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B/w Paper For Wet Darkroom Printing

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  • B/w Paper For Wet Darkroom Printing

    my friend rented a wet darkroom from and ended up dozens of 16 x 20 and 8 x 10 enlargement from kodak technical pan and tmax. wonderful work but the contrast seems a bit low.

    he used a lot of ilford multigrade RC. toronto image works has nice b/w printing + dev machine. no need to hand dev/wash.

    since the machine is fully automatic (must use their chemicals), i guess the only way to increase the desired contrast is exposure time and burn/dodge using hand.

    what kinda paper is recommended? i don't quite like the RC based paper. the texture is like those color paper. does anyone have experience with fiber based paper? it's generally more expensive than RC but still not too expensive for me to buy in box of 25/50 sheets.

    what about those ilford multigrade pearl? it's a lot more expensive than regular fiberl. is it worth? and those warm tone/cold tone based are a lot lot more expensive. so many kinds of papers to choose from...a bit confusing...

    btw, why is it called "multigrade" ? as far as i know, the higher the grade, the higher the contrast gonna be. does that mean we can "adjust" the contrast of the paper as we like? this sounds silly...

  • #2
    Nice to know that you are finally into printing your own B&W prints. There is always a learning curve to overcome when you move to print traditional prints. Assuming you have a good understanding of the chemistry, the next is the choice of papers.

    For beginners, usually you start off using Multigrade RC papers. I started off using 3R papers (cheaper for experimenting).

    Papers usually come in different types for different purposes.

    1. Fibre based or Resin coated - FB good archival properties if handled properly. The development, fixing and washing time is very much longer than RC papers. FB papers also curls when you dry it. RC papers are more convenient in terms of developing, fixing, washing and drying. For beginners, this is the prefered choice.

    2. Single grade or multigrade - papers come in either single grade or multigrade. For beginners, multigrade is easier to handle because you only need to stock 1 type of paper.

    3. Weight - papers also come in single.double of other weights. This refers to the thickness of the paper. Most large papers come in doublw weight.

    4. Surface - Papers also come in different surfaces, glossy, pearl, satin, matt or other surface types....for large enlargements, I usually use pearl, satin or matt.

    5. Tonal range - Papers also come in different tones, normal and warm tones for different applications.

    6. Speed - Papers come in different development speed. For eg Kodak AZO - slow speed excellent for contact prints.

    What you have described is a problem of contrast....experiment with different grade settings for the same negative and find what is the best grade to print. Generally if the negative is low in contrast...use higher grade, high in contrast use lower grade. The contrast adjustments can be done using the Ilford B&W filter kit or dialling the M and Y dials if you have a color head.
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    • #3
      thanks maxby. points noted. still need more research before moving on.


      • #4
        finally made 10 pieces of darkroom printing on 11 x 14 ilford multigrade RC pearl. result looks good. have learned how to control the exposure time, applied adjustable red filter to increase the contrast, judge the negative density, focus for sharpness and etc...

        one word...FUN!

        these are some of them...


        • #5
          Good work :thumbsup:
          Maxby has a facebook too

          PhotoSafari - each experience is a different