What am I doing wrong???

MrEd31

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I have used your HP5+ film in a class I took at my high school. I had great results, but was interested in trying the FP4+. Recently I found a local darkroom and started working on my own. I developed a roll of FP4+, but I have had no luck printing with it. The negatives look decent to me... however they appear to be "double-sided". One side is lighter than the other, but I'm thinking this is the way the film is made.
Anyways, when I attempt to make a contact sheet, I just get the outline of the negatives on the paper. And when I attempt to make a print, the light becomes incredibly dull, even though is bright before the negative and carrier are in. Any suggestions as to what I'm doing wrong? The darkroom is in an art center and nobody there knows anything about it. Any help or advice would be appreciated. Thanks so mcuh for your time.

-Jason Edelstein
 

oriecat

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What do you mean by double-sided? :?: Film generally (always?) has a shiny side and a dull side. The dull side is the side with the emulsion. You should always use it emulsion side down.

What do you mean by the outlines? Like you are just getting a totally black paper but with like the writing on the side of the film showing up? Have you tried shortening your exposure time? Did you do a test strip? What f/stop are you using?

I also don't understand what you mean by the light becoming dull when you put the negative carrier in. When you put a negative in, the image is now being shone through the enlarger, the negative blocking the path of the light, so of course the light is going to change. Do you see the image of the negative on the enlarger board or the easel?

Sorry if these questions are dumb, I just want to help and don't know how else to other than to see what you are thinking and trying to do...

(edit to correct a bad mistake!)
 

oriecat

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motcon says dense and the lightbulb :idea: goes on... Ah the outlines! So instead of all black, like I was thinking, you're getting little white boxes where there should be pictures? My thinking is so backwards tonight... so ignore what I said about shortening exposure...
 
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MrEd31

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I used D-76, at 75º for 5min 15seconds I believe...

In this dark room, it was difficult to get cool temps. I used ice, and cooled everything, but maybe I need to get it cooler/ cut the time even more?

When I put the carrier in, the image on the easel is sooooo faint, you can barely see it...

Any suggestions?
 

motcon

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let's go through some of orie's questions:

what aperture are you using on the enlarger? what size print are you trying to make?

there are ways to reduce the density of a neg, but they are risky. before i go into them, let's tackle the basic stuff first.
 
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MrEd31

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I openned the aperture all the way to try and focus the grain. Even with it open all the way, I couldn't see much of anything, reguardless of the size of the print, whether I tried at 5x7 or 8x10. With the aperture open quite a bit (not sure what f/stop), the negatives on the contact sheet where completely paper white at 25 seconds.

thanx so much for the help...
 

motcon

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ok, well...without seeing them, they appear to be both overexposed and quite possibly overdeveloped as well, although i can't see anything wrong with your time/temp, unless your dev dilution was way outta whack.

i typically shoot fp4 at an ei of 80 and develop normally. my negs are very printable. to have everything block up as to be unprinatable, you'd have to overexpose quite a bit; 3 stops or so.

soooo; dense negs. unless the negs are very valuable and can not be redone, i'd advise against trying to reduce them as the process isn't for the faint of heart. if you want to attempt to reduce, here ya go:

if you are not getting ANY exposure on your paper through the negative, then a proportional reducer is a good start. a pottassium ferracyanide based reducer should be used. farmer's reducer (bleach) is an off the shelf reducer. i recommend diluting the stock mixture, put a bit in a small bowl, and try it with a single frame from your roll. when i have done this, i would hold the very corner of the negative, but make sure the frame is fully in the mixture. gently move the negative back and forth in the bleach. every couple of seconds, take it out for a quick look. it is important that you do not bleach to the exact point that 'looks good' as the bleach will continue to work when you remove it. immediately put into a running bath. i recommend a short refix after you are done. it is also a wise idea to keep a bowl of water next to your bleach. when i think i'm getting close to the right density, i will agitate it in the water to slow down the bleach so i can get a better look at the neg. if it isn't done, back into the bleach it goes.

this is a very tricky and delicate process. it is typically done as a last ditch effort to save a neg and more often than not, doesn't work to complete satisfaction.
 
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MrEd31

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This has been a great help. My guess is that I didn't dilute the developer properly. Beginner's mistake.

I'm not farmiliar with the term "ei". Also, If you don't mind explaining in real general terms how you shoot with this film, that would be great. I'm think I am confused as to when I have overexposed negatives as compared to overdeveloped negatives.

I'm going to try the bleach tecnique as these were pictures I took in Wash D.C., about a 12 hour drive from my home in Boston. Thanx for that tip as well.
 

motcon

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MrEd31 said:
This has been a great help. My guess is that I didn't dilute the developer properly. Beginner's mistake.

I'm not farmiliar with the term "ei". Also, If you don't mind explaining in real general terms how you shoot with this film, that would be great. I'm think I am confused as to when I have overexposed negatives as compared to overdeveloped negatives.

I'm going to try the bleach tecnique as these were pictures I took in Wash D.C., about a 12 hour drive from my home in Boston. Thanx for that tip as well.

ei means exposure index. if you shoot the film at anything other than the speed printed on the box, it is called an 'ei'.

i can't easily tell you how i personally shoot with this film as it took me a very long time to calibrate. i can give highlights:

1) i shoot fp4 at an ei of 80
2) as a rule, i place my shadow values on zone 3.
3) i develop in pmk pyro. this holds highlight detail extraordinarily well.


an overexposed negative will pretty much be dense in both shadows and highlights.

an normally exposed negative overdeveloped will be very contrasty with your highlights clogged up (dense highlights with ok shadows).

overexposed AND overdeveloped, well, you get the picture (pretty much shot).
 

oriecat

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From Basic Techniques of Photography: An Ansel Adams Guide by John P Schaefer:

"The manufacturer's ASA or ISO number should be used as a guide only until you have enough experience to assign your own film speed (we will call this your exposure index or EI) based on how the film responds to your equipment and your way of processing and printing the film. Your camera may have lenses with poorer light-transmission characteristics than are indicated on the dial, or slower shutter speeds than those used by the manufacturer, and your darkroom procedures may differ substantially from theirs; all of these factors may make your effective film speed different from the speed given by the manufacturer. Through experience or actual testing, you will learn how to adjust recommended ASA or ISO values to arrive at an exposure index appropriate to your equipment and techniques."
 
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MrEd31

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This is all interesting stuff. I have been using a 30+ year old Maranda Camera that belongs to my father. It isn't a surprise that the speeds and such aren't necesarily working properly. I will have to think about shooting at a different ei.

As for agitation, I agitate the first 10 or 15 seconds and then 5 seconds every 30 seconds...

I'm thinking about purchasing a new camera. You guys have given me such good information already, I figure you wouldn't mind answering another. I looked around online. There sure are lots of cameras out there. I'm leaning toward a manual camera as I like operate everything myself. I've used a Nikon N80 a little and even on the manual settings, I find it very cluttered with features and what not. I'm leaning toward something more like the Nikon FM10. Any suggestions would be appreciated...
 

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