Can you "safelight" an enlarger?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by BetterSense, Feb 22, 2009.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Is it possible to get a red-enough under-lens filter so that you can turn the enlarger on with the red filter in place, position the paper properly, then remove the filter for the exposure, without fogging the paper? Is this commonly done? I have been using a scrap piece of paper but it's quite a pain.
     
  2. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    A number 25 red might work ok, but it is a little lighter than the ruby red glass than came with the enlargers I have. You would have to test it, or maybe stack two of them. Also watch for light leaks from the head bouncing around the room and fogging the paper.
     
  3. nuckabean

    nuckabean Member

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    Yes, it is commonly done, and may enlargers are supplied with an attached red filter that swings in and out from under the lens. I've never tried it though as the enlargers I have in the school darkroom have had theirs removed.
     
  4. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    Quite usual. On my Omega B8 the provision for
    the filter is on the lens board. Dan
     
  5. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    Not sure of your exact situation, but I would suggest getting an easel to position (and hold) the paper.

    Jon
     
  6. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    As stated, a red under-lens filter holders and filters are common enlarger accessories, and most enlargers I've dealt with have a provision built in for the filter. I believe Ilford's under-lens set VC filter includes a red filter as well. Depending on your enlarger, the filter may be available as a replacement part, and they show up on ebay for various enlargers. Most are quite similar, and you can likely find one that works that was actually made for a different unit.

    As for fogging, certainly you'll want to test whatever filter you obtain, but if stray enlarger light doesn't fog your exposures, it likely won't fog the paper under the filter unless you have the enlarger on for a very long time, which you'd want to avoid anyway.
    It's worth another test, but if you're getting fogging from stray light, you have a different problem to solve.
     
  7. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Yes.
     
  8. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    I'd certainly test, as suggested above. Enlarger paper can and does fog from inappropriate safelighting. I expect that the risk of fogging from bouncing white light is quite elevated; the only way to be sure that the light escaping your enlarger is safe is to use a safelight bulb inside the enlarger. That would make for very long exposure times. :wink:

    Also, one other thing to bear in mind is that enlarger bulbs have quite finite lives, particularly the more modern halogen-like bulbs (they might actually be halogen; I'm not sure) that newer enlargers tend to take. By "quite finite" I mean that the powered-up life of the bulbs is quite short compared to a normal household light bulb. The bulbs are designed for frequent on/off cycles (if you did that to a normal household bulb you'd significantly shorten its lifetime) and very bright light for their size, and those two things conspire to shorten the total powered-up lifetime. In other words, while you might get thousands of hours of life from a household bulb, you might be lucky to get a few hundred out of an enlarger bulb.
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    A red swing-away filter is pretty common, though they often disappear as most people don't use them too often, as long as they have an easel to position the paper. I'd try a 25A filter.
     
  10. Larry.Manuel

    Larry.Manuel Member

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    I leave my enlarger light on, with red filter, for the whole session, using a metronome and card for timing.
     
  11. phaedrus

    phaedrus Member

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    Only problem I see with this method is jiggling the enlarger as you remove the red filter for exposure. Could make a difference in sharpness if the exposure time were a few seconds.
     
  12. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    You can also use a cheap Rosco lighting gel. You don't need glass or expensive Wratten filters for this purpose. I have used Rosco #26 or #27 and found it to be relatively 'safe.'
     
  13. John W

    John W Member

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    This is easily resolved by using a dodging card to start and stop the actual exposure timing:
    1. Compose with the filter
    2. Put the card in the light path
    3. Move the filter out of the way
    4. Allow a settling time for the enlarger
    5. Start the exposure by removing the card
     
  14. tim_walls

    tim_walls Subscriber

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    My Meopta enlarger has the swing-away red filter for just this purpose, although I've never used it out of nothing more than suspicion. I normally just compose and focus using unfiltered enlarger with a piece of scrap paper (of the type I'm printing on, to ensure the width is the same) in the easel and the real paper still in the box.
     
  15. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    If you focus on the actual paper at say two stops down and don't take too long to do it then the swing filter will be fine. I'd counsel against focusing at full aperture if this is f2.8 as the light intensity may then be enough to penetrate the filter unless it was literally for a few seconds only and personally I cannot focus properly or worse than that crop the neg in such a short time but you may be able to.

    Only you can actually know what happens in your darkroom in terms of time, light spill/bounce etc. I'd try your idea and see what happens. It'll cost you one peice of paper to know whether it works or not.

    pentaxuser
     
  16. Martin Aislabie

    Martin Aislabie Subscriber

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    I do as Tim Walls

    But if you don't have an easel to help align and hold your paper, a few pen lines on some Drafting Tape stuck to your base board will suffice.

    Also I have used loops of Drafting Tape rolled into a large O's and then flattened to hold paper in place which was too large for my Easel

    Not great but hey it works

    Drafting Tape is a less sticky version of Masking Tape

    Good luck

    Martin
     
  17. randerson07

    randerson07 Member

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    While I wait for my easel to arrive Ive been setting up using a scrap paper and adding "L" shapped scraps of tape on the baseboard where the corners of the paper should sit. I then turn off the light, and gently slide the paper around till its seated in my slots. Its been working ok I suppose, but Im new to this so we shall see over time.
     
  18. OP
    OP
    BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    That's what I do too, but the problem I've had is the paper 'bubbling up' in the center slightly, and not sitting flat.