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I'm new to darkroom printing, why does this print from 4x5 have faded, light corners?
Old 09-25-2016   #1
horsemilk
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I'm new to darkroom printing, why does this print from 4x5 have faded, light corners?



See the comparison between the print and the negative scan. This print was made from a 4x5 neg, the print is 20x24" on a DeVere with an Ilford multigrade head, 105mm lens, the largest diffuser inserted. Exposure was 30 seconds F/11, contrast 1.5.

The print has noticeably faded edges, especially the corners. In the same session I made some other 20x24" prints from a smaller 6x4.5 neg that didn't suffer this issue. Is this some sort of coverage problem?

Also if anyone could provide some tips to get similar toning to my negative scan (without laborious dodging and burning) that would be really appreciated!
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Old 09-25-2016   #2
rulnacco
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The reason the corners are lighter is because somehow they got less exposure. Now, I'm not an absolute expert on these matters, and so someone else may indeed know a *lot* more about it than I do and will chime in--but I do have fairly extensive experience printing, up to and including 4x5.

I think the most likely cause by far is the lens. 105 is not the standard focal length for 4x5--it's more suited to 6x7cm. Normally, when printing 4x5 you want to have at a minimum a 150mm lens. So, I think your instinct that the lens is not giving you sufficient coverage for the whole area of the negative is correct. (Especially since your 6x4.5 negatives came out fine--a 105mm lens has plenty enough coverage for that format, for which an 80mm lens would be the "standard" focal length.)

Another possible problem is making sure that you have the light source set at the correct distance from the negative. I'm not familiar with DeVere enlargers--I've always used Beselers--but especially if you're using a condenser head, it has to be adjusted to the proper height from the negative to ensure full coverage of the light source on the negative. If you're using a diffusion head, it's probably not so important, however.

As to your final concern--to get the most out of a negative, generally you're *always* going to need some dodging and burning. It really just can't be avoided, unless you produce that mythical *perfect* negative (but even if you do everything exactly right when exposing and developing it, just because of the way photosensitive materials work, it's not going to anticipate what you *want* the final image to look like and so parts of the image may--and probably will--still need some work).

If you're committed to using large format--which is really a brilliant, and very fun way to shoot (if you've got the patience and discipline for it), and still provides the ultimate in quality especially in terms of amazing tonality and resolution--then I would suggest that you get Ansel Adam's authoritative three-volume set titled The Camera, The Negative and The Print. If you use his techniques and master pre-visualization, you can come much closer to getting the negative that will provide (with a bit of work still in the printing stage) the image that you are striving toward--you can change your exposure, your developing technique, the grade/filtration of the paper you're printing on, etc., to get the kind of contrast and tonal range that you're seeking. Adams' pioneering and thoroughly systematic work on the subject will allow you take control of these factors.

But you're still gonna have to dodge and burn, most of the time!
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Old 09-25-2016   #3
sevo
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I agree, that lens will not have the needed coverage - wide angle process/enlarger lenses were 135mm for 4x5", regular ones 150mm, old ones even 6.5" (165mm).
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Old 09-25-2016   #4
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You may have to adjust condensor and bulb.
This is a tricky business.

You have to adjust the bolb in the correct distance from the condensor. (Then, you will still have sligtly less darker corners, but also the camera lens lets some less light reach the corners, thus the negatives are slightly thinner there, and the effect is compensated.)

Many people use too large enlargers, is order to avoid the corners. If you have a not perfectly adjusted 5x7 enlarger, 4x4 will be ok.
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Old 09-25-2016   #5
mike rosenlof
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one more that you 105mm lens does not cover the 4x5 neg adequately. If you run out of coverage with your taking lens, you get underexposed corners (thin on the negative). In the darkroom you have run out of coverage on your enlarging lens. Also underexposed corners. 135-150mm is the "normal" for enlarging 4x5.
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Old 09-25-2016   #6
sevo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jschrader View Post
You may have to adjust condensor and bulb.
According to the full text of the post, he is using a Multigrade head (diffuser type, these can't be adjusted) with a 6x9cm lens to print 4x5"...
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Old 09-25-2016   #7
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Agree that the lens isn't designed to cover 4x5. A 135mm is generally the shortest lens other than wide angle enlarging lenses that will adequately cover 4x5. A 150mm is even better but a good 135 will do.
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Old 09-25-2016   #8
Dwig
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There are possibly two problems:
  1. The enlarger lens doesn't have adequate coverage. Generally a 135mm is the shortest that will work well and 150 is preferable.
  2. If the enlarger is a condenser enlarger the the condensers need to be adjusted for the lens' focal length and print size. When most enlargers are adjusted for a 105mm lens the condenser system will not illuminate a whole 4x5 areas evenly.
Without question, #1 is part of the problem. #2 may well be involved as well.
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Old 09-25-2016   #9
horsemilk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dwig View Post
There are possibly two problems:
  1. The enlarger lens doesn't have adequate coverage. Generally a 135mm is the shortest that will work well and 150 is preferable.
  2. If the enlarger is a condenser enlarger the the condensers need to be adjusted for the lens' focal length and print size. When most enlargers are adjusted for a 105mm lens the condenser system will not illuminate a whole 4x5 areas evenly.
Without question, #1 is part of the problem. #2 may well be involved as well.
Ok guys, got it, thanks for all the replies. I actually already have a 150mm enlarging lens but it's a 42mm thread where the enlarger board takes 39mm lenses. I've ordered an adaptor ring, hopefully that will work and solve the problem, I'll try again next week.

