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jackbaty
11-03-2009, 09:56
I have what feels like a dumb question, but here goes...

I usually cut my negatives (35mm) into 6-frame strips and file them in PrintFile sleeves. I've recently set up a darkroom and would like to begin making contact sheets. A roll of 36 frames cut into 6-frame strips is too wide for using 8x10 paper for contact sheets.

In the future, which sleeves should I be using in order to best create contact sheets? I see they make them with 7 strips of 5, but according to my rudimentary math skills, that's only 35 frames, which I've never completely understood.

Or don't folks print contact sheets from sleeves? Bigger paper? Fewer frames?

Gumby
11-03-2009, 10:07
The ones that I find contact print the best are PrintFile Archival Preservers. I think you can find them at www.printfile.com (http://www.printfile.com)

David William White
11-03-2009, 10:12
Well, there's usually one bugger at the beginning or end of the roll.

I proof before I sleeve, fwiw, preferring emulsion to emulsion contact, so I've not any advice to give you.

dfoo
11-03-2009, 10:23
I bought cheap chinese 12x10 grade 2 paper for contact prints. It was about $18 a box for 50 sheets. Works great!

palec
11-03-2009, 10:29
I use 12x9.5 RC photopaper, I usually have more than 36 frames per roll.

MartinP
11-03-2009, 10:33
I make contacts in strips of six, laid directly on an 8x10" piece of paper, then under a bit of polycarbonate glazing (replacing the piece of glass that got smashed, oops).

Doesn't the unsharpness, due to the thickness of the sleeve, really mess up being able to judge the details of the picture under a magnifier ? Otherwise a bigger bit of paper would do the trick. I think the Paterson (non-sleeved) contact-printers use 12x9 1/2" don't they ?

Trius
11-03-2009, 10:57
I've always removed the negs from the sleeves to make the contacts. I could stock a different size paper for contacts, but I always want my contacts to be on the same paper emulsion as the final prints, if at all posssible.

dfoo
11-03-2009, 11:17
Why can't you look at the prints through a loupe? I proof through a sleeve always, and the contact prints look fine.

Carlsen Highway
11-03-2009, 11:21
They cannot be as sharp than if they were layed directly on the papaer - there is the thickness of the plastic and distortion.

No sleeves here either - directly onto the paper. I only recently met someone who was contact printing with his negs inside sleeves and I was tres suprised. Why?
Just did 18 contact sheets last night.

jackbaty
11-03-2009, 11:45
Well at least the answer wasn't obvious :)

I think I'd prefer keeping them in the 6-up sleeves. That probably means removing them for proofing and overlapping each strip slightly per the earlier example. My darkroom skills are so basic that I doubt the sharpness difference between a sleeve vs no sleeve proof would be an issue. Learning though!

Thanks all.

dfoo
11-03-2009, 11:50
Needless to say removing the negatives from the sleeves, placing them on the paper, arranging in a nice grid and so forth is pretty time consuming compared with placing the sleeve on a piece of paper. If the exposure is wrong, or I want to burn or dodge some of the negatives, then I'd have to do the same process all over again.

The negatives in the sleeves may not be as sharp as they would be if they were out of the sleeves, but mine look sharp enough for my purposes... namely, evaluating the exposure, cataloging my negatives, and deciding what I will print and the approximate crop (if any). I don't need pin point absolute sharpness. They are not so unsharp as to make evaluation difficult.

Gumby
11-03-2009, 13:46
Although it is indisputable that emulsion-to-emulsion is the best way to contact print, proofing is just proofing. I generally look at the negs through a loupe to determine sharpness if I have any question about it... not the proof.

rickp
11-03-2009, 14:15
nostalgia? back when negative sleeves weren't as clear as today, i used a harvey brenson (u.k.) printing frame to make a contact sheet, then filed that with the negative sleeve in a folder. the negative strips are held in diagonally cut grooves in the Plexiglas cover, so everything stayed flat and aligned.

greetings from hamburg

rick

dfoo
11-03-2009, 14:28
If I had a printing frame like that I'd use it :)

Trius
11-03-2009, 15:37
dfoo: You burn or dodge a PROOF? No offense, but wrong.

A proof is to see what the density and tonal range are, in addition to the composition. It gives you base information that guides you to the requirements for a final print. If you manipulate a prrof, you soon become lost. For 35mm judging sharpness in a contact is fruitless.

And a proof is not "just a proof". My practice has been to make every effort to have better proofs than most people's final prints. This meant calibrating everything -- exposure, film developing, proof exposure, paper developing -- so that viewing a proof of a shot I liked not only informed me about the final print, but inspired me to actually make the print.

