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GhoSStrider
28-Mar-2011, 06:45
Hello all,

I recently purchased a Green Monster that will be arriving this week. The goal is to make as beautiful contact prints as possible. I'm just wondering where to start. Is it worth it to jump straight into Lodima/Amidol? Is Fomalux 111 a better start point? Should I start with traditional enlarging paper?

I've had a little darkroom experience with 4x5, but not a lot. I'm quite eager to get going on the contact prints and see what I can do, though!

Thanks in advance for any advice!

Chris

Richard K.
28-Mar-2011, 07:09
No harm in practising with (or even settling on) the Fomalux; it is a fine paper. As far as Amidol/Azo etc. goes, sure practise that too; it may be a look you like. A lot of folk like the look of Ansco 130 with the Azo/Lodima too. YOU have to decide what you like. I even like the look iof Ilford WT paper! I guess other than experimenting and deciding on a silver paper, you should decide if you would be interested in an alternate process, but I warn you, a well-made Platinum print will smite you and you will be hooked. :) What format Green Monster, BTW?

Thanks for that bit of Ed Abbey quote, one of my favourites (but it should be amazing not spectacular :) ), and it may apply to your upcoming journey! Just in case there are people that haven't read the entire benediction before, please allow me to quote it in full:

"Benedicto: May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you -- beyond that next turning of the canyon walls."

Jay DeFehr
28-Mar-2011, 07:50
Chris,

One of my dearest friends shares your name; he's Christopher Daniel, known to many simply as CD May. If your green monster is the one that recently sold on ebay, congratulations! What a beauty! I hope it turns out to be the magnesium model. I nearly bid, but in the end decided to keep my Deardorff. It was far from an easy decision, and I still suffer tinges of regret.

Contact printing begins with the choice of paper, as you know, or process, as Richard added. All of the papers mentioned are good choices, in general, but it's impossible to guess which one, or which process will suit you best, and I think Abbey's quote is serendipitous here. None can say where you'll arrive by your journey of discovery, and where you begin matters less than beginning. Good light and good luck!

Michael Kadillak
28-Mar-2011, 08:05
Congrats on the first step. You are likely going to need to print with all of the papers you listed to get a feel for what works for you so start with the least expensive and work your way up. Do you have a place to process your films and print?

I am in Aurora and would be more than happy to share my experiences making 8x10 and larger Azo/Lodima contact prints.

John Kasaian
28-Mar-2011, 08:08
You may prefer the materials that you've got on hand. Experiment with other materials later on and compare.

GhoSStrider
28-Mar-2011, 08:17
Richard - Thank you for the information and the correction on the quote. I added that as my sig line from memory and am actually pretty pleased that that was my only error! Platinum is one of the alternative processes I want to explore someday, but for now I just want to get my feet wet with traditional prints.

Jay - That Green Monster must have been watched by a lot of folks! (I've been asked a couple other places if that was the one I got). No, mine is coming from the Nevada desert. ;-)

Michael - I was doing my 4x5 stuff at the Denver Darkroom, but that wasn't working too well for me. I'm working on establishing a very, very small dark room in my house. That was actually the impetus for going to 8x10. I couldn't fit my 4x5 enlarger into my tiny space, so going to 8x10 where I could do contact prints seemed to make sense. I still get the LF experience and can do so in my home when the mood strikes.

At a very minimum, I would love to see some of your Azo/Lodima contact prints and see what they look like in person. I'd be happy to buy you a coffee/beer/other beverage of your choice some evening if you'd like. :-)

John - I don't have too much left from my 4x5 stuff, and what I have is getting a bit dated. I was going to be placing an order for film/paper/developer/etc. soon, hence my curiosity on whether I should just jump in, or do it in steps.

Jay DeFehr
28-Mar-2011, 09:47
Chris,

I have Azo, Foma 111, and a wide variety of enlarging papers in my darkroom, meaning I haven't standardized on a single paper, not even a single contact speed paper, and I don't expect to. For me, having a variety of printing options is important. There is something to be said for concentrating one's attention on a single paper or process, too, and your space constraints seem to favor that approach. I'm moving into an apartment soon, and will be challenged (again) by all the commensurate spacial constraints. Where there's a will, there's a way!

Ralph Miyashiro
30-Mar-2011, 08:33
Hi Chris,
I'm speaking from very little experience, but it might be useful. I also have no room for an enlarger, so it's contacts in my "darkened room" with the light bulb (15 watt) method. I'm using the Foma RC stuff(fiber wasn't available when I started) and it's working for me, being new to LF it's a cheap way to get a feel for printing, easy to use and washes in a flash. I got some inexpensive enlarging paper to do medium format contact sheets and that stuff is super fast in comparison (3 sec. as opposed to a minute) to the Foma. So the enlarging paper might be pretty tough to control.

