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Thread: Let’s open a new can of worms- “best color for the enlarger’s table surface?

  1. #21

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    Re: Let’s open a new can of worms- “best color for the enlarger’s table surface?

    If your enlarger is spilling enough light for it to be reflected off the walls in sufficient quantity to affect your prints, the problem is the enlarger head, not the walls. Also, would like to re-emphasise Drew's comments about reflections off bits of the enlarger itself - parts of the lower section of floor standing DeVeres can reflect image spill, some black board & judicious use of the masking blades in the head/ carrier solve it pretty painlessly.

    Having used grey & white easels, white is much easier to use - you can see the image for a start! Only problem is enlarging on to film & reflections bouncing off the baseboard - but a piece of black paper under the film solves that.

  2. #22

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    Re: Let’s open a new can of worms- “best color for the enlarger’s table surface?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    Most printing paper is too slow to cause headaches; but if you sometimes enlarge onto regular sheet film like I do, some extra care is warranted.
    In theory (not accounting LIRF) medium sensitivity is irrelevant for that, if a medium has lower ISO then you have to expose a longer time, so the effect it's the same. What matters is the image_forming_light vs stray.

    This is easy to measure with a luxmeter. Safelight closed, we cast a shadow in the projection and we meter there, then we also meter in the dense areas (highlights in the scene). From that we now the effect of the light bouncing in the walls. A certain amount of stray light may not be bad, even it may work like a benefical mild pre-flash. But projecting on a 1m print will illuminate well a white wall in the enlarger's back !!

    ______

    Regarding that the base table color is irrelevant if we mask the negative to project only on paper, also usually we also have an easel on the base board. Whay it's reflecting is the paper, not the table under the easel.

  3. #23
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Let’s open a new can of worms- “best color for the enlarger’s table surface?

    Handeling color film under an enarger requires special considerations and I'd probably heed all Drew's remarks above in that case.

    In terms of B&W enlarging, I'm curious where people are getting enough stray light on the enlarger table to cause an issue. Even if there were some stray light hitting the table it would have to reflect off your mirror on the ceiling and pass through the enlarger head, to reach the paper. Many B&W enlarging papers are white with a shiny surface. This provides more light reflection than the baseboard.

    One can measure combined stray light and flare effects by projection printing a step wedge to paper (mask it in the enlarger and project on most of the paper area) and compare that to a contact print of the same step wedge. It is a laudable task to get them to be as close as possible. Primary source of the flare would be a dirty enlarging lens. White-light reflectivity of the baseboard would likely be undetectable in this test. I'm sure we would all like to see anyones results showing improvement in this measurable projection printing contrast by painting a white baseboard black.

  4. #24
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Let’s open a new can of worms- “best color for the enlarger’s table surface?

    Another consideration which might not apply to everyone, but could affect choice of a truly versatile darkroom beyond basic black and white work : Durst 138 enlargers were also designed for copy stand use, with sheet film in the carrier acting as the camera, and baseboard lights as the copy surface. That posed a far greater risk of reflections off the column which cross-polarization of the lights could only partially control. Today it would be hard to identify anyone still using a LARKA copy carrier; but 138 chassis minus a head are still coveted for copystand use, with some kind of camera attached to the horizontal column extending from the vertical one. Glennview even machines an adapter to make this convenient. What I did in my copystand days was to cover the stainless columns with a sheath of darkroom black-out fabric - the deep velvety black non-linty kind. Even slipping black ABS corrugated pipe over the stainless components allowed too much refection, especially on shiny surfaces like Cibachrome prints. So my argument is this, whereas I began in color photography and then added black and white, there may well be people putting together a nice black and white darkroom, but who might want the optional capacity to later branch out into either color or even black and white processes that require enlarging onto reflective film. I recently did something like that myself, which involved a TMX green separation filter interpositive from an enlarged color negative, which was in turn contact printed onto Ortho Litho film to achieve a very different look black and white print from what would have been achieved by old panchromatic printing paper. It even turned out very different from the parallel shot I made at the time directly onto regular black and white film - a nice print itself, but lacking something quite special I was after, and willing to put in a lot of time and effort to get. Just an example. I like experimenting like this.

  5. #25
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Let’s open a new can of worms- “best color for the enlarger’s table surface?

    I just noted Pere's intermediate post. I have a very expensive darkroom meter hundreds of times more sensitive than a lux meter (have a decent one of those too). But if a lux meter can even detect light in proximity to film, that's waaaaay too much light! Of course, ortho lith film is quite slow and designed to be used under a red safelight, just like paper; but even with that, I'm careful about reflections from nearby instrumentation. One of my favorite lab films for technical usage is TMY 100. Because it has such a very long straight line, even tiny amounts of light from luminous timer hands, for example, can fog the lower values. TMY 400 is obviously even more sensitive. And in technical usage, such films are not only laying about awhile in the dark, like for punch and register applications, but often developed to a relatively high gamma - higher than for ordinary photography printing applications. Therefore, the usual mantra, "I don't have any problem with film" is valid only if someone else has the same generic parameters, and hasn't reach the threshold yet. But it's definitely there. And it might already be affecting something you're not aware of. Therefore, I prefer to keep "dark" in the term, "darkroom", without the extra prefix, "sorta-dark-room".

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