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Thread: Contact printing 5x7 & 4x5 with specific requirements- HABS + HAER photographer

  1. #1
    schafphoto's Avatar
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    Contact printing 5x7 & 4x5 with specific requirements- HABS + HAER photographer

    Hi all,

    I am a HABS + HAER photographer and recently finished a few large jobs that require more than the normal quantity of contact prints from 4x5 and 5x7 negatives. I'm willing to hire a welder, break out the radial-arm-saw, and contact the glass company in town to cobble together a contact-printing-frame-easel that will let me do many contacts in a row with as little monkeying around as possible. a sort of assembly line approach.

    I've already jimmy'd a oscillating fan to agitate my trays so I can continue printing while the prints agitate... so this shouldn't be too hard, I already have some ideas. I'm sure most of you don't do contact printing in large numbers, but I 'm sure some of you have already noodled this over and have built a better mousetrap, so why should I reinvent the wheel?

    Here's the setup:

    5x7 film needs to be contacted onto 5x7 double weight fiber paper under an enlarger.
    (I occasionally do minor burn/dodge by waving my hand in the light path.)
    I'd like to align the paper and neg perfectly square without touching the glass above the neg or the negative itself or using two hands. I was thinking of getting a 10x12 piece of thick glass (1/4 inch) that would give me the weight I need, and 5x12 inch side of the glass I can grab onto that's outside the 5x7 area over the neg & paper.

    Here's the why:

    Imagine printing 200 contacts from 20 negatives. I don't want to use paper larger than the film because that wastes paper/money, but also HABS guidelines require 4x5 and 5x7 contact prints the exact same size as the film, showing the whole clear rebate edges of the film. (If I were to lay the 5x7 neg on a piece of 8x10 paper like I often do on smaller jobs, I wouldn't need to worry about alignment, I'd just trim off the 4 black borders later, but here that requires 4 cuts x200 sheets.)
    The glossy FB paper has a slight curl, so there has to be heavy glass or a weighted frame (or pressure via a clip, etc. but a clip takes two hands x200 that will slow down the process)

    Any thoughts regarding this invention would be appreciated! I've been lurking this list for years, it's great, finally signed up, thanks in advance for the help.

    -Schaf
    `
    –Stephen Schafer HABS | HAER | HALS & Architectural Photography | Ventura, California | www.HABSPHOTO.com

  2. #2

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    Re: Contact printing 5x7 & 4x5 with specific requirements- HABS + HAER photographer

    I built myself a contact printing box...made out of a rather deep 11x14 plywood box, painted white on the inside, and a hole drilled on one end big enough for the "business" end of a dichroic color head. (I used one designed for medium-format) I then took an opal sheet of glass (11x14) sits on the top open end of the box..and taped it on. I used a light-meter reading the top of the opal glass to determine where to put foamcore baffles inside to even out the light. I then constructed a hinged lid with foam on the inside, and a latch. I put the negative on the opal glass, emulsion up, and I have taped down "L" shaped corner I can run the negative and paper up against, close the door, latch and expose. If there needs some dodge and burn corrections, I put strip or pieces of glassine or other semi-transparent material on the underside of the opal glass. The opal glass is "milky" enough to not show any hard outlines of things on the bottom side. I hope my description was clear. I used to do large quantity of 8x10 color prints and type. I would trim the 810 color negative to about 7x10 and strip a litho negative of type at the bottom with the company name and product description. B/W would be identical except you wouldn't have to color balance.

  3. #3
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: Contact printing 5x7 & 4x5 with specific requirements- HABS + HAER photographer

    Schaf,

    When did HABS start accepting double weight paper? These are the current paper specs on the NPS site and have always been that I now of?
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 68
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

  4. #4
    schafphoto's Avatar
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    Re: Contact printing 5x7 & 4x5 with specific requirements- HABS + HAER photographer

    I was talking with Josh at the HABS office in Washington last month and he said that since single-weight paper was difficult or nearly impossible to get, they have not been returning submittals on double-weight paper. In his view it was better to have the submittal in double-weight than not at all. They are very focused on the "FILM" processing, washing, protection... less so for the prints, which were never meant to have the same 500 year life-expectancy (LE) as the film was.

    So any tricks to getting a lot of contacts done? As I remember single weight paper had a tendency to curl a bit as well.

    -Schaf
    `
    –Stephen Schafer HABS | HAER | HALS & Architectural Photography | Ventura, California | www.HABSPHOTO.com

  5. #5
    schafphoto's Avatar
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    Re: Contact printing 5x7 & 4x5 with specific requirements- HABS + HAER photographer

    Gene, thanks for the description, I think I can see it in my head. If you can post a photo somewhere it would be great too. I think any design will need to have a right angle backstop for the film and paper to slide against in order to be in register.

    -Schaf
    `
    –Stephen Schafer HABS | HAER | HALS & Architectural Photography | Ventura, California | www.HABSPHOTO.com

  6. #6

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    Re: Contact printing 5x7 & 4x5 with specific requirements- HABS + HAER photographer

    Quote Originally Posted by schafphoto View Post
    Gene, thanks for the description, I think I can see it in my head. If you can post a photo somewhere it would be great too. I think any design will need to have a right angle backstop for the film and paper to slide against in order to be in register.

    -Schaf
    Correct. You make one out of matt board and tape it to the opal glass.

  7. #7

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    Re: Contact printing 5x7 & 4x5 with specific requirements- HABS + HAER photographer

    When Alan Ross makes his Ansel Adams Special Edition prints, everything is printed by projection, including 8x10 prints of 8x10 negatives. I guess this is for speed.

    http://www.anseladams.com/content/ca...g_methods.html

  8. #8
    Nicholas O. Lindan
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    Re: Contact printing 5x7 & 4x5 with specific requirements- HABS + HAER photographer

    Try a pre-press graphic arts vacuum frame:

    http://www.douthittcorp.com/dl.htm

    Use a large sheet of paper and place multiple negatives on the sheet and slice into 4x5 sheets after processing. One 16x20 sheet of paper will print 20 negatives. You can make dodging and burning masks that you lay on top of the glass.

    Surplus graphic arts vacuum frames are available for next to nothing used, though most have already been scrapped and prices are going back up. Brands are nuArc, Screen, Douthitt, Amerigraph, Burgess...

  9. #9
    multi format
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    Re: Contact printing 5x7 & 4x5 with specific requirements- HABS + HAER photographer

    schaf

    when i have a job like that, i usually make all the prints from each negative at the same time ( including 2 extras ) ...
    then i back to back them between my fingers and soup all the like prints at the same time.
    tray rockers ( i guess that is what you rigged with your fan ? ) help to make sure they
    all get agitated well ...
    do all the negatives that seem the same lighting &C first, so you can guesstimate your exposures for the prints that follow.

    i hope you have enough room to dry each "run" ...
    THAT is usually the achilles heal

    good luck!

    john

  10. #10
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: Contact printing 5x7 & 4x5 with specific requirements- HABS + HAER photographer

    Quote Originally Posted by William McEwen View Post
    When Alan Ross makes his Ansel Adams Special Edition prints, everything is printed by projection, including 8x10 prints of 8x10 negatives. I guess this is for speed.

    http://www.anseladams.com/content/ca...g_methods.html
    All HABS and HAER work is contact printed only.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 68
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

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