Saturday, 10 December 2016

What can Contact prints tell you.

I have written on this subject before outlining the advantages of making a contact print for your negatives. The subject has come to the fore because a recent example shows that the negatives are poorly exposed and possibly have a higher than normal amount of contrast.

 So where to start? With the sheet of negatives. The first thing you notice about them is that they are well developed with good tone and detail but on the dense side, meaning they could be over exposed. Something that can sometimes be difficult to judge from the neg's only.
The contact print is saying that the negatives are well and truly over exposed and over developed meaning that to get a balanced image is going to require a longer than normal exposure . It is also suggesting that the images are hard (a lot of contrast) How much will not become apparent until the segmented test print has been produced.

My normal exposure set up for the enlarger is F8 at grade 3 this is my datum point to which I judge how well I have exposed and developed the film. The first test print confirms that the negatives are very over exposed, requiring a second test because the results are so weak. I must admit that I was a bit blasé with my pinhole camera exposure times. This camera tends to bring the worst out in me when it comes to proper control but then it is all part of the fun.

I have already compensated for the longer exposure time by opening up the enlarging lens to F5.6 doubling the amount of light I would usually need. I also know that the contrast is higher than normal from a previous set of exposed photographs. It is to do with the Studional I used to develop the negatives in. A previous session showed that the softer grade 2 would give better results.

Without the contact print I would have spent much longer in the darkroom making test prints to find what the base exposure should be, if I had not been pre warned. It also indicated that the completely white looking skies would require a lot of burning in to bring the detail out shown on the negatives.

For me making a contact print ensures that I get the most out of my printing session. It allows me to preplan what I need to do to get the best out of each negative without wasting a lot paper and time. The later for me is always in short supply.

Technical data:

Zero pinhole multi format 120, tripod used, Film Fomapan 100, ISO 100, Developed in Studional, Printed on printed on Ilford multigrade gloss RC 8 x 10, Developed in Tetenal Eukobrom 

Unintended double exposure.