Q2; MAKING PHOTOGRAPHS FROM FILM IN THE DARKROOM
Test Strips must be made for every photo you plan to print, label every test strip with the f-stop and time increments:
We make test strips to save paper (it is expensive!) and to save TIME! Label the f-stop and time increments on all test strips!
To make a test print, set up the enlarger as you would for a print.
Set the aperture of the enlarger lens to about f.8 to f16.
Instead of placing a whole sheet of photographic paper in the masking frame, cut a strip of paper and place this in the masking frame across the middle of the picture, or where there is a good range of light and dark tones. This should be done under safe lighting and with the enlarger off. Set the timer to 5 seconds, and hold a piece of card over the image so that the light is masked off from most of the strip of paper. Expose about one quarter of the strip for 5 seconds. Move the card along allowing light to expose about half of the strip. Expose for a further 5 seconds. Do not allow the photographic paper to move. Repeat this until the entire test strip has been exposed in 5 second intervals, then process the test strip. When making a contact sheet, a test strip can be made by following the same procedure, using a strip of paper in the contact printer instead of a whole sheet.
Assess the test strip and choose the best exposure to gauge the exposure time for your photograph. If the whole strip is too light, open up the lens by one stop and repeat the process, if it is too dark, stop down by one stop (make the aperture smaller) and repeat.
Choose the best time and use the same time and f-stop to make the whole print (no cardboard necessary! )
Advanced NOTE: Contrast can be assessed from a test strip - if it looks murky and grey, use a higher contrast filter; if there is too much light and dark and not enough grey, use a lower grade filter. Changing filters changes exposure, so a new test strip will have to be made. This applies to variable contrast paper, if you are using graded papers, and you want to change contrast level you will need several boxes of paper.
Why use Contrast Filters... Not all film comes out perfect, if you cannot get a full value scale with good contrast on one of the sections of your test strip, first try adjusting the Aperture. If this still proves difficult, you probably need to add a contrast filter.
Contrast filters are necessary for increasing or decreasing the amount of contrast in your print. If your test strips are coming out much too gray, then increasing the number of your filter will increase the contrast, making the whites whiter and the blacks blacker. Everyone has a different preference when it comes to deciding which contrast filter to start with, but I have always found for my purposes that a contrast filter of 3 suits me well when I’m working on a black and white enlarger.
Changing your contrast filter as you do test prints will also affect your exposure times, so don’t expect the same results in exposure when changing from a 3 to a 3 1/2 or a 4.
When making a print, Contrast control is accomplished in one of two ways. The method employed for most of the 20th century is to use printing papers with different contrast characteristics built-in, but you need paper for every degree of contrast you desire. The second method, which we use in class, is the one that has been available for the past thirty-plus years, employs variable contrast (VC) paper and controls contrast with different filters, using the same paper for all print.
Variable Contrast Enlarger Filters…The twelve MULTIGRADE filters are numbered 00–5 in 1/2 steps, with the lowest filter number 00 corresponding to the softest contrast, and 5 being the most contrast. 3-5 increses the contrast, 00-2.5 decreases the contrast.
Multigrade filters are very easy to use: no complicated calculations are needed when changing from one filter to another. The exposure time for filters 00–31/2 is the same; that for filters 4–5 is about double.
Always focus without the filter in place and make a test strip using the filter in place.