First ever darkroom print

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Adrian Bacon

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This is for reference in case anybody else wants to do this.

I wasn’t sure where to post this because it pretty much encompasses most everything.

For quite a while now, I’ve been working on getting a dedicated darkroom and just did my first ever darkroom print.

Being a a totally hybrid guy, my first ever silver gelatin print was produced the following way:

I shot a studio portrait of one of my kids on a 24MP DSLR

In Lightroom I post processed the file to my taste, then in PS I converted it to black and white, inverted it, and adjusted from gamma 1.0 to gamma 0.615 so the it looks like a film negative.

Flip it horizontal and print it out in bw mode on canon pro-1000 and inkpress RC inkjet paper in 5x7 and 600dpi

Make a contact exposure of the inkjet print onto 5x7 Arista.EDU pearl paper. 3.9 seconds, no filters.

Develop the print in dektol, fix in Kodak fixer.

The image on the left is the inkjet “digital negative”, the image on the right is the silver print.

For a first effort, this was shockingly easy to make with totally usable results. Looking at the dried print, I’d probably dial some more contrast, but otherwise it’s really sharp and looks good.
 

calebarchie

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Made my first print in a similar way except created a linear QTR profile with Charthrobb first and played with the ink densities a little. If you do this in such a way you can print with adjusted yellow and magenta ink levels for even further contrast control. Overall, very easy and no test strips needed.
 
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Adrian Bacon

Adrian Bacon

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Made my first print in a similar way except created a linear QTR profile with Charthrobb first and played with the ink densities a little. If you do this in such a way you can print with adjusted yellow and magenta ink levels for even further contrast control. Overall, very easy and no test strips needed.

I may look into that, as it is now the inverted image ended up sitting between levels 48-206 in PS so I’ve got a fair amount of room to expand the inkjet contrast, though it didn’t occur to me that I could simulate gels in the inkjet print. I’m using a 4x5 enlarger that has the color wheels as a light source, so for me it might be moot as I can just adjust the color wheels on the light source.

I made several other prints where I dialed down the time by a tenth and ultimately ended up at 3.5 seconds exposure as the sweet spot.

The next steps will be to adjust the contrast of the original, make a new inkjet print, and make a new contact exposure.
 

Mr Bill

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For a first effort, this was shockingly easy to make with totally usable results.

I’m using a 4x5 enlarger that has the color wheels as a light source...

Adrian, I don't quite know how to say this, but since you already have a darkroom, an enlarger, and some processing chemicals, I think that once you put an actual film negative in the enlarger your idea of "shockingly easy" may get revised. Aside from the issue of having to deal with those infuriating tiny little dust particles. Best of luck.
 
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Adrian Bacon

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Adrian, I don't quite know how to say this, but since you already have a darkroom, an enlarger, and some processing chemicals, I think that once you put an actual film negative in the enlarger your idea of "shockingly easy" may get revised. Aside from the issue of having to deal with those infuriating tiny little dust particles. Best of luck.

Maybe, maybe not. I currently process all my film to either 0.56 or 0.62 contrast and scan it with a matching linearization curve. I purposely made the digital negative the same (close enough) contrast range as what the film would be had I shot it on film and developed it. I check my development contrast with test exposures pretty regularly to make sure I’m getting what I think I’m getting and bring a fair amount of precision to my film development regime. I also expose knowing what I’m going to be developing to and am really familiar with the stock I normally shoot with for the stuff that matters. It’s not rocket science once you know it.

Dust is as much of a problem with scanning bw film as it would be with putting it in an enlarger, and I’d say it’s an even bigger problem with scanning as my scans of 35mm film are at 4000 dpi, which shows pretty much *everything*. I’ve pretty dramatically cut down the dust issue to near non issue levels by installing a large HEPA filter in the dark room and locating all of my analog and hybrid equipment in there. I’ll get a fleck here and there, but the HEPA filter cuts out a lot of the junk once it’s been running for a day or so. After it’s been running, wipe down all your work surfaces with a damp rag before a session and let dry and it’s good to go.
 

