Before any of my negatives see the enlargers negative carrier they all get contact printed, for me this is the first indication of how they may print when enlarged and for some the only time they become a positive. It also serves as a reference.
The contact prints for the Adox and Rollei show under development, to what extent will only become clear when the test strips are produced. The Fomapan 100 and the FP4+ show as well toned. In the case of Ilfords FP4+ it may be over developed.
Once more I step into the the red world of the darkroom and the smell of chemicals. Only there are none! The developer, stop and fix need to be mixed a fresh. This is due to a problem with the fix turning the slot of the Nova processor black. Still not completely sure why!
I set the light boxes height on the enlarger so it will generate a print 9”x 12” in size. This means the the 6x6 negatives are going to be brutally cropped; maybe that should be less dramatic and say 'creatively cropped' to fit a landscape format but also serves to increase the magnification.
I have set the enlarging lens to F8. All the negatives will be exposed at this setting, it allows a comparison to be made as to how over or under developed they maybe with each other. In the past when F8 is set I find that it gives me a time in the region of 30+ seconds exposure time. Which for me is about average.
I have set grade two and a half to start with, if this proves to be to hard I'll drop it to two. The paper being used is silverproof matt limited grade paper. Being limited does not mean it has not got a full range of tones. It also provides a certain look to the prints that I like.
The first negatives to be exposed are the Fomapan 100. Looking down the focus finder the film has a regular fine grain making it quite easy to get it pin sharp. The test strips for these negatives are indicating an exposure of twenty one seconds. The picture of the woods (Fg1) was to hard for the 2.5 grade I set, so reduced it to 2 for the second exposure. Figure 2 the shadow of the tree reflected in the puddle. Printed straight, was a little flat, so I printed it a second time at grade 2 but burnt in (added exposure) to the areas around the puddle to lift the puddle area.
The next negatives to be exposed were from the Adox film. Looking down the focus finder to sharpen these negatives brought a smile as it looked like someone had gone mad and splattered the grain on by flicking a brush. This may have been the result of under development. The test strips were also saying that the negatives were thin, suggesting an exposure of ten seconds, half that of the Fomapan. The two negatives from the Adox film are the complete opposites to each other. The fence post picture (Fg 3) had no detail I could see in the shadow when held up to the light. So when it was being exposed I dodged the shadow area for a couple of second to stop it blacking right out. Once it had dried I was surprised to see lots of detail. The two tree picture (Fg 4) was always going to be a landscape crop as there was to much foreground in the negative. It also looked the best picture negative wise.
The Rollei 400s was up next I had trouble picking two negatives that I could see enough of to print. These negatives were thinner than the Adox with some of the frames not showing at all. When looking through the focus finder at the grain it revealed it to be patchy and shows up on the prints as white blotches. Lack of proper development is evident maybe?. The picture of the rain on the window (Fg5) was a difficult print to get right. Keeping the detail, what there is of it, of the door handle and leaf on the left. It was down to six seconds of exposure. The cat (Fg6) picture was the same six seconds but shows up the blotchy grain more. If I had shut the enlarging lens down to F11 or F16 I would have had more time to manipulate how the pictures looked by dodging and burning.
The last negatives to be worked on were the FP4+. Looking down the focus
displayed a fine regular pattern I have come to expect from this film when
developed in ID11. I had been looking forward to printing them but was thrown
when the test strip revealed that a thirty second exposure was no where near
enough. A further two tests revealed a time in the region of fifty seconds. You
could say they were the best developed or over developed depending how you look
at things. I printed an number of negatives from this film. I was really taken
by the smooth tones of the pictures and the intensity of the sky. It was a
bright, warm cloud less day. The prints show what a great morning it was at the
bridge. Figure seven showing the
superstructure of the bridge gives a good indication as how good the sky was
and Figure eight gives a good idea of how strong the sun was. Both pictures
were printed at grade two but could quite easily have taken a softer grade.
I am disappointed that the Rollei 400 was not developed correctly, I know it can produce some very smooth well toned negatives which would have lead to some great prints. As for Adox film, I am coming to the conclusion that we do not mix as this is the second time it has failed to present a good set of neg's. The Fomapan 100 classic was a surprise, if you are looking for a substitute for FP4+ then you will not go far wrong with this emulsion in my opinion. I have noticed that it is slightly more grainy than the FP4+ if you have to burn in the high lights heavily. I use both these films regularly now in rotation as their characteristics are almost identical.
Links to others from series in case you missed them.