View Full Version : More contact printing experiments - what happened THIS time?

Scott --
21-Jul-2007, 17:43
Ok, so I got some Arista paper, and some decent Kentmere paper developer. Used a night light bulb at about 18" from the glass. Exposure time ended up at 5 seconds or so. Got me a print, but it's gray, and low contrast:
http://i80.photobucket.com/albums/j185/bliorg/th_contact.jpg (http://i80.photobucket.com/albums/j185/bliorg/contact.jpg)

What happened here? I developed in my Uniroller setup for about 3 minutes, per the label if for no other decent reason. Fixed with newly-mixed 1:7 Kodak Rapid fix.

Ideas? Going out to dePot tomorrow to get some supplies to make a more regulatable light setup, but I'm not sure I understand why even the masked parts of the paper went gray...

domenico Foschi
21-Jul-2007, 17:53
It seems fogged from here.
I think you'd better check your safelight.
That's a nice picture, by the way.

Scott --
21-Jul-2007, 19:10
Thanks, Domenico, but here's what confuses me - I'm developing in a Uniroller tank. No safelight - everything done in darkness, then expose, then pull the print in darkness and load into a tank. Where'd it get fogged? :confused:

Randy H
21-Jul-2007, 19:33
Try developing a blank sheet of your paper. Straight from the box into the developer. It indeed looks as though your paper is fogged. Especially if it is even grey under the mask. If the paper comes out gray, you may have a bad box of paper. Has it gotten hot, or inadvertantly opened where light could have gotten it? Or just plain "old"?

Or perhaps your uni is leaking light?

Christopher Breitenstein
21-Jul-2007, 22:23
You must be masking this otherwise all the paper around the image would be jet black. other then fogged paper I cant think of many other solutions. Perhaps the color spectrum of the night light doesn't match the sensitivity of the paper. If your negative has good density then use a regular household light bulb placed 3-4 from the paper & negative sandwich should produce beautiful prints.

Best of luck, don't give up!!!


Christopher Breitenstein
21-Jul-2007, 22:27
If that is Multi grade paper you will need filters otherwise its as though you are always printing with about a number two filter, which requires quite a bit of contrast in the neg. If you are not using filters that would partially explain the flat prints.


David A. Goldfarb
22-Jul-2007, 03:34
It's fog of some sort, but there could be a few possible causes. One is that the paper has been exposed to light.

Another could be that the developer and paper don't work together well and produce a high level of base fog. There are some papers, for instance, that will do this in a soft or warmtone developer. To test this, try another developer like Dektol.

Another possibility is aerial fog. It might be that this paper isn't suited to roller processing. To test this, try developing part of an unexposed sheet in the roller, and part in a tray, and see if there is a difference in the base fog level.

Scott --
22-Jul-2007, 04:46
Thanks for the help, everyone.

Ok, ran an unexposed sheet through the drum. Came out completely gray. I mixed new developer first, so I don't suspect that. Would concentration matter? Maybe I need to mix stronger than the 1:9?

The paper's brand new - just broke the seal last night. I wouldn't think sending through the mail would ruin it, would it?

I don't suspect my roller drum, 'cause I've never had a problem developing film in it. Unless the paper's just way more sensitive. On that note, I kind of wonder if my dark room isn't appropriately dark - the water heater's in there, maybe the pilot's fogging the film?

I have no feel for this. How sensitive is the paper?

This is frustrating. :mad:

22-Jul-2007, 04:49
Paper is fairly slow. Plus light travels in a straight line. You can have light leaks in a room and not have any problems. I print colour in a room with light leaks. The leak is at one end I'm at the other.

David A. Goldfarb
22-Jul-2007, 05:15
Not all fog comes from light.

It might be that the developer is good, but just not good for this particular paper.

The drum may have no light leaks, but this particular paper may be more sensitive to aerial fog, which comes from excessive exposure to air during the development time. Try developing a sheet in a tray and see if it makes a difference.

A stronger dilution of developer will allow you to reduce the development time, and that may reduce aerial fog, if that is the problem.

Another solution might just be reducing development time in general. Try a longer exposure and 2 minutes development time, and see if that improves things.

Randy H
22-Jul-2007, 05:27
It might be that the developer is good, but just not good for this particular paper.

