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Thread: Where’s a good visual resource to explore fibre based papers?

  1. #11

    Re: Where’s a good visual resource to explore fibre based papers?

    Quote Originally Posted by JMO View Post
    Though I've been making silver gelatin B&W prints in my darkroom for only about 5 years, I'm pretty much in the same place as Corran when it comes to my preferences among FB papers and developers (I use very little RC paper). I got there after starting with Ilford FB Glossy "Classic" and Dektol based on recos from fellow Midwest LF Asylum (MWLFA) members and experienced LFers and printmakers who live near me and have helped with my questions, and observing the many excellent prints of other MWLFA members at our Annual Print Reviews (4th Saturday of each January in Chesterton IN). Initially I was using a Beselar 45MX enlarger with a condenser head, and found that Ilford's FB Warmtone paper was giving me better results (than Glossy "Classic") as the shadow areas tended to block up less. But at those times I was also tending to underexpose my negatives (thus the problems with shadows when printing). I then attended one of John Sexton's workshops, which helped me greatly. Based on his review of some of my prints and some questioning, JS recommended I switch to an enlarger with a diffusion head and keep working the Warmtone paper (and Dektol) if I was liking that combination well enough. However, that workshop also led me to adjust my exposure of negatives in the field, and how I developed my films with my JOBO CPP2 processor (using D-76 at 1:1 and 3010 Expert Drums). Net/net, better and more printable negatives, and switching to an LPL enlarger with diffusion head and VCCE module, allowed me to improve my printmaking A LOT!

    The LFer who sold me the LPL enlarger also recommended that I try EC-130 paper developer (equivalent to ANSCO 130 I think), which I make from scratch as needed. Over the last couple of years I have evolved to use EC-130 and Dektol about equally, and I now prefer the Ilford FB Glossy "Classic" paper a bit more than the Warmtone, though I use both. Earlier this summer, another MWLFA member who no longer makes darkroom prints gave me his remaining supplies of several FB enlarging papers (all Variable Contrast), including some of the Ilford papers mentioned above plus others (e.g., Zone VI FB Glossy, ADOC MC110, Bergger Neutral and Warmtone, and Forte Semi Matte). With this opportunity to try these new (to me) papers, with EC-130 or Dektol, I've learned that I still prefer the Ilford FB Glossy "Classic" and Warmtone papers; that I want to explore a bit more using Semi Matte (Ilford or ADOX MC112) and Bergger Neutral Tone papers; and stick with EC-130 or Dektol. ...
    Great info, I plan to use Dektol as a starting point anyway so that’s good to hear.

    Re paper, I’ll get some small quantities of Ilford warmtone semi matt and Adox and see how they work out, used with selenium toner too.


  2. #12

    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Mt. Pleasant, Wisconsin USA

    Re: Where’s a good visual resource to explore fibre based papers?

    Re selenium toner, I use Kodak's Rapid Selenium Toner at about 1:10 in Hypo Clearing Agent solution as my final step before final wash, drying and mounting. I usually don't tone to the point where I see much color or tone change, but like the overall effect on the FB Glossy and Warmtone papers I print with. I haven't used and toned enough prints on Ilford or ADOX MC 112 semi-matte papers to offer any comments on how they tone out using KRST.
    ... JMOwens (Mt. Pleasant, Wisc. USA)

    "If people only knew how hard I work to gain my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all." ...Michelangelo

  3. #13
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    SF Bay area, CA

    Re: Where’s a good visual resource to explore fibre based papers?

    Frankly, unless one has taken special care, the nuances of toning are likely to be misrepresented by web images, particularly when trying to make subtle distinction between papers, degree of toning, or other inevitable visual complexities. There are some decent descriptions here and there that might help. But none of this is a substitute for going to exhibitions by skilled printers, or visiting them, or perhaps taking workshops. You really need to see the real deal with real eyes. But sooner or later, you also have to just do it, experiment with various options in the darkroom, and find your own path. You discover things along the way that apply to your own sense of visualization and presentation. Trying to mentally pre-load this into your mind in advance can get you only limited mileage. Start with one of any number of good papers and learn its potential. When you think you've reached its boundaries, maybe try something else if you're not satisfied. Same with developers, toners. I've been printing for decades, but learn something new and useful every single session. That's part of the fun of it. Even making mistakes can teach you things, and sometimes land a superb print you wouldn't have achieved if things turned out "right". Fortunately, today we have a variety of truly excellent, versatile VC papers to choose from (and yes, projection papers work well for
    contact printing too). Your going to read all kinds of personal preferences on threads like this one, which at times seem conflicting; but really, you could simply pick just about any of them and be off to a good start. More basic decisions like paper surface (gloss versus matte) and range of image color (warm versus cool, or neutral potentially going either way) are relatively easy to decide on up front, based sheerly on personal taste.

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