Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Trimming prints a method

I don't know about you but over the years I have found no matter how careful I am setting the printing paper in the easel before exposure, it can still come out wrong. I'm talking about making sure the the picture is parallel to the sides of the paper. It is something we all have to deal with at some point. The problem being you can not tell this until the paper has been processed by which time it is to late.

This means that the paper has to be trimmed true again. To allow for this I have increased the margins around the printed area and even the size of the paper. Which I think is a waste as I would prefer to use the whole sheet to print on. But aesthetically speaking I think the margin around the picture adds to the overall effect and stops finger marks getting on the image. Which leads on to another skill that needs to be mastered, the art of trimming your print parallel. At one time it did not matter what I did I could not get it right, that is until a friend introduced me to the cut edge principle. This is where you use the freshly trimmed edge as your straight edge for the next cut and so on round the print. Wow! what a difference it has made over the years.

The knowledge of this method has helped with the trimming of my FB prints that I stick to a pane of glass so they dry flat - described here in another article. 

Saturday, 19 July 2014

RO9 Rodinal film Develper

Having used up all the ID11 on the four film project and a backlog of exposed film building up, I thought it was about time I break out 'my something for the weekend' developer. I have always kept a backup developer for those occasions when I get caught out. This time I reached for a small bottle of RO9/ Rodinal. This little bottle has been on the shelf for years and in that time it has slowly turned to a rich red brown colour. This single shot developers keeping qualities are legendary. Silverprint has a forty year old bottle that they use from time to time! It still produces good quality negatives, so my 'youngster' should have no problems.

RO9/ Rodinal is not classed as a fine grain developer. It is famous for it's contrast control and flexibility. It's high acutance produces very sharp looking negatives a bit like sharpening a digital file in Photoshop.
It's character to a certain extent is governed by it's dilution.
For example:
  • 1+10 will develop ortho film.
  • 1+25 produces high contrast negatives and the most obvious grain.
  • 1+50 Is the standard dilution producing crisp, normal contrast negatives, with slightly more grain than a fine grain developer.
  • 1+75 and 1+100 will render high contrast negatives as normal.
  • 1+300 can be used with document type films.

This is another developer I have not really used before so when I picked a Fomapan 100 ISO 100 to try it out on there is a little first use nerves! - How will the negatives look? How much is a little more grain than a fine grain developer? Is the time suggested going to produce well toned negatives? All questions that cannot be properly answered until the film has been fixed. My mantra is “keep it simple” and chose the standard dilution 1+50 as this comes close to the development time I use for ID11, which means I can compare these neg's against the ID11 negatives.

I used my long standing agitation method, although on the bottle it gives a different one. Agitate for the first thirty seconds and then tilt the tank at thirty second intervals.

I have used this developer with FP4+,Fomapan 100 and the Rollei 400s and again I'm having trouble with the latter. The other two have presented nicely toned negatives that have been easy to print. They are slightly more grainy than the ID11 negatives I am use to. But you would not think so when you look at the prints, I'm hard pressed to see a difference when comparing them side by side.

The pictures that appear with this article have been scanned from 9 x 12 prints produced on Kentmere variable contrast paper RC. I have found that grade two works better with these negatives than my usual grade three. This maybe down to its contrast controlling attributes. I have also used a couple of negative with the split grade method and again no appreciable difference. I do all my test prints on RC papers and then do my final prints on FB papers. Here again there has been no sign’s of increased grain.

All the pictures were developed in a mature Ilford multigrade developer - by mature I mean at least a month old, that has been replenished once or twice. I find that the prints take on a warmer tone than those first produced in the developer when fresh. It also takes longer for the first signs of the print to appear when fresh, about ten or so seconds and as it matures twenty seconds or so. This is not a method for the faint hearted as it can deplete very quickly in a matter of one print to the next. I have been caught out and ended up with a print that does not fully develop.

Overall I am very pleased with the negatives RO 9 presents. Yes they are more grainy but that does not translate to the final print. While I was looking into the use of RO9 Rodinal I came across a gentleman that has indicated that the original Rodinal could be used as a print developer and it was the exception to the rule in this respect. Does anyone know differently? 

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Ansel Adams BBC Master Photographers (1983)

This interview by the BBC with Ansel Adam is one of the best I've seen. 
It is where he talks about his work and how he manipulates his negatives to replicate his vision of the scene. He makes two telling comments one about bracketing, this is where three pictures of the same scene are made at different setting and secondly about allowing certain parts of the picture to go completely black removing all detail. 