Mr Bill

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It’s not rocket science once you know it.

I do have some sort of familiarity with this sort of thing; probably more than you might imagine.

I appreciate the complexity of what you've done, but with all due respect, I think you ought to give a try to just putting a negative in your enlarger and printing it. You won't have nearly as much "total control," but the things that you CAN do - tweaking contrast with the enlarger color settings (assumption VC paper), dodging and burning are so quick and easy to experiment...

BTW, I see dust spots on film as easy to deal with in digital scans since a bit of "cloning" makes them virtually imperceptible. But when you have them on optical prints, you either reprint or use a fine-tipped brush to "spot" them out with dyes.
 
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Adrian Bacon

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I do have some sort of familiarity with this sort of thing; probably more than you might imagine.

I appreciate the complexity of what you've done, but with all due respect, I think you ought to give a try to just putting a negative in your enlarger and printing it. You won't have nearly as much "total control," but the things that you CAN do - tweaking contrast with the enlarger color settings (assumption VC paper), dodging and burning are so quick and easy to experiment...

BTW, I see dust spots on film as easy to deal with in digital scans since a bit of "cloning" makes them virtually imperceptible. But when you have them on optical prints, you either reprint or use a fine-tipped brush to "spot" them out with dyes.

Don’t worry, I do intend to print some film, as that is the ultimate goal, however I don’t yet have all the bits and pieces together to do so just yet. The big thing I’m missing is a lens/board for the enlarger. It’s an omega I got off of eBay and has no lens or lens board. I found a lens, but it’s not on a board that fits, so I’ve got that to work out before I can do much anything else with actually printing film. In the meantime, I’m just happy that I’ve been able to produce a silver print that is pretty close to what I expected it to be without any real surprises. It pretty much worked the way I thought it did, the only unexpected thing was how little exposure it took, due to the fact that I don’t have a lens to stop things down. I have the head all the way up and the enlarger light on the low setting. I might set the color wheels at the midpoint just to cut more light, and that’ll also make doing a split grade pretty straightforward.

And yes, I’m fully aware that I don’t know as much as others when it comes to full analog, however I’m a quick study. I’ll figure it out soon enough. And if I can’t, I’m not afraid to ask here on photrio. Everybody here tends to be pretty helpful.
 

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Ahh, sorry to hear about the lens board situation. As a note, if you wanted to, you COULD make contact prints - just a sheet of glass pressing the negative against the photo paper. And a loupe (your enlarging lens would probably work fine) to inspect the contact print with. Best of luck on your lens board search.
 

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Don’t worry, I do intend to print some film, as that is the ultimate goal, however I don’t yet have all the bits and pieces together to do so just yet. The big thing I’m missing is a lens/board for the enlarger. It’s an omega I got off of eBay and has no lens or lens board. I found a lens, but it’s not on a board that fits, so I’ve got that to work out before I can do much anything else with actually printing film. In the meantime, I’m just happy that I’ve been able to produce a silver print that is pretty close to what I expected it to be without any real surprises. It pretty much worked the way I thought it did, the only unexpected thing was how little exposure it took, due to the fact that I don’t have a lens to stop things down. I have the head all the way up and the enlarger light on the low setting. I might set the color wheels at the midpoint just to cut more light, and that’ll also make doing a split grade pretty straightforward.

And yes, I’m fully aware that I don’t know as much as others when it comes to full analog, however I’m a quick study. I’ll figure it out soon enough. And if I can’t, I’m not afraid to ask here on photrio. Everybody here tends to be pretty helpful.
This is great! This is really old school, except for the inkjet for the negative. I have to learn how to make large negatives on clear film from digital files. Opens up all kinds of alternative processes . This is great seriously , learn how to do the hybrid thing. Salt prints, Platinum, the possibilities are endless.
 