Ralph

Scott Walker
30-Mar-2011, 09:37
I am not a fan of contact printing and I was hoping that some of the issues I have had would come up here and maybe even be resolved but they didn't. So I will put them out and hopefully some can be resolved.
The first is that the negative takes a whole lot of abuse in the contact printing process compared to enlarging.
Second is dust, I live in a rather dry climate and dust and static kind of go hand in hand here and no matter how carefull you are you will have to spot prints. the problem with contact printing is that the process of adding and removing paper from the contact print setup creates static and attracts dust. On an enlargement I normally have to spot 2 or 3 places per print and they are all in the same place so you just print 3 or 4 extras and perfect your spotting before working on the good prints. With contact printing I seem to get 6 to 10 per print and they are random, virtually never in the same place on two prints so spotting takes a huge amount of time because you have to scan every print for dust spots and then repair them at a much slower pace in order to not over correct. I do have a good air filtration system in my darkroom.
Third is them pesky newton rings, although not visible without magnification I have never been able to make a contact print without a few showing up when I go to spot the print, and yes I use the expensive glass that supposedly cures this problem.

John Bowen
31-Mar-2011, 02:29
Scott,
Get yourself a vacuum easel. It eliminates the glass and two surfaces to attract dust. I've found using a vacuum easel to be a real time saver in the darkroom. I have a 16x20 easel and use the cardboard that kodak puts in with film to mask off the print. I can't remember the last time I had to spot a contact print.

Good luck

Scott Walker
31-Mar-2011, 05:44
Thanks John, I didn't know that a vacuum easel was even an option for contact printing. Can you recomend a good brand to purchase.

Michael Kadillak
31-Mar-2011, 06:43
Scott,
Get yourself a vacuum easel. It eliminates the glass and two surfaces to attract dust. I've found using a vacuum easel to be a real time saver in the darkroom. I have a 16x20 easel and use the cardboard that kodak puts in with film to mask off the print. I can't remember the last time I had to spot a contact print.

Good luck

Completely agree with John. A vacuum easel is the way to go.

I live in a dry climate as well here in Denver and hang my LF and ULF negatives in a metal drying cabinet and have absolutely no problems with any dust. I have done enough tray processing such that I no longer have any scratching problems with even the soft Efke emulsions as far as processing them. As a direct result spotting prints is such an innocuous event that I could likely avoid the process altogether. I find myself being picky so I take a minute or two for a quick spotting and I feel better afterwards.

Pawlowski6132
31-Mar-2011, 12:26
Excuse my ignorance but, what is a Green Monster?

Oren Grad
31-Mar-2011, 12:55
Third is them pesky newton rings, although not visible without magnification I have never been able to make a contact print without a few showing up when I go to spot the print, and yes I use the expensive glass that supposedly cures this problem.

Try using a glass sandwich - that is, don't use a contact printing frame, just lay a piece of glass on your work surface, put down the paper and the negative, then lay a slab of 3/16" glass on top and make the exposure through that. In my darkroom, that's the only approach among the many I've tried that gives a good yield of prints without Newton's rings. And it's cheap, too.

John Bowen
31-Mar-2011, 13:48
Thanks John, I didn't know that a vacuum easel was even an option for contact printing. Can you recomend a good brand to purchase.

Scott,

I'm not aware of any manufacturers that currently produce vacuum easels. I got mine off Ebay. If I could pick a brand, it would be Kostinger (I know I misspelled the name). I wouldn't worry too much about the vacuum, I thnk you could probably use a shopvac for the vacuum.

Michael A. Smith and a lot of others use vacuum FRAMES. Those are different animals and have glass, but will give a much better vacuum than a vacuum Easel. I find the vacuum easel works fine for my prints on single weight Azo (with some curl) or Lodima.

Best,

ElRooster
31-Mar-2011, 13:52
Excuse my ignorance but, what is a Green Monster?

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/calumet/calumetc8x10.html

Calumet C1 8x10

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/calumet/Image4.jpg

Ron McElroy
31-Mar-2011, 16:34
I'm curious as to how one can use a vacuum easel to contact print. Does the negative need to be larger than the paper? Do you tape a mask with a window opening the size of the print to the negative?

Pawlowski6132
31-Mar-2011, 17:18
Aha! I saw that one too.

My opinion is to use the Fomalux 111 and Amidol. I think it's an awesome paper. Lots of contrast and takes to selenium toning VERY well. Plus, the DW is great for handling and fiber base is nice. Plus it's cheap and still being made. Really, give it a shot.

Rayt
31-Mar-2011, 18:25
Excuse my ignorance but, what is a Green Monster?

I thought it had something to do with baseball!

John Bowen
1-Apr-2011, 06:56
I'm curious as to how one can use a vacuum easel to contact print. Does the negative need to be larger than the paper? Do you tape a mask with a window opening the size of the print to the negative?

Ron,

I contact 8x10 negatives on 8x10 paper on a 16x20 vacuum easel. I use the cardboard Kodak ships with ULF film (8x20 & 7x17 in my case) to lay on top of the film rebate to create a window. I have read of others using thin mountboard pieces to accomplish the same thing.

toolbox
1-Apr-2011, 07:29
I thought it had something to do with baseball!

You know it's funny...I'd never heard that term before I saw it here, but I own a C1...and the first time I saw that mentioned I knew that's what they had to be talking about :D .

John Kasaian
1-Apr-2011, 07:49
FWIW, I'm limited on counter space so I've been contact printing 8x10 negs using an old Moepta 127 format enlarger for my light source and a gizmo (I think it is a Printfile)contact printer--- basically a hinged piece of glass which I can Open to insert thepaper & negative. I've found that I have less issues with getting figerprints on the glass then using a plain ol' chunk of thick glass.