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Thread: 4 x 5 Contact Printing Question

  1. #1

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    4 x 5 Contact Printing Question

    I want to try and get to grips with printing some 4x5 negatives as contact prints with the ultimate goal of matting and framing them.

    Question:
    Through testing, do you find the time for the film edge to reach max black and then use this time, aperture setting and enlarger height for future contacts prints of the same film batch or do you really need to do a test strip for each negative you want to make a contact ring from ?

    Ian

  2. #2
    Huub
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    Re: 4 x 5 Contact Printing Question

    The exposure time to reach max black also depends on the base fog of the film, which in turn depends for instance on the age of the film and the choice of developer. A second factor in play is the choice of paper. My experience with Foma paper is that there can be differences in sensitivity between batch numbers, differences large enough to make it necessary for me to re-callibrate my RH-Design stopclock for each seperate batch. So the time and aperture settings for a given enlarger hight might bring you pretty close for a decent contact print, it will still needs some careful testing to get a really good print.

  3. #3

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    Re: 4 x 5 Contact Printing Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Huub View Post
    The exposure time to reach max black also depends on the base fog of the film, which in turn depends gor instance on the age of the film and the choice of developer. A second factor in play is the choice of paper. My experience with Foma paper is that there can be differences in sensitivity between batch numbers, differences large enough to make it necessary for me to re-callibrate mt RH-Design stopclock for each seperate batch. So the time and aperture settings for a given enlarger hight might bring you pretty close for a decent contact print, it will still needs some careful testing to get a really good print.
    Thanks, I will only use what I suggested as a rough guide then and lay it by ear for each contact print I do

  4. #4

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    Re: 4 x 5 Contact Printing Question

    Quote Originally Posted by IanBarber View Post
    I want to try and get to grips with printing some 4x5 negatives as contact prints with the ultimate goal of matting and framing them.

    Question:
    Through testing, do you find the time for the film edge to reach max black and then use this time, aperture setting and enlarger height for future contacts prints of the same film batch or do you really need to do a test strip for each negative you want to make a contact ring from ?

    Ian
    Ian,

    What you describe is making a "proper proof," i.e., with the film rebate printed and minimum exposure to make maximum black. This is useful for proofing, since it gives you lots of info about your exposure and development. I can make tweaks in E.I. and developing time from one look at a proper proof.

    However, when it comes to printing, it's a totally different story. Contact printing is not fundamentally different from enlarging. You need test strips, contrast adjustments, exposure refinements, dodging, burning, bleaching, etc., etc. It's the rare (very rare!) negative that prints itself at proper proofing time.

    Plan on spending as much time with your contact printing as you would with any other print.

    That said, just like with enlarging, your proper proof can give you information regarding contrast and exposure time for printing. If you've got negatives that are really similar in the proof, you can use the same starting exposure time and contrast as a previous print for your starting point. Who knows, you might just get lucky!

    Best,

    Doremus

  5. #5

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    Re: 4 x 5 Contact Printing Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    Ian,

    What you describe is making a "proper proof," i.e., with the film rebate printed and minimum exposure to make maximum black. This is useful for proofing, since it gives you lots of info about your exposure and development. I can make tweaks in E.I. and developing time from one look at a proper proof.

    However, when it comes to printing, it's a totally different story. Contact printing is not fundamentally different from enlarging. You need test strips, contrast adjustments, exposure refinements, dodging, burning, bleaching, etc., etc. It's the rare (very rare!) negative that prints itself at proper proofing time.

    Plan on spending as much time with your contact printing as you would with any other print.

    That said, just like with enlarging, your proper proof can give you information regarding contrast and exposure time for printing. If you've got negatives that are really similar in the proof, you can use the same starting exposure time and contrast as a previous print for your starting point. Who knows, you might just get lucky!

    Best,

    Doremus
    Thanks Doremus. yes you are correct, I was getting mixed up with this Proper proof as I recall watching a video on it by Fred Picker and this is what stuck in my mind for some reason.
    From now on, I shall treat making a contact print no different to an enlarged print.

    Ian

  6. #6
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    Re: 4 x 5 Contact Printing Question

    Just a little bit lighter than what looks good. Then dry the test strip with a hair dryer or microwave to see what it looks like dry.

    With B&W film, VC papers, graded papers, etc.. negatives don't need to be so perfectly exposed to a high level of print repeatability. Even if one could do that, scenes call for different subjective choices of bright and dark and contrast.

  7. #7

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    Re: 4 x 5 Contact Printing Question

    Quote Originally Posted by jp View Post
    Just a little bit lighter than what looks good. Then dry the test strip with a hair dryer or microwave to see what it looks like dry.

    With B&W film, VC papers, graded papers, etc.. negatives don't need to be so perfectly exposed to a high level of print repeatability. Even if one could do that, scenes call for different subjective choices of bright and dark and contrast.
    As you mentioned paper types JP, do you think the VC papers such as Ilford MG5 is suitable for small contact prints. The reason I ask is because in my mind, I am trying to achieve what I call the pictorial look if that's the correct term. From what I have read, it has been suggested that something like AZO or an equivalent paper maybe better for what I am aiming for.

  8. #8

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    Re: 4 x 5 Contact Printing Question

    Any enlarging paper will work fine for contact prints. That said, my favorites are Adox Lupex and Lodima. I tend to favor the Lupex because it reveals a slightly warmer tone than Lodima when developed in Amidol.

  9. #9
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    Re: 4 x 5 Contact Printing Question

    AZO will have a brighter look, probably not a pictorial look. It's old fashioned and good but not old fashion enough for pictorial.

    Ilford multigrade is great stuff and won't do you wrong. Maybe warmtone glossy or matte. The Art300 paper is great for contact printing SOME SUBJECTS but not as a general purpose paper. The Foma fomatone cream base paper are very warmtone base but not necessarily as warm in the blacks and can be nice for some things but not snow photos.

    If by pictorial you mean to include soft focus, contact printing is the ideal way to go, since pictorialist images are a blend of soft and sharp, and sharp enlarges well but soft does not, so contact printing maintains that blend ratio well. Alt processes do such images well too, like a cyanotype bleached and tea toned or pt/pd.

  10. #10

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    Re: 4 x 5 Contact Printing Question

    If you want a high chloride content paper that responds to every toner you throw at it try Fomatone . Fibre base semi gloss or gloss. It's VC yet acts a bit like the older papers. Foma stopped making Fomalux which was very similar to Azo. Of course the good folks at Adox sell single grade contact paper.

    Fomatone really blew me away, Kodak (gold) Blue toner can be used directly or with sepia or Selenium. I love contact prints. 4x5 is perfect especially if you print on a slightly larger paper like 5x7 to give room to mat.

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