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Adrian Bacon

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This is great! This is really old school, except for the inkjet for the negative. I have to learn how to make large negatives on clear film from digital files. Opens up all kinds of alternative processes . This is great seriously , learn how to do the hybrid thing. Salt prints, Platinum, the possibilities are endless.

It actually doesn’t matter if you use clear film or paper for the digital negative if making a silver gelatin print. The paper needs a longer exposure time, however, pretty much every modern professional inkjet can lay down enough resolution and print with enough density when printing in BW mode that you can totally use paper. Your source merely needs to have the same density range as what film would have. You could even simulate film characteristic curves if you wanted to, or if you wanted to, you could also just scan the negative film as a positive and print it to inkjet with no modifications then contact expose that. BW negative film is a source to print from onto silver gelatin paper, however it’s not the only source.

The only thing I’m a purist about is that I firmly believe that you should do what works for you. What works for me may not work for anybody else, and that’s totally fine. Just think of where we would be if everybody only ever did what everybody else thinks they should do.
 
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Ahh, sorry to hear about the lens board situation. As a note, if you wanted to, you COULD make contact prints - just a sheet of glass pressing the negative against the photo paper. And a loupe (your enlarging lens would probably work fine) to inspect the contact print with. Best of luck on your lens board search.

Thanks. There’s a dearth of stuff on eBay, however in my experience so far, almost nobody knows what works with what because most of it is bits and pieces from who knows where. Sure I could go buy a new enlarger and lens to go with it from BH, but that is serious money if you want to enlarge 4x5 negatives, so I’m using what is available to me right now.

As an interim, I found a smaller omega that will do up to 6x7 that I just finished assembling. It looks complete and came with film carriers. The only thing I need to make it work is a timer and a grain focuser, and I should be able to do up to 12x16 with it from 35mm or 120. All of my 120 shooting is 6x9, so I’ll probably use the smaller guy for 35mm only and pursue 120 and 4x5 on the big one.
 

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Thanks. There’s a dearth of stuff on eBay, however in my experience so far, almost nobody knows what works with what because most of it is bits and pieces from who knows where. Sure I could go buy a new enlarger and lens to go with it from BH, but that is serious money if you want to enlarge 4x5 negatives, so I’m using what is available to me right now.
What model enlarger is it?
 

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Thanks. There’s a dearth of stuff on eBay, however in my experience so far, almost nobody knows what works with what because most of it is bits and pieces from who knows where. Sure I could go buy a new enlarger and lens to go with it from BH, but that is serious money if you want to enlarge 4x5 negatives, so I’m using what is available to me right now.

As an interim, I found a smaller omega that will do up to 6x7 that I just finished assembling. It looks complete and came with film carriers. The only thing I need to make it work is a timer and a grain focuser, and I should be able to do up to 12x16 with it from 35mm or 120. All of my 120 shooting is 6x9, so I’ll probably use the smaller guy for 35mm only and pursue 120 and 4x5 on the big one.
Not long ago I bought a newer Beseler 45, with the famous Adjus-a-table 3 lenses (1 a 150 Schnieder) with the crazy Minolta color head (It works great, just I have heads) Enlarger had a couple of carriers, turret for the 3 lenses, a big borderless easel. 125 BUCKS I had to drive 10 hours round trip to get it. I had never seen that part of Arkansas :smile: . Perfect condition.

Remember there's about 75 people that want to get rid of an enlarger than want to buy one. Watch Craigslist and let people know. I think you have a Great plan, wait and you will get exactly what you need.
It's the best of times for darkroom guys, it's like when the railroads were scrapping steam locomotives. :smile:
Mike
 