On this note, I have quite a bit of Agfa Multicontrast 5X7 and used some succesfully less than a month ago. I will send you a few sheets of that with the other item, and you can see if it may be your paper or a dislike of the Kentmere on the Arista. I am not real awake yet, but I will also see what other papers I may have and send you a sampling of each.

Scott --
22-Jul-2007, 05:46
Ok, to try and remove aerial/over agitation fogging from the equation, I'm going to load another unexposed sheet (in a darkened closet this time), put the sheet in the drum with enough developer to submerge it, and tray-type develop it (I have no trays, so this'll have to do). We'll see if that helps.

What I need to do is convert a basement room to a proper darkroom space.

Randy, I owe you bigtime!

Randy H
22-Jul-2007, 05:51
You have a basement room, and don't have a darkroom yet??? :eek:

Scott --
22-Jul-2007, 06:42
Well, I was gonna head to dePot and get stuff for a dimmer outlet and lighting setup for printing. Now it looks like I'm going to trim out our basement storage room instead so it can serve as a make-shift darkroom. :p

The tray-type developing didn't improve anything. In fact, it didn't cover the sheet. There's a clear line where the developer stopped contacting the paper. Fogging ended right there, leaving nice, white paper. So, I'm ordering some Dektol powder. Any hints on using the stuff? Mix up a gallon? How long will it keep mixed?

Man, I thought contact printing was s'posed to be easy...

David A. Goldfarb
22-Jul-2007, 07:04
The normal dilution for prints with Dektol is 1+2. Try 2 minutes.

In a partially full bottle the stock solution lasts a few months, longer in full bottles. You could buy a smaller package, if you don't plan to use that much, or mix it into several small bottles for storage. Mix the whole package, though.

Brian Ellis
22-Jul-2007, 08:01
While it's conceivable the problem is some of the relatively unusual things David mentions, and while his suggestions are certainly good ones worth trying, to me this looks like a classic case of fogged paper. I don't think it's a light leak at your end since the entire sheet looks uniformly fogged. In my fortunately limited experience darkroom light leaks more commonly show up as streaks or darkened edges.

It's conceivable that your safelight is the problem so try developing a sheet in the dark and see what happens. I vaguely remember that one of the old Forte papers had to be used under a red safelight or else the print looked something like yours. Also try pulling a sheet from the bottom of the stack and see what happens. And finally, change your light source to a normal household bulb, preferably one that's high at the blue end of the spectrum.

But my guess is you'll get the same result as you're getting now because the paper probably was fogged before it got to you. Given the way sales of enlarging paper have dropped in recent years, this paper could have been sitting around a warehouse somewhere for a long time in conditions less than ideal for paper storage or the factory's quality control may not be that good. I remember getting a sealed box of Sterling paper years ago that was fogged out of the box so it does happen.

For future reference and without regard to this specific problem: (1) don't use a night light, just use a normal bulb, and (2) unless you're able to use filters and thereby change the contrast of VC paper (which can easily be done if you use an enlarger as a light source but otherwise is hard to do) use graded paper in several different contrasts if you can find it.

David A. Goldfarb
22-Jul-2007, 08:16
Excessive base fog with certain developers is less unusual when you get into these East European papers. A number of the Cachet papers, for instance, which were made by Efke in general, warned that softer or warmtone developers could produce unacceptable levels of base fog, and my experience with Structura Lux, for instance, bore that out (I don't know that this was an Efke emulsion--it was photo linen). I've even gotten high base fog (not as bad as this example) with new Oriental Seagull using a long development time in Agfa Neutol WA. Changing developers took care of it.

You don't get this so much with Ilford or Kodak papers, because they are just designed to be easy to use under a wider variety of conditions. On the other hand, they are less flexible.

Aerial fog is pretty unusual, even if you agitate by flipping the prints in the trays, but rotary drum processing increases the exposure to air substantially, so it's something to consider, but it sounds like it's not the cause in this case.

Another possibility is that the paper is older than the label suggests, in which case, correspondence with Freestyle is in order. The normal solutions for age fog are to add a restrainer like benzotriazole to the developer, increase print exposure and try to reduce development time to less than 1 min.

