Creating Test Strips and Final Prints

This blog post will be about my experience in the darkroom when working with a Digital Negative.

Now that the portrait has been printed onto the translucent paper, we must create a Contact Sheets to determine what is the optimum exposure. When working on creating the negative contact sheets, we were able to work with a safelight instead of being in complete darkness.

Negative Contact Sheet Process:

  1. First you must make sure the enlarger has been switched on, and had enough time to warm before using it.
  2. Secondly make sure to set the height of the enlarger to cover base of the enlarger instead of just covering the glass negative holder, so that the light will evenly hit the entire negative on the sheet.
  3. Thirdly set your aperture accordingly we started at f/3.5 and increased it if we thought it was necessary.
  4. Set the magenta to 100 and increase it if you feel the contact sheet, lacks contrast and looks a little flat. Magenta increases the contrast of the enlargement but that means the exposure time will be different.
  5. Set the timer up for how many seconds, you would like exposure to occur we started with four seconds.
  6. Now that the enlarger is set up, turn of the light in the enlarger. So you can place your negatives and photographic paper: because if the enlarger’s light were still on, it would expose the paper and waste the paper.
  7. Make sure to have something to hand to block the light on the photographic paper, so we can create interval strips to find the best time for the exposure. Make sure that you move the object along evenly so that you can see each exposure interval.
  8. Start exposing the photographic paper at the predetermined intervals (we choose 5 seconds)
  9. Process the photographic paper, in the automatic Darkroom Processor. (If not process the photographic paper, (in the developer (Similar process to Film processing))
  10. Once it has been processed, choose the preferred interval exposure that you think is correct. Then expose the photographic paper to preferred time.
  11. If you change any setting you must re-do the testing strip because the exposure variables are different.

Personal Experience with creating Negative Test Trips:

I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the different processes and steps needed to create pieces of work for this brief. I have found that this went better than processing the film because I was able to see my work environment – as the safe light will not affect the photographic paper. I found it difficult to determine an even exposure for the negative portrait. This was due to the complicated lighting set-up; I could expose most of the portrait well while the face would look blown out. I ended up shooting with a magenta level of 100, 120 and 150. The exposure intervals differed for each strip with a different magenta refers to the images of the scanned contact sheets below.

First Contact Sheets

These were the first two test strips, which were done on two halves of one sheet. However I ended up re-doing the test strips because the first negative ended up being smudged so I had to have it re-printed. These test strips were 5-second intervals, with the enlarger aperture set to f/3.5 and a magenta level of 100.

Second Contact Sheet (Error)

This was a second attempt at a testing strip however I slightly moved the photographic paper while covering up the paper. I re-did this strip because it was hard to determine the optimum exposure. This test strips was 4-second intervals, with the enlarger aperture set to f/3.5 and a magenta level of 120.

Second Contact Contact Sheet (Correct)This was the second test strip, which went better however I realised that the intervals weren’t long enough, so I did a final print but it was not long enough and the contrast was still a little flat. This test strip was 4-second intervals, with the enlarger aperture set to f/3.5 and a magenta level of 120.

Third Contact Sheet (150 Magenta)This is the third and final test strip that I have produced, I realised that I would need to add more magenta and longer intervals. This test strip was 6-second intervals, with the enlarger aperture set to f/3.5 and a magenta level of 150.

Now that we have made the test strips to determine what is the best exposure for my negative, we have to make sure that we set up the enlarger for creating a portrait.

Enlargement Process:

  1. First you must make sure the enlarger has been switched on, and had enough time to warm before using it.
  2. Secondly set your aperture accordingly we started at f/3.5 and increased it if we thought it was necessary.
  3. Thirdly set magenta to 100 (after the many contact test strips I determined 150 was the best for my negative) and increase it if you feel the contact sheet, lack contrast and look a little flat. Magenta increases the contrast of the enlargement but that means the exposure time will be different.
  4. Now make sure that the height covers the paper evenly.
  5. Set the timer up for how many seconds, you would like exposure to occur we started with four seconds.
  6. Now that the enlarger is set up, turn of the light in the enlarger. We can set up the easel to either create a border on the page or to allow the enlargement to be straight.
  7. Now place the negative on top of the paper, and expose the photographic paper.
  8. Process the photographic paper, in the automatic Darkroom Processor. (If not process the photographic paper, (in the developer (Similar process to Film processing))
  9. Once it has been processed, make sure that the final print is perfect or that you need to do another final print.

Personal Experience with creating Enlargement:

This was a very similar process to creating the contact negative sheets, but was slightly less complicated, because we only had to expose the paper to the desired exposure and πmagenta levels. I exposed the paper for 30 seconds and had the magenta level at 150. If I was to re-do the final print I would apply the burning in technique around the face as the lighting was complex and unless further image manipulation is done the photographic paper has limited exposure latitude. While the negative can hold and store more contrast, you need to make sure that you apply photo-manipulation techniques to accommodate this factor. However this can be used to give your images a certain look like Phil Brant (who creates high contrast images).

First Full Print (15 Seconds 100 Magenta)This was the first full print I did; here you can see there is a print error, which meant I had to re-print. This was exposed for 15 seconds, with the enlarger aperture set to f/3.5 and a magenta level of 100.

Second Test Print (20 Seconds 120 Magenta)This was the first second full print I did; here you can see this one has no print error, which meant I had to re-print. This was exposed for 20 seconds, with the enlarger aperture set to f/3.5 and a magenta level of 120.

Second Test Print (25 Seconds 120 Magenta)This was the second full print I did; here you can see this one has no print error, however still looks a little flat and over exposed. This was exposed for 25 seconds, with the enlarger aperture set to f/3.5 and a magenta level of 120.

Final Print (30 Seconds with 150 Magenta)This was the final full print I did; here you can see this one has no print error, which meant I had to re-print. This was exposed for 30 seconds, with the enlarger aperture set to f/3.5 and a magenta level of 150. The face of the portrait is a little blown out; if I was to re-do the final print I would apply the burning in technique around the face as the lighting was complex and unless further image manipulation is done the photographic paper has limited exposure latitude.

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