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Adrian Bacon

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MattKing

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Those top pictures are pictures of the light source, not the enlarger per se.
The light source is removable, and sits on top of the enlarger itself. There are a few different types of light sources, and they are interchangeable, and some light sources can be used on more than one model.
The photos you posted are sort of like those wonderful eBay listings where all the photos are of the outside of the protective case!:D
If we could see the parts where the negative holders go in and the lens gets mounted, we might be able to tell what model the enlarger is. A shot of the upright columns might help as well.
Alternatively, there may be a plate on either the front or back of the upright column(s) that indicates the model number.
If it is an Omega D2, 5 or 6, (a guess) it looks to me like you already have a lens plate. The lens plate goes between the lens and a lens mount - either a single mount or a 3 lens turret.
Say it is an Omega D6. We could then go to KHB's site with respect to that enlarger, and it will tell us which lens mounts work. With that information, your search will be easier.
As an example, here is the link to KHB's page on the Omega D5/D6: http://www.khbphotografix.com/omega/Enlargers/D5.htm
 

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The smaller one looks a lot like my friend's B-66. He's only had it running for a couple weeks. He's been printing color, black and white. Very simple nice enlarger. Not sure what model D you have, pretty sure they all use the same carriers and lens board s.
 
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Adrian Bacon

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Those top pictures are pictures of the light source, not the enlarger per se.
The light source is removable, and sits on top of the enlarger itself. There are a few different types of light sources, and they are interchangeable, and some light sources can be used on more than one model.
The photos you posted are sort of like those wonderful eBay listings where all the photos are of the outside of the protective case!:D
If we could see the parts where the negative holders go in and the lens gets mounted, we might be able to tell what model the enlarger is. A shot of the upright columns might help as well.
Alternatively, there may be a plate on either the front or back of the upright column(s) that indicates the model number.
If it is an Omega D2, 5 or 6, (a guess) it looks to me like you already have a lens plate. The lens plate goes between the lens and a lens mount - either a single mount or a 3 lens turret.
Say it is an Omega D6. We could then go to KHB's site with respect to that enlarger, and it will tell us which lens mounts work. With that information, your search will be easier.
As an example, here is the link to KHB's page on the Omega D5/D6: http://www.khbphotografix.com/omega/Enlargers/D5.htm

Alright then, I'll be back in the darkroom tomorrow PM, so I'll get more detail on the big one then. The small one I'm not so concerned about as the guy I bought it from had it in his darkroom and used it almost every day for quite some time and he was moving and just needed to unload it. He was an older fellow and I guess just got tired of doing the film/print thing. He had two that where exactly alike, I snagged one. I've got a used Grablab 450 (I think) timer on it's way, so once that shows up, I'll put some 135 through it and make some prints.

The bigger one is kind of a frankenstein. When I bought it, it was supposed to be complete, but the guy who sold it sent just the baseboard, power supply, the head, and the part that slides up and down the column that the head mounts on. There was no column, no film carriers, no lens. He went silent and I never got the rest of the stuff, so I searched around and found a column and got the head and stuff mounted on the column and smoothly working with the tensioners so it doesn't come crashing down as soon as you unlock the column lock. I also found and got some film carriers for the sized negatives I usually shoot that fits. At this point it seems to have pretty much everything except a lens mounted on it. The power supply has the timer built in so I don't need a timer for it.

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.
 
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Adrian Bacon

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So, I messed around with doing a contact print of a 4x5 negative I recently shot. Figured I'd try out split grade printing. The results of the experiment

2018-07-08 23.35.53.jpg


The bottom one is 6 seconds 170Y, 12 seconds 170M. I think I'd rather have the white of the egg a little whiter, so I'll try 5s 170Y and 10s 170M tomorrow.

Taking what I learned I re-did my first effort and just used the same inkjet print as before, but re-printed it with split grade:

2018-07-08 23.37.07.jpg


The one on the left is the first effort, the one on the right is the re-worked one. This picture doesn't do it justice, but looking at the two side by side with my eyeballs, the revised one simply looks better in pretty much every way. The whites are whiter, the darks are sufficiently dark but don't lose details. Any more changes will be just that, just changes. Not really better or worse, just different. I supposed I could add some luminance noise to the original to make it look less clean, but that's totally aesthetic.
 
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