Monday, 19 March 2012

Prints to hard or to soft.

High contrast

What are the signs that a print has been printed to hard? The shadow areas are jet black with no detail and the highlights are blank  (the contrast is to great). Assuming that the negative being printed shows none of these traits then it can be corrected by the following:

         Use a softer grade of paper.
         Make sure that the exposure time is correct.
         The paper is in the developer for the right amount of time.
         Don't use a high contrast developer.
Low contrast
What signs make a soft print? It looks grey and foggy with little punch. No contrast. In this case it is almost the opposite to the above.

         Use a harder grade of paper.
         Increase the developing time. If the development time is to short it may cause cloudy spots.
         Make sure the developer is not too diluted.
         Also check that it is not exhausted. 

There are other possibilities:

         Your darkroom may not be light tight fogging the paper creating an overall grey cast.
         The paper maybe to old or has not been stored properly. 

Once you establish what the problem is, the cure will speak for it's self.

Related posts:

Evaluating your test strips
Darkroom fog.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Dust, dust and more dust.

Dust! Don't you just love the way it manages to settle on to your equipment just as you make that all important exposure? The more you fiddle about picking every speck off, those bits 'standing in the wings' charge in at increasing speed  towards  your lens, negative and light sensor; so begins a  never ending battle fought everyday over the same territory! Should someone   come up  with a device that will send those particles packing you'll feel your prayers have been answered.

Welcome the Zerostat gun! one shot and those pesky particles are de-charged and falling from your lens etc. But come on! Can this really be true? Well No! after a few days of using this device I discovered that it attracted more dust than ever before! It was a nice idea while it lasted. Needless to say that this pistol has been consigned to history.

Really the only way to keep these little white specks from appearing on your final pictures is to be methodical in your approach. Checking your camera, lenses and enlarger regularly. But before you start this process it is a good idea to de-charge yourself by touching something that is earthed this will take the static out of your body and stop to some extent the static building up in the item you are trying to de-dust. Whatever you do don't use a cloth to clean your film strip, the static this induces will attract every bit of hair and dust in the universe turning it into a hair ball. If this happens its time to find another negative to print. I find that a puffer brush and a Kinetronice antistatic whisk brush work the best- in most cases removing the particle/s and hair in one go without a lot of fuss. Less fuss means more pictures printed with less spotting once the photograph is dry.

Remember never touch the bristle of your brush with bare fingers this will transfer microscopic particles of grease which will then be deposited to whatever you are trying to clear, making the job more difficult and in the case of old lenses will attack the coating.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

A favorite photograph.

Taken at the grand Prix de I'A.C.F.
Like a lot of people I enjoy watching the Grand Prix. By coincidence one of my favorite pictures is by the turn of the century french photographer Jacques-henri Lartigue.

He took this picture while he was still quite young. It is one in a series of a 169 shots taken at the Grand Prix de I'A.C.F. using the comparatively large Ica reflex camera with Zeiss 1:4.5 150mm lens onto a 3 1/2" x 4 1/4" glass negative it had a top mounted focusing screen and a focal plan shutter, it is this set up that accounts for the elliptical shape of the wheel. For me it is the feature that conveys the excessive speed the car is travelling more than his panning of this heavy camera to emphasize the rate of progress.. Originally he thought this picture was a failure because he had not been able to capture the whole car in the frame. This is the other part of the composition that adds to the sense of great speed. It is one picture I do not get tired of looking at, I always wonder what it would have been like to stand there as these early cars thundered by.