I have just completed my first contact printing attempt. All I can say, it was a wonderful experience, and frankly, not as difficult as I imagined.
With 35mm or medium format film, contact prints never really interested me. But with large format, I soon got intrigued in trying it. After some careful reading in various sites and forums, I started buying the equipment necessary.
– Paterson safe light (red)
– 18 watt light bulb
– four cat litter trays (actually, I have ordered normal trays, but couldn’t wait till they come!)
– Ilford Multigrade developer, Ilford Ilfostop (I already had the fixer, its the same for films)
– a cheap 20×30 glass from an old frame
– 3 tongues
– Ilford RC Deluxe paper
So, here are my first two contact prints
The first one is 8×10″ size, while the second is a 4×5″.
Now, there is really a large difference between what you see of the screen (a scanned JPEG) and the real print. A really but difference, in favor of the contact print of course.
By trial and error (testing strips on the paper), I ended up with one second exposure with the lamp being about 80cm above the negative. A very short time, so I will possibly try a less powerful bulb to be and to get more control over the exposure time.
The times I used:
1 minute in the developer, 10 seconds stop,and 30 seconds fixer. Temperature was about 20C.
Two observations. The print really take their time to stay flat after they have dried. I put them in a heavy encyclopedia for three days to flatten them. Second and most important. The condition of the negatives has to be perfect. No scratches, stains, dust. They will all be evident on the paper, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Its a fully analog process !
The 4×5 print was a real joy to look at. I used 5×7″ paper, so that I can have a thick dark frame around it, which (in my opinion) looks very nice.
Now, the 8×10″ print is a blast to look at ! Even from a pinhole negative, the large size contact is really amazing. I can only imagine how a 8×10 negative from a view camera with a lens would like !!
More contact prints coming soon.
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