The more I cared about my proofs, the better my prints were.

jackbaty
11-03-2009, 16:00
At this stage in my, er development, a "Proof" is nothing more than evidence that I've done something :). I'm tickled just to have something recognizable come out of the chemicals.

I just tried the no-sleeve approach using just some glass and an 8x10 piece of paper. With the negative curl I get, it was very fidgety getting things on the paper in any useful way. An actual printing frame would help with that?

Sorry, but I'm terribly new at this and still working through the broad strokes.

Trius
11-03-2009, 16:31
re: curl -- what film? Yes, a frame with sprung glass might help.

Al Kaplan
11-03-2009, 16:37
Get your local window glass shop to cut you a 9x12 piece of 1/4" glass, rounding the corners and edges. The weight of the 1/4" glass will hold everything flat. I usually "dodge and burn in" when I'm making contacts so that all the images are of similar density.

I'm still using Savage glassines for my strips of six negatives. Not archival? I've got lots of negatives nearing fifty years of age that print just fine. I put five strips on a contact sheet.

dfoo
11-03-2009, 17:29
dfoo: You burn or dodge a PROOF? No offense, but wrong.
...

Thats your way, but it doesn't make my way wrong. Clearly I use my contact sheets for a different purpose than you.

BTW, to satisfy my curiosity I made some contacts from bare negatives tonight. They are sharper, and show the negative range more clearly. That being said, I don't think I'll change my working methods in this respect :)

Trius
11-03-2009, 18:28
dfoo: One step at a time; you are on your way. :D

Al: ^^^

Trius
11-04-2009, 18:57
As much as who it's for, I regard the key question as what it's for.

David William White
11-04-2009, 20:13
I'm ambivalent about whether to proof in sleeves or not, I just do it before I sleeve because that is the process I follow: it seems natural that they should be proofed before they are sleeved. And my sleeves don't contact print well. If you've got good sleeves and can weigh them down, they'd certainly be easier to handle, especially the curly Efke films, etc.

However, like Trius and Gumby, I'll have to put my foot down on dodging & burning contacts. That defeats the purpose of 'proofing'. That word means something, and as I've said before, it's not just making 'thumbnails' for filing or whatnot. When done in a standard manner (minimum time for maximum black) as described by Fred Picker and others, you get immediate feedback on both your exposure and your development. And then beyond that, it gives you an indication of time & filtration when you need to print. That valuable information would be lost if you were to dodge and burn the proof. You'd loose the 'proof'.

Consider that contact sheets are supposed to be made at the same aperture, height, & time for your standard films. No test strips, no second-go-at-it, just one fast, simple standard exposure, with immediate results in your tray, then negatives into their sleeves. Fiddling around with selective exposures on a contact sheet to make them 'pretty' not only destroys valuable information you will need later, it also seems to me it would eat up a lot of valuable time.

I appeal to those that have blown a whole week printing half a roll of film, starting all over again on each negative with time & filtration determination. The time taken to do a proper proof (about 3 minutes) will pay back enormously when it comes to getting the prints out the door.

dfoo
11-05-2009, 04:05
Don't get me wrong. I generally do a standardized process. 8 seconds with Tri-X for example, gives me a good contact sheet. Delta 400 is 12.6 seconds, and so on. The main issue is some of my rolls have been quite underexposed (ie: shooting ISO 800 or similar) and so therefore provide very very dark contacts at 8 seconds, and so therefore practically they need to be exposed at 4 seconds. I also note that on the contact sheet which makes it easier to determine base exposure when printing.

Gumby
11-05-2009, 07:17
As much as who it's for, I regard the key question as what it's for.

Indeed. Good point. Inferring one from the other might not always result in the correct answer!

Trius
11-05-2009, 09:40
Yeah, proof and contact sheets/prints are different, but the terms are often used interchangeably.

And yes, if a whole roll has been underexposed, a "standard" contact sheet can be close to useless.

David William White
11-05-2009, 10:51
The way I look at it, you 'proof' the camera work (the 'shoot') with a contact sheet. That's what tells you you've underexposed or underdeveloped, base fog levels & whether you need to tweak your process. Hardly useless. You need that artifact smacking you in the forehead when you get around to printing.

I'm not sure about the rest of you, but I wouldn't show anything other than final prints to a client. Great way to kill a deal, in my experience. Maybe to editors or printers, who are used to seeing 'works in progress'.

