastic container, the developer was about 2cm deep and then there was 10cm of space above and then a lid I put on when it wasn't being used. The developer was less clear and a much deeper yellow than usual. I'm not sure if the air mixed with the developer but it wasn't working. I made a new batch of developer and the test strip came out good with a lot better contrast than before. I had made a test strip yesterday but with a 3 filter but I think the problems I had with that were caused by the bad developer.
     
  6. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    The basis of black and white development is a Redox reaction. The main components of developers oxidise realy quickly given the chance. With such a small quantity of developer in a big container this may have been what happened.
    Most developers are still OK, though, even when they have turned yellow. You don't usualy get problems until it goes brown.
    You might have got it contaminated. Dev works in an alkaline solution. Only a small amount of acid can be enough to neutralise it and cause it to stop working.
    Keeping the amount of air in your dev storage container to a minimum is always a good idea - especialy if it's going to be sitting around for a bit.
    I have seen and heard of many methods for doing this.
    The best one I came across was to use marbles or glass pebbles. As the level of dev goes down you put the marbles in to raise the level back up to the top. When the dev has all gone, wash the marbles and re-use. Only works for small bottles, though. A gallon of marbles weighs a fair bit.
     
  7. darin3200

    darin3200 TPF Noob!

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    I'm flat out of developer now so I bought some Arista cold-tone from freestyle and in the description it also says "Very resistant to oxidation for long life in trays and machines. " But I'll still store it in better containers, I've found that starbucks frappucino bottles work well because they're small, glass, and before being used in the darkroom, coffee-filled. :)
     

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