View Full Version : Contact printing - materials?

Scott --
12-Jul-2007, 09:33
Ok, I have an order 'bout ready to go to Freestyle: Arista.EDU Ultra RC paper, Kentmere liquid paper developer (1:9 stuff, I'm guessing similar to Dektol). Anything I'm missing? Good starter stuff? Going for relatively cheap and dependable 'til I get further up the learning curve.


Donald Qualls
12-Jul-2007, 10:13
If the developer is 1:9, it's the common PQ type instead of the older MQ type like Dektol. End result is effectively the same, except that phenidone typically produces a slightly colder tone than metol when controlled (via concentration) for the same development time.

Liquid developers are nice, though, because you can draw off just as much concentrate as you need -- making just a few small prints in 5x7 trays? Mix up 250 ml. of chemistry instead of a whole liter in an 8x10 tray, and reduce waste (which reduces your ongoing costs). Even better, the concentrates typically keep well (even Dektol keeps better when concentrated -- when I made mine up, I mixed the stock solution with half the water; it's been almost two years and it's still going strong). Kentmere has a good reputation, too.

You'll want fixer, of course -- rapid fixer is strongly recommended for fiber prints; used at film strength, you can fix quickly enough to avoid much fixer bonding with the paper fibers and thus greatly reduce washing requirements. With RC, it doesn't much matter; rapid or standard, film or paper strength, as long as you fix adequately and then wash adequately (for RC, which washes more like film than traditional prints) you'll get all the print life the paper is good for (which isn't as much as fiber base, but it's still great stuff for learning on).

You'll probably find the .EDU Ultra paper is faster by a stop or two than the Varigram you've been fooling with, so you'll *need* to come up with some means of reducing your light source, and in so doing, it's worth remembering that the more your light approaches a point source, the less softening of sharp boundaries will occur (softening caused by projection of a diffuse light source, even in the miniscule space between emulsions of negative and print).

Scott --
12-Jul-2007, 11:28
Thanks, Donald. I have a new bottle of Kodak rapid fix concentrate ready to go. Also hooked up a night light bulb yesterday, so I can at least start with that.

Order's placed!

Brian Ellis
13-Jul-2007, 11:21
You'll need a light to illuminate the negative and paper, a contact printing frame or a couple pieces of clear glass in which to sandwich the negative and paper, a timer of some sort, developer, stop, fix, trays, tongs and/or gloves, and some way to wash the prints.

Any light will do, just make sure it evenly illuminates the negative and paper. If you have a spot meter you can use it to check the illumination on the corners, edges, and center of the paper to make sure it's even all the way around. I put the light bulb in a flood lamp holder (about $5 from Home Depot) to help spread the light. I liked a time of about 30-45 seconds for an "average" negative, this is long enough to do whatever dodging and burning you can do (more limited than with an enlarger because it's harder to see the area you're working on when the negative and paper are sandwiched and when the light is reflected off the glass) but not longer than necessary. It helps to have the light in a position where its height can be easily adjusted so that you can raise and lower the light to adjust the time for particular negatives.

Good luck, I found contact printing very enjoyable because of its simplicty. I used Amidol and Azo and always imagined that Edward Weston was looking over my shoulder (probably appalled at the prints he was seeing : - )).