View Full Version : where did my contrast go?

22-Dec-2007, 12:06
Ok, I'll try to keep this short and not ramble.

I just moved to new place, new darkroom, new water supply. I also ran out of fp4, and just happen to have a few 50 sheet boxes of Efke PL 100, which expired in august of this year. I did a few tests to get my dev time in the ballpark, and I headed out to shoot. I processed the negs just as always, pcat- HD 1:1:100 in a jobo for 8min. Negs looked pretty good to my eye, but when I went to print on my usual paper (kentmere bromide gr 3, ansco 130), the prints looked pretty crummy. Dull contrast, no blacks, but the whites were good. So now I'm going through variables to figure out just where the problem is coming from. I always match my film to my paper using a very simple method, and so far I've had no problem getting pretty excellent results. Does BW film lose contrast only a few month after expiring? Maybe my developer is bad, but it's the Pcat- HD kit from the formularly and I've only had it for 3 months, the bottles aren't even half empty. The negatives, to my eye at least, don't look any different than any of the efke negs I have done.. Kind of rambling I know, but I have noone to ask about such things but myself, and once I'm stumped I have you guys! ;)

22-Dec-2007, 12:12
Print some known good negatives.

Gene McCluney
22-Dec-2007, 12:31
It's very hard to judge the printing contrast of negatives that are developed in a staining developer such as the one you are using. Different film stocks produce different color stain (even if this is not obvious to your naked eye), thus rendering the contrast differently on the same grade paper. I would say that you need to increase your developing time, or solution concentration to get more staining for this Efke film. You may need to make the negative look more "contrasty" to get it to print the same.

Bruce Watson
22-Dec-2007, 14:05
...the prints looked pretty crummy. Dull contrast, no blacks, but the whites were good.

If you don't have good blacks in a darkroom print, it's either due to print exposure or print processing. The blacks in the print are due to the low density parts of the negative, so poor blacks in the print can't really be a film problem, and certainly not a film contrast problem.

22-Dec-2007, 14:37
Hmmm ... .changed locations?... New water supply?

Do you still have access to a jar of the water you used to use. If so, send a jar of old water and a jar of the new supply to a testing lab. Check first with your public utility for water and see if they do that as a public service for a small fee. Things like a different makeup of chemicals, or PH being different may be affecting your results. It sounds like not much else has changed in your processing practices, but water varies from water district to district.

22-Dec-2007, 14:53
Ok, the problem was with my ansco.. I assumed it was fine, but apparently it went bad extremely quickly- very odd. Never had ansco quit on me in 3 weeks, I must have cross contaminated or something just as clumsy. What a bummer, at least I've got amidol around to tide me over. Thanks for the responses guys :)