Aside from that, does anyone have suggestions on how to get the toning closer to my scan?
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Old 09-25-2016   #10
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I use an Ilford MG head too and there are no condensers in that system so that's not an issue. Your head is a diffusion head.

Proper grade selection to Match the contrast range of your neg is important as well as dodging and burning as needed. I've printed since the 50's and have seen very few negatives / prints that couldn't be improved by dodging and or burning in.

To become a fine printer takes many years and printing g thousands of prints.
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Old 09-26-2016   #11
horsemilk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by x-ray View Post
To become a fine printer takes many years and printing g thousands of prints.
I'm not expecting to become a fine printer overnight, just wondered if someone might have some advice for how to achieve what I want with this image.
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Old 09-26-2016   #12
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If you can't wait for the correct lens board so you can use your 150, burn the corners in. Use your hand or a black cardboard cutout on a wire to hold the center back and give extra exposure for the corners and edges. Keep it moving so the edges of where you burn are blended with the rest of the image.
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Old 09-26-2016   #13
sepiareverb
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I'd suggest less contrast in the enlarger - your print has deeper shadows on the face than the scan - and then burning in the corners as X-ray has suggested. With the multi grade head burning in at a somewhat higher contrast will help get that deep black sooner.
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Old 09-26-2016   #14
horsemilk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sepiareverb View Post
I'd suggest less contrast in the enlarger - your print has deeper shadows on the face than the scan - and then burning in the corners as X-ray has suggested. With the multi grade head burning in at a somewhat higher contrast will help get that deep black sooner.
Thanks, I'll wait till I can use the 150mm lens to take care of the coverage problem... so I guess I'll try setting the contrast to 0 or 0.5 and a slightly longer exposure to get the blacks black, while hopefully retaining some of the shadow detail around the face.
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Old 09-26-2016   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by horsemilk View Post
Thanks, I'll wait till I can use the 150mm lens to take care of the coverage problem... so I guess I'll try setting the contrast to 0 or 0.5 and a slightly longer exposure to get the blacks black, while hopefully retaining some of the shadow detail around the face.
0 or .5? Is your negative extremely contrasty? Most negs will print around a #2 if properly developed.

Do a series of small prints from 0 up to 4 so you can see the effects of each grade. I'm not sure you understand how paper grades relate to negative contras. Since you're new at this you probably can't judge negative contrast yet. Just use grades 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 not half grades. Do a test strip to determine proper exposure with each grade the make a 5x7 for each whole grade. Mark the back of each print with the grade number. Use pencil and Mark it before processing.

Don't pull your print early from the developer. Beginners often do this but don't be tempted. It needs to develope fully. Standardize on a time. I use 3 minutes for fiber base paper In LPD. Dektol will be the same. RC paper I'd go 2 minutes to make sure it goes to completion.

Don't try to judge exposure and contrast from a wet prints print contrast changes some and especially density gets darker in most papers as it dries. If it's fiber base paper you can rinse it and dry it in your microwave on low power. RC paper use a hair dryer.
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Old 09-26-2016   #16
horsemilk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by x-ray View Post
0 or .5? Is your negative extremely contrasty?
Yes, it was underexposed and is 'thin'. The lighting situation was quite contrasty also. My first print is with contrast set to 1.5
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Old 09-26-2016   #17
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A thin negative usually prints best on higher grades like 3 or 4 or even 5.
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Old 09-26-2016   #18
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105 lens is the answer. Longer focal lengths cover bigger negs.

150 for large prints from 4x5 135 for small. 135 usually will work for small is because there is lots of extension making it "longer."


135 really for 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 negs

105 for 6x9

90 for 6x7

80 for 6x6

50 for 35 mm

A longer one can always be used, but you see what happens if you go short.
The problem with longer is the head has to be too high. Optically there is no problem.
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Old 09-27-2016   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by x-ray View Post
...

Do a series of small prints from 0 up to 4 so you can see the effects of each grade. I'm not sure you understand how paper grades relate to negative contras. Since you're new at this you probably can't judge negative contrast yet. Just use grades 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 not half grades. Do a test strip to determine proper exposure with each grade the make a 5x7 for each whole grade. Mark the back of each print with the grade number. Use pencil and Mark it before processing.

Don't pull your print early from the developer. Beginners often do this but don't be tempted. It needs to develope fully. Standardize on a time. I use 3 minutes for fiber base paper In LPD. Dektol will be the same. RC paper I'd go 2 minutes to make sure it goes to completion.

Don't try to judge exposure and contrast from a wet prints print contrast changes some and especially density gets darker in most papers as it dries. If it's fiber base paper you can rinse it and dry it in your microwave on low power. RC paper use a hair dryer.

This is exactly what I would suggest as well.

I'll add that in this instance you should only judge the face when choosing the correct contrast grade, the black of the background and deeper shadows can easily be set to where it needs to be with some burning or dodging.
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Old 09-27-2016   #20
rulnacco
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For an excellent guide to advanced printing techniques, may I recommend Larry Bartlett & Jon Tarrant's book on the subject? Some truly excellent tips there, especially at the price of a second-hand version of the book.
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