My third foray into the darkroom. I have now solved my issues with water spots and dust on the negatives so now it is time to concentrate on getting the printing correct.
I am using the Analyser Pro to get the initial test prints on Ilford MG Deluxe RC paper (glossy) and now need to work on the basics of dodging and burning the prints and making sure the negatives are actually developed properly so that they print well. One issue related to this that has now arisen is a lack of shadow detail in the prints (see below).
The negatives for this session came from two sources. First 35mm on Ilford HP5 developed at ISO 640 and developed in ‘liquid Diafine’ (i.e. Bellini’s Duo-Step developer). I used to use Diafine a lot, but it is now very hard to get hold of so I thought I would try this. They recommend an ISO of 640 or 800 with HP5. The second set of negatives were 645 medium format Ilford FP4 rated at 250 and developed in Duo-Step as well. They were both done on the same day and are just simple still life images once again.
The printing regime is basically Ilford Multigrade developer, stop and acid fix. I am using the newly acquired Minolta Rokkor f4.5 50mm lens in the LPL 7700 diffuser enlarger for the 35mm and a Minolta Rokkor 75mm for the 645 rill film negatives.
Dodging and burning
Firstly I made a straight print of a pear using the RH Analyser settings. It came out at grade 4 to retain all the shadow and highlights across the range. I thought that the border needed more darkening as some of the detail was getting lost especially at the bottom of the print. This looked even worse while the print was wet. It improved during dry down.
I burned in the edges around the pear for half a stop using the Analyser to determine exposure. I dodged the pear using a circular dodging tool while exposing the print to another half stop of exposure. I think the result looks better.
MG IV vs MG V?
While I was playing around with the Analyser I decided to see whether the settings for the MG Deluxe could be easily transferred to MG IV. I have an old box of MG IV that would be good to use up. By simply changing the paper setting for MG Deluxe to the default Analyser settings (which are calibrated for MG IV paper) theoretically you should get a similar print (albeit with different times and different grades).
This straight print on MG Deluxe was printed at grade 3. This is from the same negatives as the pear above. On MG IV it was grade 3.5 and a longer exposure.
When transferring the settings to MG IV I got a longer exposure time and grade 3.5, but the prints looked almost identical:
At the very least this shows what a powerful tool the Analyser Pro can be when switching between calibrated papers. A test can be made on cheap RC paper and be transferred to another more expensive paper (say a fibre based paper) and the results should look similar.
Finally I tried a print from one of the 645 negatives (FP4 rated at 250 developed in Duo-Step). On the negative scan I can see a little detail in the deep shadows cast by the two pears in the bowl. However, the Analyser settings just rendered this completely black. I am not sure whether the negative has enough detail in the shadows to make it to the print. Another option is to try dodging the shadow area which I will try next time or perhaps reducing the exposure altogether. It could be that the negative is underexposed by rating it at 250 so perhaps the true speed of the film is lower than the datasheet from Bellini. So this really shows the need for developing your own speeds and developing times for films.