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How do I tell if my negatives are exposed and developed correctly? I am using a JOBO drum turning it by hand. I follow the developing process recomended in th e Kodak darkroom book. My negatives have a lot of detail, but look dark. How d ose a good negative look?
What do your negatives print like?
I have not printed any of them yet. I don't have an enlarger. I do have 5X7 pa per. I have been reading (The Print). I'm goint to try some contact printing. Any help will be appreciated.
Evaluating a negative without a print, is like listening to a CD by reading the jacket cover. If the negative is so dark that you cant see any light thru it, it is probably over exposed and over developed. If there is virtually no image at all, then it is probably under exposed and under developed. Beyond that, only a print, contact or otherwise, will give you any useful information at all.
As a VERY GENERAL answer to what a properly exposed and developed negative shoul d look like, the old axiom that you should be able to read a newspaper through t he densest part of a negative is still a reasonable guide.
If the neg shows good detail and texture in the thinnest areas and is thin enoug h to read a paper thru the densest parts, it should print well.
If it shows good detail in the thin areas, but is very dense in the highlight ar eas, it is exposed properly but over developed.
If the neg is quite dense overall,but shows detail and texture differences, it w as probably overexposed, but developed about right. Should print fairly well wit h increased printing esposure time.
If it is dense over all and very dense with no detail in the highlight areas it is overexposed and overdeveloped.
These are ball park visual estimates. You need to do some refining to be able to be more precise.
As others have pointed out, this is a difficult question to answer. We don't even know how you are viewing your negatives. On a light table? Held up to a light?........ The best that I can recommend is that you get a copy of Kodak's Black & White Darkroom Dataguide. In it, they show examples of good and bad negatives and describe how to judge them for proper exposure and development.
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