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Thread: My first 5x4 prints!

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2014
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    My first 5x4 prints!

    Just finished setting up my new bathroom darkroom and first thing to do was make 5x4 contacts!



    My this is fun and the small prints look gorgeous in the flesh!

    The printing setup itself is just a 7W lightbulb hanging from the ceiling, a power switch and 'one potato, two potato'. There are a couple of issues still, my developer seems to be far to strong as the prints come out way fast (10 seconds or so) leaving very little control.

    Now i need to shoot more negatives to print! Fun!

  2. #2

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    Re: My first 5x4 prints!

    Do keep in mind that Edward Weston did some wonderful work with just the single-bulb setup you describe! But to more fully ascribe to E.W.'s process - you might want to count peppers instead of potatoes! (Pepper #30 always works for me!)

  3. #3

    Join Date
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    Re: My first 5x4 prints!

    Is your developer too strong? or is the exposure a bit too much? try moving the bulb farther from the paper.
    But that development by inspection does add a nice cathedral and UFO tong print to your cloud photograph!
    ~nicholas
    lifeofstawa
    stawastawa at gmail

  4. #4

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    Re: My first 5x4 prints!

    I've been doing similar contact prints. What I do for my lightsource is use a flash set to 1/4 power bounced off the ceiling. Super repeatable and seems very even.

  5. #5
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: My first 5x4 prints!

    Very good.

    What developer are you using?

    Normal development time for b&w prints is 1 to 2 minutes.

    - Leigh
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

  6. #6

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    Re: My first 5x4 prints!

    Thanks for the comments!

    I'm planning to build a timer for the lightbulb but using a flash sounds like a good idea, i will give that a try first. As i'm down to ~2 second exposures and the bulb is the lowest powered one i could find (2W 2800K diffused LED) nor is there room to move it up higher.

    For Developer i'm using Maco ecoprint at 1+9 with the 1 Litre solution at room temperature, for the next printing batch I will try to dilute the existing working solution by hand.

  7. #7

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    Re: My first 5x4 prints!

    I don't know that developer, but at 1:9 dilution, I suspect that that is NOT the problem. Have you let any prints develop to completion? Try leaving a print in the developer for 2-3 minutes. If it turn out very dark, you're probably over exposing. There are a few ways to attenuate the light. You could put the light on a dimmer or mount it in a coffee can and put one or two pieces of paper over the opening. I don't think heat will be a problem with LED, but check that it doesn't get hot. You could also try a paper designed for contact printing such as Fomalux 111, available from Freestyle or Lodima, available from Michael Smith (lodima.org).
    Hope this helps.
    Chuck

  8. #8

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    Re: My first 5x4 prints!

    Hi Chuck, thanks for the tips.

    I haven't tried just leaving the print for 2 minutes, i'll give it a try.

    Not all LED lamps work with dimmers and this one doesn't, i'll try building some light box for it.

    The shop i usually buy from didn't have a real contact printing paper so going off this: tutorial i went for MGIV.

    As i still have 90 sheets left i will just continue with this first before buying another paper.

  9. #9

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    Re: My first 5x4 prints!

    Some other thoughts...If you have an enlarger you could use that as your light source. I addition to being able to control the light output through head height and lens aperture, it would be easy to use contrast filters. If you're going to stay with multigrade enlarging paper, I think this would be your best option. Another question is what your negatives look like. Underexposed and/or under developed negatives will be thin and will contribute to short exposure times. From what I can see, you don't look to be too far off though.
    I suggest posting about your problem in the "Darkroom processing" sub forum. I think think you'll get many useful suggestions there.

  10. #10

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    Re: My first 5x4 prints!

    And thanks again!

    I dont have an enlarger....yet, as another project i'm building a projection back for my shenhao. But for now i'm doing contacts.

    With all the tips i think its clear now what all variables i have to experiment with, first thing to do is build a small holder around the lamp so i can put filters (or just paper as a makeshift ND) in front of it. I'll experiment and if i have any issues for sure i will post again!

    First i need more interesting negatives to print, time to get my ass out of the door :-)

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