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Thread: Viewing Lights in the Darkroom?

  1. #11

    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Mt. Pleasant, Wisconsin USA
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    213

    Re: Viewing Lights in the Darkroom?

    Quote Originally Posted by LFLarry View Post
    Hi, I am getting ready to replace my old viewing lights that I have in my darkroom that I use to view the prints while making them. I know there are a lot of different opinions about light temperature, wattage, distance from the prints, etc.

    I would like to know what you use to view your prints and any tips or advise that you think might be helpful.

    I am looking forward to the responses because I always learn something new that I would have never thought of myself.

    Thanks!
    I attended John Sexton's workshop a couple of years back and he addressed this question while the group was in his darkroom. He recommended an incandescent bulb, and he pointed out that he uses a small-sized soft white flood lamp bulb that is positioned a couple of feet above his reach (near ceiling of his darkroom) in the area where he most commonly examines wet prints while working towards his goal. As far as light level or brightness, he recommended to take your incident light meter and set it for ISO 100, and seek to have the meter measure an EV in the range of 6-to-7 at the level where you will expect to examine your wet prints.
    ... 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

  2. #12

    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    Collinsville, CT USA
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    1,491

    Re: Viewing Lights in the Darkroom?

    In my case, till a few years ago I used a Kodak hanging safelight (no filter) with a 60 watt bulb aimed down at the sink. Finally a few years ago accepted the fact that this was hardly an acceptable way to judge wet prints. Kept looking on eBay for a Graphiclite print viewing hood/station. Finally found one for a buy-it-now price less than its shipping costs and acquired it. It sits very near my darkroom sink. Use it a lot for viewing and judging wet prints and final dry prints. For using it to judge wet prints (just out of the fixer), I transfer the wet prints in a tray to be viewed under the Graphiclite print viewing station. Also next to the just processed print is a wet print (same paper) of a step wedge. I am able to compare the "calibrated" wet print of the step wedge to my wet print... It just all works for me. Had previously used a Microwave, per an AA video, to "fast dry" test prints band also tried Fred Picker's "dry down" timer but just prefer my current technique.
    Last edited by Greg; 23-Jan-2020 at 10:23. Reason: left out word

  3. #13

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    Sep 1998
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    Oregon now (formerly Austria)
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    2,528

    Re: Viewing Lights in the Darkroom?

    There's a lot of information and opinion on this subject in previous threads here and over at Photrio. A search should turn up lots of things to think about.

    My personal preference for light for evaluating print densities while I'm printing is light that I would consider ideal for a gallery, i.e., I view my prints under what I consider good gallery lighting. I have a 4x8-foot magnetic white board at one end of the darkroom lit by track lighting with a mix of daylight and regular incandescent bulbs. I use both halogen and regular tungsten.

    Dry-down is an issue, so I like to let my prints dry before making final decisions. While printing, I'll squeegee off a print if it seems close to a final version, hang it on the board with clips and find something else to do while it dries enough so I can really judge the whites (dry-down seems to affect the highlights more than the shadows). Often, I'll have three or four prints hung up with only subtle differences. I've also learned to leave a little "room" for toning. Often, I'll wash and dry prints with slight differences to see how they will work after toning.

    I believe that there is a range of densities that work well in both brighter gallery lighting but also work under less-intense light one might find in a home display. A fine print needs to look good in anything from almost direct sunlight coming through a window to rather dim light from ambient room light at night in a home setting. I try to find this sweet spot by evaluating the print under different brightnesses. I'll switch off the track lighting on my viewing board and just use the bounced ceiling light to see how it works in dimmer light and hold a print right up to the bulb to see how it will stand up to really bright light.

    When toning, I have 47-watt halogen bulbs (soft-white old-style bulbs that replace the 60-watt tungsten, not the reflector style) in track lighting over my darkroom sink. These are about four-five feet away from the trays. I selenium tone in a neutral gray tray (so I can judge the tone change better; red trays really reflect back on to the print and make judgements difficult) and tone by inspection. When the print tone and densities are right, I transfer the print to the hypo-clear tray. I find that different images need a slightly different toning times to reach what I consider best.

    After toning, I'll hang up the prints and view them again. At this stage, I may toss some that don't make the cut.

    Hope this helps,

    Doremus

  4. #14

    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    322

    Re: Viewing Lights in the Darkroom?

    That is the kind of info I was hoping to get... Thank you for sharing this. Very helpful.


