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Help needed in buying Dark room equipment


Guest NEIL-D-WILLIAMS
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Choices are good.  And not everyone's results, goals and assessments - even when using the same gear and/or processes - are the same.  As always, thankfully.

 

Jeff

Today I would not even dream of making color prints. My greatest respect to those who can do it well.

If I were to try to do the good color printing I demand, I would be institutionalized in a year.

I am that bad.

 

OTOH, black and white is my forte. I know of only one accomplished photographer who does straight,

not manipulated (no dodging, no burning, no pre-flashing) and he has earned his reputation by

that. Good for him, but not so good for the new photographer whose vision is not so well honed.

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I am doing both - B&W and color printing. I was fortunate enough to get hold on a second Beseler diffuser-based enlarger with color head for color prints which I develop with the RA-4 process.

Regarding enlargers, yes, you can do B&W and color prints with such color-head based enlarger. But it is not the same B&W printing without additional adjustments compared to a traditional condenser based enlarger. The contrast between both types of enlargers is shown differently in the developed B&W print - but you can adjust the settings with the color head based enlarger to make it look very similar. I decided to keep two enlargers - one Beseler 45M (condenser-based) for B&W only, and the Beseler 67S II for color prints.

 

I am only using contrast filters if absolutely necessary for B&W prints. Filters for color prints are already within the color head - yellow, magenta, and blue. For color prints, leave the blue alone in zero position and start with 60 for yellow and 60 for magenta. Adjust the settings after making a test print.

 

The largest prints I am making are 14x11" - I am limited in space in my dry darkroom, and this is the maximum size of easel I can fit in underneath each enlarger. I am mostly using 35mm format negatives - here you need a 50 mm enlarger lens. I am using a Wollensak 50 mm Raptar lens on my 45M enlarger, and a Nikkor 50/2.8 EL-enlarger lens on my 67S II enlarger. I bought the Nikkor 50/2.8 EL lens for about $30 used in excellent condition on ebay since the original lens of this enlarger suffered from fungus inside the lens elements.

 

For digital negatives which I print in 4x5" size, I am using a Wollensak 162 mm Raptar lens on my Beseler 45M enlarger. This focal length is also suitable for medium format negative prints.

 

I am using two timers (one I got for free, the other one I bought for $30 in mint condition on Amazon):both are Time-O-Lite models. I wouldn't go crazy here investing in high end ones......

Thank you, Martin. Can you please describe your digital negative workflow? I've been looking at producing inkjet negatives on Pictorico or Inkpress transparency film, but am still at the thinking stage.

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Thank you, Martin. Can you please describe your digital negative workflow? I've been looking at producing inkjet negatives on Pictorico or Inkpress transparency film, but am still at the thinking stage.

 

The most tricky part here is to get the printer calibrated to the chemical developer and the photosensitive paper. I would consider this step one of the most challenging which I encountered with darkroom stuff. It took me several weeks to learn and try&error here. In the end I got it to work very well with my Canon PIXMA-100 inkjet printer, Dektol as developer and Ilford RC and fiber B&W print papers. You need to do test prints using a grey scale calibration table as shown below - on the left is the digital table, on the right the best print result which came closest to the original grey scales shown in the table on the left. It is really a pain to get to this point - slight changes in the tonal adjustment curve make a big difference and can shift easily to fade out some greys and to see too much of black. In my opinion it is impossible to achieve a 1:1 result compared to the original (digital) grey scales, but you get close. 

 

You need first to transform your digital B&W photo into a digital negative - which means you invert the color channels, adjust the size (I am using 4x5" digital negative size since my Beseler 45M enlarger can manage large format negatives) and apply the tonal adjustment curve which is your created calibration curve. The inverted photo will always look much brighter on your monitor screen after you applied this curve but this is correct. You then have to print it on transparent foil - I also use Pictorico foil. Print as large as you can (whatever your enlarger can manage as largest negative size). 

