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Thread: Can you give me ideas on doing contact prints with limited space?

  1. #1
    Ranie Dib Rain Dance's Avatar
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    Can you give me ideas on doing contact prints with limited space?

    So I am planning to do contact prints for my 4x5s. Space is very limited, so what is the most compact way of doing contact prints? I dont mind a DIY project, I just need ideas as I am drawing a blank right now. I am also going to be using direct positive paper but when I want something faster in speed I want to use some TXP320. Thank you all.
    visit my Website : www.raniedib.com

  2. #2
    Dave Karp
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    Re: Can you give me ideas on doing contact prints with limited space?

    Bathrooms are fine. Block out the windows. You need a stable table or perhaps the countertop if you have enough room. A bulb in a socket or one of those reflectors with the pressure clamp you can get at Home Depot work well. You might even paint the reflector white with appliance paint. You can vary the height of the socket/reflector or the power of the bulb. I use a Printfile proofer to hold the negative/paper sandwich.

    Or, you can use a 35mm or MF enlarger for the light source if you have enough room. This gives more control over the light because you can adjust the aperture on your lens.

  3. #3

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    Re: Can you give me ideas on doing contact prints with limited space?

    There is the difficult way and the easy way.
    In both cases get a piece of 1/4in clear glass plate cut to about 8x10 and have the edges smoothed. This lays over the sandwich of neg + unexposed paper. A safelight is needed, red will work and is easy to find used.

    The difficult way is with an improvised incandescent lamp hanging somewhere above the paper and a manual lamp on-off switch somewhere on the lamp wire and a timer that beeps seconds.

    The easy way is using an enlarger with lens to project light onto the baseboard and an automatic timer for the light and Ilford variable contrast (multigrade) contrast adjustment filters somewhere in the enlarger (there are three methods).

    The drawbacks of the difficult way are poor control over lamp brightness (a dimmer might help) absence of multigrade contrast filtration and, if everything is taken down after use, there may be poor repeatability.

  4. #4

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    Re: Can you give me ideas on doing contact prints with limited space?

    Use a camera flash as the light source. Point it at the ceiling. Very repeatable, very accurate timings, small and compact. Most decent flashes have adjustable settings from full power to 1/125 power so you can adjust as needed to get the contact print looking how you want.

  5. #5
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Can you give me ideas on doing contact prints with limited space?

    Quote Originally Posted by blue4130 View Post
    Use a camera flash as the light source. Point it at the ceiling. Very repeatable, very accurate timings, small and compact. Most decent flashes have adjustable settings from full power to 1/125 power so you can adjust as needed to get the contact print looking how you want.
    That is just plain nutz. 'Most decent flashes' do not have adequate power for contact prints compared to a lowly 40W bulb in an inexpensive reflector.

  6. #6
    Roger Thoms's Avatar
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    Re: Can you give me ideas on doing contact prints with limited space?

    Contact printing Ilford Multigrade RC I ended up with 7 watt bulb about 3 1/2’ above the contact frame, this was with multi grade filters. I started out with a 40 watt bulb and my exposures were way to short. You just have to experiment and find what works.

    I’ll have to see if I have photos of the setup, pretty simple, light and reflector from Home Depot.

    Roger.

  7. #7
    Gary Beasley's Avatar
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    Re: Can you give me ideas on doing contact prints with limited space?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jac@stafford.net View Post
    That is just plain nutz. 'Most decent flashes' do not have adequate power for contact prints compared to a lowly 40W bulb in an inexpensive reflector.
    I think he was offering a way to contact onto the TXP 320, which would need way less exposure.

  8. #8

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    Re: Can you give me ideas on doing contact prints with limited space?

    When I was studying at RIT in the 1970s, strictly for convenience, used the bathroom in our apartment as a darkroom. Also did a lot of night shooting, and the darkrooms in the Photo building were closed when I got through shooting. Piece of plywood over the sink and cabinet to give me sone "counter" space. 35mm Durst enlarger was placed on to of the seat of the toilet. Over 3/4 of the tub was a sheet of plywood to put my trays on. Bathtub was filled with about 6 inches of water and was used for my first wash. After fixing the prints, just dropped them into the water. Because of the layout, had to start with the developer on the right and stop bath and fix going to the left... took a while for me to get used of the direction of the flow. Was shooting 35mm and 8x10. Raised the 35mm Durst enlarger's head as high as it would go when making contact prints. sink was used for processing 35mm and 11x14" trays on top of the plywood for processing my 8x10 negatives. Safe light was jury-rigged to hang from a shelf above the tub. Was pointed towards the ceiling. Only problem was that the ceiling fan also had a light in it when the fan was turned on. Simply disassembled it and removed the bulb. Having the ceiling fan on was essential in that closed space. Processed more than a hundred rolls of 35mm film and around a hundred sheets of 8x10 film in hat bathroom converted to a darkroom. Chemicals stored in gallon jugs in my bedroom closet. Apartment temperature was 68 degrees, so never had to cool or warm up my chemistry. Chemistry was always free for student use, imagine that! Made quite a few exhibition quality prints back then in that bathroom. Only thing I didn't do in that bathroom was tone my prints... was far easier to do them in batches in one of the Photo building's darkrooms under more controlled (illumination wise) conditions.
    Many years later was in a Condo for a few years and also used the bathroom as a darkroom. This time a bit more elaborate using a Durst CE1000 enlarger on a rollable cart. More counter space (with piece of plywood over the sink's cabinet) proved to be invaluable. Instead of filling the tub with 6 inches of water, used a 20x24" tray with a Kodak syphon.
    Limited facilities are no excuse.. one just has to adapt. Remember reading about W Eugene Smith using a very temporary darkroom in Japan without heat, but still proceeding to print his amazing images.

  9. #9

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    Re: Can you give me ideas on doing contact prints with limited space?

    I recall my dad using a dedicated contact printer for 4x5. Basically a box with white and safe lights at the bottom, frosted glass above, and a simple hinged pressure plate to hold the film and paper together. I suspect the hardest part in building one would be even illumination.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  10. #10
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    Re: Can you give me ideas on doing contact prints with limited space?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rain Dance View Post
    I am also going to be using direct positive paper but when I want something faster in speed I want to use some TXP320.
    Can you explain what you mean by this? One of those is a paper, the other is a film. What do you intend to be contact printing on to what? Do you mean that in general you'll be using direct positive paper to make your prints in-camera, but when you need more speed you'll use TXP and need to contact print that on to paper?

    Keep in mind that contact prints from TXP usually look radically different from in-camera prints made with direct positive paper, although in printing TXP there are choices you can make that will give you results that are closer to what you will get from DPP.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rain Dance View Post
    Space is very limited, so what is the most compact way of doing contact prints?
    The thing that demands the most counter-top space is usually the processing, not the exposure, since most people process paper in open trays, and you need separate trays for at least developer, stop bath, fixer and wash. Some people are comfortable using trays stacked in a rack. It's also possible to process paper (or film) in a drum by pouring the required solutions in and out and rolling the drum to keep the solution moving over the exposed paper.

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