Scott --
22-Jul-2007, 09:29
Well, I'm ordering some Dektol powder now, and some Ilford grade 2 paper. Between all that, I'm hoping something will work. I've also trimmed out the storage room in the basement (the door had never been trimmed), and bought gear for a lighting setup. It'll be a darkroom, minus running water, come week's end.

Gonna knock this one yet. Thanks for the help, everyone.

Michael Graves
22-Jul-2007, 09:44
I had two boxes of Kentmere that arrived fogged. That's why I don't buy it any more.

Scott --
22-Jul-2007, 09:58
What do you do then, Michael? Will the dealer take it back? I sent a note off to Freestyle about it, but I'm not sure what to expect...

Donald Qualls
22-Jul-2007, 12:31
Silver halide can become chemically fogged if it's exposed to certain chemicals -- hydrogen sulfide is one of the worst. Many of the foggants in the environment can slip through packaging, if it's not a continuous film, heat-sealed plastic.

In your case, I doubt Dektol will help; if you have some HC-110, you might try developing a sheet in that (use Dilution A and your three minute time will probably be pretty close); HC-110 has a strong anti-fog in the mix, which makes it the developer of choice for old film, and halide is halide, in terms of developer chemistry -- paper vs. film is a difference in speed and contrast, not in what the light sensitive material is made of.

You *can* get fogging of paper from overdevelopment, BTW; with many modern papers, one minute is plenty of development and two is enough for practically all (though I wouldn't expect significant fog from developing for only three minutes, it's possible if you have a fast-developing paper).

Many papers made in the 1980s and 1990s had lots of developer incorporated in the emulsion -- partly, this was to increase their sensitivity (shortening printing times), but it also served to make them usable with "activation" processors. The problem is that the more developer there is in the emulsion, the shorter the paper's shelf life; if you got DI paper that's been on a shelf for 4-5 years (not impossible at all), it might be fogged just from age. The test for this would be to make a simple alkaline solution (a couple tablespoons of washing soda in a quart of water will do nicely) and develop a sheet of your paper in it, out in the light. If it turns black where the alkali touches it, it's a DI paper and probably fogged just from age.

Scott --
22-Jul-2007, 13:01
There ya go, Donald. Test sheet came out no fog at all. I'm doing a test print now. Keep your fingers crossed!

Scott --
22-Jul-2007, 15:46
Donald, you make me feel inadequate as a chemist.

Ok, FWIW, I built a little rheostat, ala Diwan Bhathal, to control an outlet, into which I plugged a little gooseneck desk lamp with a 10W appliance bulb. Dialed the lamp way down, placed the bulb about a meter away from the frame, and ended up with a 40 second exposure. Developed three minutes in HC-110 dil A at room temp (I really ought to measure that afore I forgets about it... :rolleyes:), stopped with water, and fixed three minutes. Aside from some dust on the glass (ugh), turned out pretty stankin' nice:

http://i80.photobucket.com/albums/j185/bliorg/th_contact001.jpg (http://i80.photobucket.com/albums/j185/bliorg/contact001.jpg)

I even dodged a little in the foreground.

Thanks for all the help everyone. I'm officially dangerous now. I've made my first contact print. :D


Randy H
22-Jul-2007, 15:55
By George, methinks you got it.
Looks good.

22-Jul-2007, 23:05

Donald Qualls
23-Jul-2007, 04:22
There ya' go, that looks pretty decent.

You'll probably have noticed that HC-110 produces a very cold tone relative to print-specific developers (and, of course, it's relatively expensive to use this way); you can also try adding some potassium bromide or (preferably) benzotriazole to the developer you were previously using. Both will reduce fog, though benzotriazole does it with less reduction in overall development.

Scott --
23-Jul-2007, 06:52
Well, the HC-110 can do a bunch of prints before I have to remake it, and it's only about 18mL per 300mL solution, so it's not that bad. And as for coolness, I can't tell yet. I'm just way excited to have a print!

Now for prints of the kids... :D

23-Jul-2007, 07:01

We have tread similar paths with contact printing. I even had a batch of fogged paper like yours. I think mine was from being left in a hot garage all summer :)

By doing a lot of reading here and on apug I've learned a ton and I'm pretty much willing to try anything. I know someone here has already done it so I can always ask if I get stuck.

Good luck with it all.