 

p327205836-5.jpg

 

A final print from a digital negative can look like this :)

 

p1502991485-5.jpg

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The most tricky part here is to get the printer calibrated to the chemical developer and the photosensitive paper. I would consider this step one of the most challenging which I encountered with darkroom stuff. It took me several weeks to learn and try&error here. In the end I got it to work very well with my Canon PIXMA-100 inkjet printer, Dektol as developer and Ilford RC and fiber B&W print papers. You need to do test prints using a grey scale calibration table as shown below - on the left is the digital table, on the right the best print result which came closest to the original grey scales shown in the table on the left. It is really a pain to get to this point - slight changes in the tonal adjustment curve make a big difference and can shift easily to fade out some greys and to see too much of black. In my opinion it is impossible to achieve a 1:1 result compared to the original (digital) grey scales, but you get close. 

 

You need first to transform your digital B&W photo into a digital negative - which means you invert the color channels, adjust the size (I am using 4x5" digital negative size since my Beseler 45M enlarger can manage large format negatives) and apply the tonal adjustment curve which is your created calibration curve. The inverted photo will always look much brighter on your monitor screen after you applied this curve but this is correct. You then have to print it on transparent foil - I also use Pictorico foil. Print as large as you can (whatever your enlarger can manage as largest negative size).

 

A final print from a digital negative can look like this :)

Wow! Thank you for the effort you put into this response, Martin. I guess it's a bit ironic that it goes from digital to inkjet to wet print to end up back as a digital jpeg for this forum, but many of the best things in life have a hint of the ironic. From a subjective standpoint, what do you see in your wet print that was different to direct inkjet printing?

I've been interested in this process since I first saw this clip (noting that it is contact printing)...

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I've been interested in this process since I first saw this clip (noting that it is contact printing)...

 

 

You might be interested in Carl Weese's work, described here....  http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2014/09/printing-with-digital-negatives.html

 

Note also the link within the link, from which Carl borrowed, but simplified... http://www.alternativephotography.com/wp/negatives/digital-negatives

 

Jeff

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Guest NEIL-D-WILLIAMS

Thank you, Jeff! You are like Google with an added Gamma Channel for Quality.

 

Greatly appreciated.

I second that Eoin. Had it not been for Jeff I would be shooting exculpating with an iPhone now.

A great sieve of knowledge and someone who is willing to share that same knowledge.......,

Out with the Hassie today shooting so B&W

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Just time on my hands in retirement. But happy to get comments to offset the folks who have put me on their ignore list.

 

Neil, I get my exercise just trying to keep up with you.

 

Jeff

No chance of you ever going on my ignore list. The information you posted about Image Print 10 which helped me buy a copy to drive my P800 has turned out to be a great investment. My printing is better and easier. Have many recent pictures on the walls which many years ago was what the hobby was all about. When I first got interested in taking pictures 50+ years ago it was all about making a 20 X 16 print and putting it on display. My hobby has taken me back in time ! And in this case for the better.

BrianP

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+1.

Grumpy members? I often think it is more the way it is typed rather than true grumpiness.

"Ignore list"? I didn't even know we had one. And in the end, we are all here to learn, I'm the first to admit I am still learning.

Keep expounding the info Jeff, and everyone else.

Gary

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Wow! Thank you for the effort you put into this response, Martin. I guess it's a bit ironic that it goes from digital to inkjet to wet print to end up back as a digital jpeg for this forum, but many of the best things in life have a hint of the ironic. From a subjective standpoint, what do you see in your wet print that was different to direct inkjet printing?

I've been interested in this process since I first saw this clip (noting that it is contact printing)...

 

The Pt/Pd printing shown in the video is a very different beast itself, but yes, he also uses digital negatives for contact printing. My process still uses the enlarger and does not rely on contact printing (even this is another possibility). I simply can't achieve with my inkjet printer the same amount of contrast which I am getting from the digital negative process. Silver gelatin B&W prints simply are not the same as inkjet prints no matter what others claim. I agree you can get close, but not to the same result. 

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FWIW, Carl Weese, whom I referenced above, prints using several different methods... http://www.carlweese.com/about-the-prints.html 

 

The results have as much to do with the printer (the person) as the process....probably more...IMO.  

 

I'm sure Carl can get results that few of us can.  So I would tend to avoid any comment that pits one process against another (even though Carl does just that when commenting about his digital color vs color film work).  Depends who's running the process.

 

Jeff

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cheers mate........B&H have a good buying guide for Darkroom equipment.

After reading there article I think I will be better off sticking with B&W and scanning color negs

 

 

Almost the same.  Color photo with digital camera.  Why put an extra step in there?

 

I am reopening my darkroom soon.   Son is going to get lessons at his request.

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