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Thread: Paper negatives Questions

  1. #1

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    Paper negatives Questions

    I have a few questions regarding paper negatives.

    What I shall use them for
    My intension was to expose onto the paper rather than use film on my 5x4 camera.
    I will then develop, scan them and post process in Photoshop

    Why not just use film?
    Paper seems cheaper
    Paper may give me a different look

    Why not contact print them
    No real room for a dark room at the moment

    Questions:

    Paper to buy ?: I am looking at Ilford Multigrade IV Deluxe Glossy although not keen on glossy. Is RC paper better than FB paper ?

    Developing: Can I develop the sheets in the SP-445 tank like I do my film ?

  2. #2

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    Re: Paper negatives Questions

    Are you going to put the multigrade filter in front of the lens? MG IV exposed without a filter has approximately normal contrast and twice the speed of the paper with a #2 filter.

    Enlarging paper will certainly give a different look, though whether it is appropriate depends on the subject. Enlarging paper has the opposite characteristic to film. Whereas film compresses the tonal range enlarging paper expands it. In normal use, with a normal contrast subject negative and paper, the two cancel each other out and the final print has the same tonal range as the subject. When enlarging paper is exposed directly in a camera the tonal range of the paper negative has greater contrast than the scene. This means that scenes with high contrast will of necessity have either blown highlights, or, empty shadows.

    I have once used a paper negative, in the darkroom, to deliberately achieve a very high contrast print from a soft negative. The paper negative was made by contact printing from a paper positive. The paper negative was then sandwiched against a fresh sheet of paper in the same way that a contact print is made from a film negative. Enough light passes through MGIV paper to expose the paper underneath, some experimenting was required to get the exposure I wanted.

  3. #3

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    Re: Paper negatives Questions

    Thanks for the reply Ted

    I was going to use a yellow filter in front of the lens to try and cut down some of the blue sky. As for the contrast, I have since read that exposing enlarging paper may yield high contrast images. I really wanted to go the other way and produce images which are softer

  4. #4

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    Re: Paper negatives Questions

    You can produce soft images alright. Just expose liberally and develop sparingly. However, I think you're making it unnecessarily difficult by limiting yourself to paper. Plus, the spectral response may not be suitable for all subjects (good luck trying to photograph a red rose or make the skin of that fair woman in her 40s glow radiantly).

    But if you insist on going the paper negative route: I'd go with any rc glossy paper. Fb doesn't always like to lie very flat (ymmv) and anything except a glossy surface brings the risk of going very soft/lack detail.

  5. #5

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    Re: Paper negatives Questions

    PS I agree with korak, enlarging paper is only sensitive to blue-green light, all the yellows oranges and reds in the scene will not be recorded.

  6. #6
    John Olsen
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    Re: Paper negatives Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by IanBarber View Post
    Thanks for the reply Ted

    I was going to use a yellow filter in front of the lens to try and cut down some of the blue sky. As for the contrast, I have since read that exposing enlarging paper may yield high contrast images. I really wanted to go the other way and produce images which are softer
    If you want to shoot in normal outdoors light, try a #58 green filter with Ilford MG RC. It will knock the blue sky down from a pure white and brighten up foliage. If shooting at 0.6 ISO seems a little slow, painful in fact, then seek scenes with no sky in view. Also, go back thru various threads to find recipes for preflashing the paper. Joe V has posted some helpful advice. Otherwise, stick with film - considering the cost of your time and effort it's still cheaper than paper negatives.
    John O

  7. #7

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    Re: Paper negatives Questions

    If you find a really old box of MGRC, the blue layer generally goes away, so the flatter green layer does all the work without a filter...

    You will loose some brillance over a film neg, and the paper neg can be much flatter or more contrasty than you expect/like...

    If you eventually go back to enlarging or contact printing, it can be difficult to match the look you like with film...

    It's harder to capture a full scale range on paper...

    Try using diluted film developer for the minimum time just before you hit the Dmax of the paper, or you start loosing the edge effects fast (gets mushy looking esp if you blow it up)...

    Many RC papers have a watermark on the back that screws up projecting light through them (but not all)...

    Expect EI 1-8 for exposure...

    Worth trying, but good luck all the same!!!

    Steve K

  8. #8

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    Re: Paper negatives Questions

    Many thanks for all the comments.

    I am beginning to think if the extra time and cost in paper and paper developer is going to be worth the time and effort. Might put this on the back burner for a while

  9. #9

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    Re: Paper negatives Questions

    I wouldn't give up on paper so soon, especially if you must scan because of lack of space for a darkroom.

    I've had good results scanning paper negatives with an ordinary flatbed scanner and inverting the images in GIMP, and laterally flipping them.

    Processing the negatives is easy and quick. Cheap variable contrast RC paper exposed through a yellow filter gives a tonality similar to film, except it's red blind or course.

    I have posted some images in the paper negative thread.

  10. #10

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    Re: Paper negatives Questions

    G'day Ian, I'm with desertrat, don't give up on paper negs. I've shot thousands in the last 10 years and love it. Yes it can be difficult, yes the results are unpredictable, often a shoot will produce no usable negs, shooting in bright sun is problematic and skies often come out featureless. But once you work out what techniques work for you it is great fun and very much easier and cheaper than shooting film. I'd also caution that some of the above advice reads like the postings of people who've not really put in the time and effort. And some is just wrong. Here in Australia the light is very harsh so I most often pre-flash and use a Y2 filter for MG paper. Old graded paper is best but great results can be obtained with MG RC and FB. My preference is to shoot FB and then contact print oiled negs, because I like the grain to show.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Click image for larger version. 

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    Oh, and I shoot handmade sliding box simple lens cameras.

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