In need of darkroom printing help

laurel91

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Hi there, I'm new to darkroom printing and I'm having some trouble. I'm printing bnw and using ilford multigrade developer. When I place my paper in the developer tray the image starts to appear after a few seconds however the whole paper then turns completely black and the image disappears after about 20 seconds - does anyone know what the problem might be? I've done test sheets, haven't used filters and my lens is set to 8 f-stop. I've also checked the paper hasn't been damaged by white light. I mixed the developer at 1:9. The developer could have been colder than the suggested 20 degree temp - could this be the problem? I'm not sure what else to try, any advice would be massively appreciated. Thanks!! Laurel
 

compur

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I've also checked the paper hasn't been damaged by white light.

How did you check that?

The usual cause for what you describe is light leaks in your darkroom.

You are doing this in a darkroom, right? (sorry, I had to ask)
 
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laurel91

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Thanks for your reply! To check the paper, I took one sheet out in total darkness and placed it in the developer for 1 minute in the dark. Then stop, then fix and turned on the lights. The paper didn't turn black. I read that this was a way to check, please correct me if I'm wrong.

Yes, I'm using a darkroom. I am pretty sure there's no light coming into the darkroom.

It's strange because the image does start to appear and then it darkens to black. The attached photo was taken out of the developer around 10 -20 seconds as it started to turn black. I left the other ones it for 1 min and they went completely black.
 

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dxqcanada

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Yes you are correct in checking for fogged paper.

If your neg image appears then just turns to black then I would say you are over exposing the paper.
Do you practice the technique of using test strips?
 
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laurel91

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Thanks, that's good to know.

Yes, I tried testing the exposure by increasing the amount of time I exposed each strip by 5 seconds each time, from 5-25 seconds. Do you think there could be something wrong with my enlarger? It's the first time I've used it? It's a Durst M302. Or could it be that there was something wrong with the way I mixed the developer? I used 60ml developer and 540 ml water. I tried to get the temp to 20 but was working in a cold garage so could have dropped down to 16 degrees or so.
 

dxqcanada

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With print test strips you expose a strip of paper in different times ... not change the development time.
 
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laurel91

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Sorry, that was a typo. I meant exposure. I covered 3/4 of the paper, turned the enlarger on for 5 seconds, covered 2/4 of the paper, turned on the enlarger for 10 secs etc.
 

dxqcanada

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Thanks for your reply! To check the paper, I took one sheet out in total darkness and placed it in the developer for 1 minute in the dark. Then stop, then fix and turned on the lights. The paper didn't turn black.

Just to make sure what you are saying ... the paper is pure white after fixing ?
 
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laurel91

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Yes, it looked pretty white to me. Attaching photo for reference - the white is after fixing and the black is after developing the negative.
 

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laurel91

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Yeah I brought the wrong sized paper for the easel. the easel is a single format 10x8 however I only had 5x7 paper. I didn't think this would make too much of a different to the final print, other than making it a little less neat. Do you think this could have been the problem? I don't have any examples of the test strips as they all turned black once I put them in the developer :s
 

chris

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If the test strips all turn black then they are all over exposed. Are you using the enlarger lens fully open? If yes then you need to close it down, probably worth trying at f8. Alternatively you could reduce the exposure time but you could end up at 1 sec or less which can be difficult to achieve accurately unless you have a suitable enlarger timer. You should aim to end up with a range of exposures on the test strips from under to over exposure and select the time for the final print to give the exposure that suits you best.
 
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laurel91

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Hi Chris, the lens was set to f8, I also tried f11 and I think f22. I didn’t expose for any less than 5 secs though so will give 1sec a go and see if that works. I’ll let you know how I get on, thank you!
 

compur

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I am pretty sure there's no light coming into the darkroom.

"pretty sure" isn't enough. If your darkroom has a light leak you'll never produce a good print no matter what else you do. You have to be 100% sure.

You may also have light leaking from your enlarger or a wrong safelight.
 

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