    Quote Originally Posted by JMO View Post
    I attended John Sexton's workshop a couple of years back and he addressed this question while the group was in his darkroom. He recommended an incandescent bulb, and he pointed out that he uses a small-sized soft white flood lamp bulb that is positioned a couple of feet above his reach (near ceiling of his darkroom) in the area where he most commonly examines wet prints while working towards his goal. As far as light level or brightness, he recommended to take your incident light meter and set it for ISO 100, and seek to have the meter measure an EV in the range of 6-to-7 at the level where you will expect to examine your wet prints.

  5. #15

    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    322

    Re: Viewing Lights in the Darkroom?

    Hi Doremus, very helpful indeed. Thank you very much for your thoughtful reply and for sharing your knowledge.


    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    There's a lot of information and opinion on this subject in previous threads here and over at Photrio. A search should turn up lots of things to think about.

    My personal preference for light for evaluating print densities while I'm printing is light that I would consider ideal for a gallery, i.e., I view my prints under what I consider good gallery lighting. I have a 4x8-foot magnetic white board at one end of the darkroom lit by track lighting with a mix of daylight and regular incandescent bulbs. I use both halogen and regular tungsten.

    Dry-down is an issue, so I like to let my prints dry before making final decisions. While printing, I'll squeegee off a print if it seems close to a final version, hang it on the board with clips and find something else to do while it dries enough so I can really judge the whites (dry-down seems to affect the highlights more than the shadows). Often, I'll have three or four prints hung up with only subtle differences. I've also learned to leave a little "room" for toning. Often, I'll wash and dry prints with slight differences to see how they will work after toning.

    I believe that there is a range of densities that work well in both brighter gallery lighting but also work under less-intense light one might find in a home display. A fine print needs to look good in anything from almost direct sunlight coming through a window to rather dim light from ambient room light at night in a home setting. I try to find this sweet spot by evaluating the print under different brightnesses. I'll switch off the track lighting on my viewing board and just use the bounced ceiling light to see how it works in dimmer light and hold a print right up to the bulb to see how it will stand up to really bright light.

    When toning, I have 47-watt halogen bulbs (soft-white old-style bulbs that replace the 60-watt tungsten, not the reflector style) in track lighting over my darkroom sink. These are about four-five feet away from the trays. I selenium tone in a neutral gray tray (so I can judge the tone change better; red trays really reflect back on to the print and make judgements difficult) and tone by inspection. When the print tone and densities are right, I transfer the print to the hypo-clear tray. I find that different images need a slightly different toning times to reach what I consider best.

    After toning, I'll hang up the prints and view them again. At this stage, I may toss some that don't make the cut.

    Hope this helps,

    Doremus

  6. #16
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    SF Bay area, CA
    Posts
    14,129

    Re: Viewing Lights in the Darkroom?

    I have serious viewing lights in an adjacent room where I do retouching too. I use very high-quality 5000K 98CRI color matching tubes from Germany. I think Just Normlicht offers something similar. One never really knows until the print has both received final toning and has completely dried down. But I have a little toaster oven nearby to dry test strips, and generally know what to expect. Toning obviously takes place in the sink, where I can see what going on with a tungsten floodlight overhead, which is OK for that - just OK. But for critical viewing as well as color printing, I like to have available a more serious option. But I also look at the print under other types of lighting and in sunlight too, since display lighting differs from location to location.

  7. #17

    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    322

    Re: Viewing Lights in the Darkroom?

    Excellent points Drew. This is a really important matter, so it is good to get a lot of ideas and input from the group. Good stuff.


    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    I have serious viewing lights in an adjacent room where I do retouching too. I use very high-quality 5000K 98CRI color matching tubes from Germany. I think Just Normlicht offers something similar. One never really knows until the print has both received final toning and has completely dried down. But I have a little toaster oven nearby to dry test strips, and generally know what to expect. Toning obviously takes place in the sink, where I can see what going on with a tungsten floodlight overhead, which is OK for that - just OK. But for critical viewing as well as color printing, I like to have available a more serious option. But I also look at the print under other types of lighting and in sunlight too, since display lighting differs from location to location.

  8. #18

    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    SF Bay Area
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    2,376

    Re: Viewing Lights in the Darkroom?

    The answer is in knowing the final destination and purpose of the print. If you are printing for reproduction, that is one thing. If you are printing for a gallery exhibit, another purpose. Most of my work is exhibited in conditions outside of my control.

    So, I make prints that please me, initially viewed under a 60watt bulb at the fixer stage, and then taken to an adjacent room with a skylight. At that point, a decision is made.

    The majority of my purchased prints are on the walls of residences where the owner controls the lighting, and adjacent wall color. All factors to consider.

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