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Thread: Contact Printing Question

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
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    San Joaquin Valley, California
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    Contact Printing Question

    Since remodeling my dark(er) room I'm finding that I need to change how I do some things, especially contact printing. I've always used a painter's light and in the room's former configuration I'd clamp the the light onto a towel rack. Since removation though, the towel rack has migrated to another, less convenient wall. I thought of clamping the light to a chair back, but the folding chairs we have are too low-backed to work comfortably with, so I was wondering, does anyone here use an enlarger for a light source for contact printing? Would it work (I can't see why it wouldn't unless I were to use a super slow paper like AZO) and are there any tricks or issues I need to be aware of when using an enlarger for contact printing?
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  2. #2
    Moderator
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    6,302

    Re: Contact Printing Question

    Yes, I use my 4x5 LPL with dichroic head as a light source for contact printing. It's great - the dial-in filtration is convenient for printing on variable contrast paper, it's easy to adjust the head for optimal coverage of different negative and paper sizes from very small to very large, and the aperture control on the enlarging lens and neutral density filter switch in the head, together with the enlarging timer, allow for very flexible exposure control.

  3. #3

    Join Date
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    Re: Contact Printing Question

    Thanks, Oren!
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  4. #4
    Moderator
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    6,302

    Re: Contact Printing Question

    The nice thing is that you don't need a big 4x5 enlarger to get these conveniences, since you're not trying to fit the negative in the head anyway. If you don't already have an enlarger, a smaller format dichroic enlarger should be just fine too, and at today's prices for used 35mm or medium format enlargers, it'll be great value for money.

  5. #5
    Dave Karp
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
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    Re: Contact Printing Question

    And no need to worry about alignment!

  6. #6
    Big Negs Rock!
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Location
    Pasadena
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    1,120

    Re: Contact Printing Question

    I use my enlarger and have the metrics for different paper posted near it along with the height of the enlarger.
    Mark Woods

    Large Format B&W
    Cinematography Mentor at the American Film Institute
    Past President of the Pasadena Society of Artists
    Director of Photography
    Pasadena, CA
    www.markwoods.com

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Dec 1997
    Location
    Baraboo, Wisconsin
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    7,695

    Re: Contact Printing Question

    I think an enlarger is an excellent source for contact printing. Among other reasons, using VC paper becomes feasible (assuming, of course, that you don't use Azo or another graded paper). It's also easier to adjust the position of the light source than it is when you clamp a bulb to a chair or shelf or whatever.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Westport Island, Maine
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    1,165

    Re: Contact Printing Question

    I use my old Beseler 45mx for Azo contact printing. Took out the lensboard, cranked it down most of the way. It works fine with a Zone VI Cold Light and stabilizer. Too powerful for other papers, so I use my LPL for those, with a lens in it.
    Bruce Barlow
    author of "Finely Focused" and "Exercises in Photographic Composition"
    www.brucewbarlow.com

  9. #9
    Darkcloth Fumbler
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    ventura, ca
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    Re: Contact Printing Question

    i've done contact printing using a 6x7 color enlarger, for 8x10 negs (mostly 'digital' inkjet negs). i've also done some 11x14 paper interneg/positives. works well, and it's nice to have it all properly timed. pick up a color or dichro 6x7 enlarger on the cheap.
    - matt haines


    Business.
    Pleasure.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    Richmond, VA
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    Re: Contact Printing Question

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kasaian View Post
    and are there any tricks or issues I need to be aware of when using an enlarger for contact printing?
    John,

    Nobody has mentioned this yet but, assuming you will be using a lens on your enlarger, be sure to put a negative in a carrier and focus the enlarger prior to exposing paper.

    I use an enlarger to contact print all the time.

    John

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