What I'm attempting to communicate is that a properly made contact sheet is a valuable tool for improving the quality of exposure and the quality of development, a lesson that I think has been increasingly overlooked. It's especially useful when one switches to an unfamiliar film or unfamiliar developer and needs to find the 'sweet spot'.

Al Kaplan
11-05-2009, 12:34
It was always standard to do a shoot and deliver contact sheets to the art director or editor when you shot B&W. With color you'd shoot 'chromes (slides). Everybody had a loupe handy, or they'd use the lens off of their camera as a loupe. "Proofs" were what you showed wedding and portrait customers.

Trius
11-05-2009, 17:38
See, a contact sheet was regularly called a proof sheet in my neck of the woods when the medium was roll film, or with 4x5 exposures ganged on an 8x10 contact print. I get the sense that there may be regional differences in terminology.

In any event, the original question was about contact sheets, and I'll be damned if I'm going to go back and read this entire thread to discover where the term "proof" was introduced!

Al Kaplan
11-05-2009, 18:02
Another thing that some of us would do on occasion, if time and budget allowed, was make enlarged "contact" sheets.You'd get your local glass place to cut 2 pieces of glass to about 5x12 inches, and round the edges and corners. This would fit in the Omega D-2 in place of the negative carrier. You could stick 3 strips of six between them, projecting first the 9 frames at one end onto 8x10 (or larger) paper, then the 9 frames at the other end. On 8x10 paper the images would be about 2x3 inches.

Some commercial labs had 8x10 enlargers and offered 16x20 "contacts" of the entire roll. In either case the resultant prints were referred to as "enlarged contacts".

Al Kaplan
11-06-2009, 06:39
Those of us who were doing short deadline work for newspapers got to the point where we could eyeball the negative and/or the image on the easel, make a single test strip of an important part of the image, then make the finished print including dodging and burning on the first sheet of paper. It might not be the best possible exhibition quality but it had shadow and highlight detail and reproduced just fine.

For 8x10 paper my timer is "locked" a ten seconds. I give additional needed overall exposure with the on-off switch when I'm doing my burning in, and if I need a second or two less overall I put my hand beneath the lens before doing selective dodging. It's really just a variation of the "sunny 16 rule" when +-exposing film.

Gumby
11-06-2009, 07:14
Another thing that some of us would do on occasion, if time and budget allowed, was make enlarged "contact" sheets. (snip) Some commercial labs had 8x10 enlargers and offered 16x20 "contacts" of the entire roll. In either case the resultant prints were referred to as "enlarged contacts".

On occasion I once found these useful... for showing to clients (and thought they might be useful to an AD but I have never had one of them as a client). ;)

The terminology, however, has always perplexed me.

Al Kaplan
11-06-2009, 09:05
What we need to do here wherever possible is hook up some "new" film photographers with some nearby old dogs that still remember their old tricks. Maybe even swap a bit of expertise, teaching the old dogs advanced keyboard and mouse techniques at the same time. I'm game if you live in the North Miami-Dade County, South Broward County area of South Florida.

Who else is game?

rlouzan
11-06-2009, 11:05
Al,

Brings back those good old memories:D of when we had to chain those 4x Schneiders to the light tables:eek:.

Regards,
RLouzan


It was always standard to do a shoot and deliver contact sheets to the art director or editor wWen you shot B&W. With color you'd shoot 'chromes (slides). Everybody had a loupe handy, or they'd use the lens off of their camera as a loupe. "Proofs" were what you showed wedding and portrait customers.

Gumby
11-06-2009, 11:37
Brings back those good old memories:D of when we had to chain those 4x Schneiders to the light tables:eek:.


I think about 4X Schneiders with the same question as when I think about paper clips: Where do they all go?

rlouzan
11-06-2009, 11:51
Ed,

Ha! ha! ha! must be the interchangeable translucent and opaque skirts:).

Best,
RLouzan


I think about 4X Schneiders with the same question as when I think about paper clips: Where do they all go?

Al Kaplan
11-06-2009, 12:02
Sounds like a plan for the co-eds that hang out at Starbucks ~ interchangeable translucent and opaque skirts.

Gumby
11-06-2009, 12:04
You need to cut back on the caffeine, amigo; your mind is racing out of control and may have crash landed in the gutter. :)

Al Kaplan
11-06-2009, 12:08
My mind lives in the gutter.

David William White
11-06-2009, 20:49
Yes. And in the end, I'm sure we'd all rather be hanging out with Al, chasing girls.

Al Kaplan
11-07-2009, 03:46
At this stage of the game I ain't chasing anybody. "Girls" nowadays means females under the age of sixty.