Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by Jus7 A Phas3, Oct 10, 2007.
Who uses them personly i use them but i feel like its a hassel. what about you guys?
If I have time and want a good looking print, I'll make 'em. (Which is most of the time). You end up wasting a bunch of paper, if not.
However, if I am pressed for time, I'll usually make one or two test strips and just wing my time/f-stop/filter changes from there. However, these prints don't usually come out as rich, full, or black as I expect them to. Many times, they look fine. I usually don't mind if I am printing from a toy camera or just some rolls from shooting up the neighborhood, but if they are a nice print that I'd like to show people, I'll do several test strips until I can get it how I want it.
- Slayer of the Mighty Dragon
I use them, too. However, I've noticed that the more I get to know my enlarger, the fewer strips I use since I know how the time/f-stop/filter combination works in my darkroom. I still do two or more strips, but my initial starting point is close to where I want to be.
IMO: They are a waste of time and paper and provide little information on the rest of the print. People argue that they help get a base exposure time, but I've seen them make 4-5 more prints to get that base exposure time on full sheets, then another 5-6 getting the dodge and burns.
By a simple method of called "out flanking" you can nail your base exposure on full sheets by the 3rd print and have information on a full print that assists in your dodge and burn and have the whole print nailed with no more than 5 sheets. No time wasted cutting strips, no time and paper wasted by making a dozen prints to get it right. Sure, it takes some practice and attention to detail, but what quality result doesn't?
"Out flanking"? I can't recall hearing this term before.
Can you expand on this, JC?
This sounds somewhat similar to what I try to do, I usually make one test strip with exposure intervals of 3 seconds and find the time I need. Then I base off that (contrast, added time, etc) and usually get a fine print with in 3-4 prints; sometimes less. I find this to work fine.
Densitometer to set base exposure. Saves a lot of time and money in wasted paper. I'll test strip a second filter over the base for split-filter work. But other than that, meh. I only test base exposure for mission-critical prints.
It takes some experience in being able to look at your negative and guess an approximate exposure for a given enlargment size, it is most helpful if you make consistant enlargment sizes or contact print.
For example, lets say you think the exposure should be 10 seconds, make it, and lets say it is too light. You may think the correct exposure time is 14, but don't make it at this go strong and make another print at 18. This print should be too dark. Typically the correct exposure lands in the middle somewhere, 13-15, could be 14 1/2 seconds. You will determine that with your third print. Now look at all 3 prints, you have full print information on base exposure, dodge and burn from those 3 prints. So, by your 5th or 6th print you should pretty much have it nailed.
Hope that helps,
I personally use test strips. I can guess an approx time, then I usually make a test around that. Thats what they taught me in school when I first started so its pretty routine. I can't even imagine how many sheets of paper I've gone through just in test strips. I've recently switched over to fiber from RC (which is killing my student budget but very worth it if you ask me) so I'm almost wishing I didn't use them. But I guess it is worth it.
My dad on the other hand, who dabbled in photo as a hobby, never made test strips and is convinced they are a waste.
I always use them. I pick an area of the exposure that best represents all my zones and start there. As someone else said, the more you get to know your enlarger, the less time it will take to begin nailing your prints.
When I started doing this twenty-five years ago, I could buy a box of Agfa FB paper for around $30. I was a starving college student, so I used test strips religiously. Now, as I get back into it, I still use test strips quite often.
always and forever. but i havnt been doing darkroom work much more than a couple months. i feel very comfortable with the darkroom, and how everything works, but i use test strips cause i dont want to waste a full sheet of photo paper or more to figure out the right exposure.
Usually I do a test for every print. Yesterday I tried something different. I just did one test, fine tuned a bit, and did the rest of the roll with that time as a benchmark. It actually worked out really well. It probably helped that it was a very consistent roll of film, but aside from some dodging and burning I was able to get usable prints with that benchmark time.
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