Friday, 4 July 2014

Four Film Positive results


Figure 1
Before any of my negatives see the enlargers negative carrier they all get contact printed, for me this is the first indication of how they may print when enlarged and for some the only time they become a positive. It also serves as a reference.

The contact prints for the Adox and Rollei show under development, to what extent will only become clear when the test strips are produced. The Fomapan 100 and the FP4+ show as well toned. In the case of Ilfords FP4+ it may be over developed.

Once more I step into the the red world of the darkroom and the smell of chemicals. Only there are none! The developer, stop and fix need to be mixed a fresh. This is due to a problem with the fix turning the slot of the Nova processor black. Still not completely sure why!
Figure 2

 I set the light boxes height on the enlarger so it will  generate a print 9”x 12” in size. This means the the 6x6  negatives are going to be brutally cropped; maybe that  should be less dramatic and say 'creatively cropped' to  fit  a landscape format but also serves to increase the  magnification.

 I have set the enlarging lens to F8. All the negatives  will be exposed at this setting, it allows a comparison  to be made as to how over or under developed they  maybe with each other. In the past when F8 is set I  find that it gives me a time in the region of 30+  seconds exposure time. Which for me is about average.

Figure 3
I have set grade two and a half to start with, if this proves to be to hard I'll drop it to two. The paper being used is silverproof matt limited grade paper. Being limited does not mean it has not got a full range of tones. It also provides a certain look to the prints that I like.

The first negatives to be exposed are the Fomapan 100. Looking down the focus finder the film  has a regular fine grain making it quite easy to get it pin sharp. The test strips for these negatives are indicating an exposure of twenty one seconds. The picture of the  woods (Fg1) was to hard for the 2.5 grade I set, so reduced it to 2 for the second exposure. Figure 2  the shadow of the tree reflected in the  puddle. Printed straight, was a little flat, so I printed it a second time at grade 2 but burnt in (added exposure)  to the areas around the puddle to lift the puddle area.

Figure 4
Figure 5
The next negatives to be exposed were from the Adox film. Looking down the focus finder to sharpen these negatives brought a smile  as it looked like someone had gone mad and splattered the grain on by flicking a brush. This may have been the result of under development. The test strips were also saying that the negatives were thin, suggesting an exposure of ten seconds, half that of the Fomapan. The two negatives from the Adox film are the complete opposites to each other. The fence post picture (Fg 3) had no detail I could see in the shadow when held up to the light. So when it was being exposed  I dodged the shadow area for a couple of second to stop it blacking right out.  Once it had dried I was surprised to see lots of detail. The two tree picture (Fg 4) was always going to be a landscape crop as there was to much foreground in the negative. It also looked the best picture negative wise.
Figure 6

The Rollei 400s was up next I had trouble picking two negatives that I could see enough of to print. These negatives were thinner than the Adox with some of the frames not showing at all. When looking  through the focus finder at the grain it revealed it to be patchy and shows up on the prints as white blotches. Lack of  proper development is evident maybe?. The picture of the rain on the window (Fg5) was a difficult print to get right.  Keeping the detail, what there is of it, of the door handle and leaf on the left. It was down to six seconds of exposure. The cat (Fg6) picture was the same six seconds but shows up the blotchy grain more. If I had shut the enlarging lens down to F11 or F16 I would have had more time to manipulate how the pictures looked by dodging and burning.

The last negatives to be worked on were the FP4+. Looking down the focus
Figure 7
finder it displayed a fine regular pattern I have come to expect from this film when developed in ID11. I had been looking forward to printing them but was thrown when the test strip revealed that a thirty second exposure was no where near enough. A further two tests revealed a time in the region of fifty seconds. You could say they were the best developed or over developed depending how you look at things. I printed an number of negatives from this film. I was really taken by the smooth tones of the pictures and the intensity of the sky. It was a bright, warm cloud less day. The prints show what a great morning it was at the bridge.  Figure seven showing the superstructure of the bridge gives a good indication as how good the sky was and Figure eight gives a good idea of how strong the sun was. Both pictures were printed at grade two but could quite easily have taken a softer grade.

Figure 8


I am disappointed that the Rollei 400 was not developed correctly, I know it can produce some very smooth well toned negatives which would have lead to some great prints. As for Adox film, I am coming to the conclusion that we do not mix as this is the second time it has failed to present a good set of neg's. The Fomapan 100 classic was a surprise, if you are looking for a substitute for FP4+ then you will not go far wrong with this emulsion in my opinion. I have noticed that it is slightly more grainy than the FP4+ if you have to burn in the high lights heavily. I use both these films regularly now in rotation as their characteristics are almost identical.

Links to others from series in case you missed them.