From digital to traditional?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by Rob Landry, Nov 4, 2004.

  1. Rob Landry

    Rob Landry Guest

    Well, I'm standing on the brink of setting up a traditional darkroom
    and need a little gentle persuasion. My days of working in the digital
    darkroom may soon be at an end.

    For a little background, I shoot 35mm E6 and 4x5 in E6 and B&W. I do
    my own film processing (Jobo CPP-2) but for the last few years, have
    been printing using digital techniques. While I do enjoy the control I
    am able to get when making prints, the computer is the beast that is
    provoking this urge to switch. I desire to get away from the tyranny
    of Microsoft and the endless parade of upgrades, patches, downloads,
    crashes, drivers, formatting, backups, service packs, and virus scans.
    It seems that for every hour spent making a print, at least twice that
    is spent maintaining the hardware and software. Between the Epson and
    it's clogs and Windows and its bugs, I'm beginning to think I'm am IT
    specialist and not a photographer. My most recent episode involved the
    purchase of a nice Minolta Dimage Scan Elite 5400. Very nice upgrade
    to my aging scanner, but my "old" PC does not have firewire or USB 2.0
    ports. No problem I thought to myself, "I'll just purchase a USB board
    and all will be well." Of course, nothing is that simple in PC land.
    Suffice it to say that after 15 hours of mucking around, no scanner;
    the Minolta remains comfortably in its box. 15 hours and not one new
    print!

    So, now that I've gotten that off my chest, I need to know the ins and
    outs of printing color (from trannys) under an enlarger. B&W I'm
    familiar with, but color has me a little concerned. With Ilford's
    troubles, what will become of Ilfochrome? I don't want to invest the
    time to master that medium only to find out it will be extinct.
    Barring that, how do the chemicals store? What about paper? Can paper
    be refrigerated or frozen? How hard is it to get the colors correct
    with Ilfo? I know that contrast masking is pretty much a given for
    Ilfochrome, but is it possible to do with 35mm? What do I need to
    consider and would others who print color in the darkroom advise such
    a switch?

    Thanks,
    Rob
     
    Rob Landry, Nov 4, 2004
    #1
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  2. Rob: why stop now? do what I did - go to plain old chemical B&W - it's
    simple, requires a minimum investment in equiement and materials and will
    take me at least one lifetime to come close to understanding (not even going
    to use the term "mastery").

    I have spent 40 years in a digital world, and I will only do digital
    photography when I can no longer find film, paper and chemicals.
     
    Pieter Litchfield, Nov 4, 2004
    #2
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  3. Think Macintosh "Like in Apple" None of those issues.

    I hate that description for Transparencies, conjures all sort of
    "negative" sexual thoughts :)
    Well buy all the Ilfochrome you can if thats what you intend.
    If your doing Ilfochrome from 35mm you probably want make enlarged
    dupes so you can mask, Your better off using a bigger enlarger as well because
    Ilfochrome is painfully slow and a little 35mm enlarger will make
    the exposures for larger prints very long.

    You can refrigerate any color paper (Its a good idea)
     
    Gregory W Blank, Nov 4, 2004
    #3
  4. Hmmm, I don't spend 15 minutes a week on maintaining our 4 computers at
    home. Windows can be set to update itself automatically, of course, and
    there's usually not more than an update a month anyhow.

    I maintain a lab at work (with technicians' help, all closely supervised by
    me) with over 50 PCs, and crashes are extremely rare.

    Whenever people tell me they find Windows incredibly buggy and crash-prone,
    I have to ask the following tough question: Is your *hardware* unreliable?
    Even a perfect OS wouldn't run perfectly on buggy hardware.

    I'm afraid Windows is getting the blame for a certain number of motherboard,
    memory, and power supply problems. People always say "Windows crashed"
    rather than "my hardware crashed." In reality, you can't tell... except
    that if Windows XP or 2003 bluescreens, it's almost certainly hardware.
     
    Michael A. Covington, Nov 4, 2004
    #4
  5. Rob Landry

    otzi Guest


    Doesn't this just sum it all up.:) Thanks for the tidy summery. With your
    permission I will use this quote (paraphrased) to state the case for common
    sense when ever the urge of modern madness overcomes those mortals swept up
    with the urge to partake in the latest 'thing' just for the sake of being
    'with it' what ever that means. I wonder how many ever realise that
    marketing is not so much to forward our collective state rather to benefit
    the originator of said marketing often at our expense.
     
    otzi, Nov 4, 2004
    #5
  6. (Rob Landry) wrote in message
    Transparencies are not designed for printing. If you want prints, take
    negative film too.
     
    Uranium Committee, Nov 4, 2004
    #6
  7. Using conventional printing techniques thats quite good advice!
    & The method I have been following.
     
    Gregory W Blank, Nov 4, 2004
    #7
  8. Stick at digital.
    Much simpler and more control

    I printed darkroom stuff, mostly B&W but also some colour for about 20
    years.
    Colour is really tedious to get right and you more or less cannot control
    contrast, which is no problem digitally.

    My advice.

    If you DO want to do darkroom stuff, stick at B&W
     
    Gearóid Ó Laoi/Garry Lee, Nov 4, 2004
    #8

  9. That's funny:

    It seems that for every hour spent making a print, at least twice that
    is spent mixing solutions, setting up temperature baths, pouring liquids,
    dusting negatives, making test strips, washing trays, tanks, tongs and
    reels, washing, drying, making contact sheets, filing, mopping the floor,
    wiping down counters ....

    Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.
     
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Nov 4, 2004
    #9
  10. Today's modern madness is tomorrow's safe, sane and sensible ...
     
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Nov 4, 2004
    #10
  11. Rob Landry

    Phil Glaser Guest

    I'm so glad to hear that it's not just me. I spend all day in front of
    a computer for my day job, and so the idea of having a computer and
    its foibles in the way of my creative endeavors is frightful. That
    being said, I did recently do a whole bunch of digital shooting with a
    cheapo digicam. It was for a class where the teacher wanted me to just
    shoot tons and tons of photos. So I did that and it was indeed helpful
    to see the results immediately and the like. And then I went to make a
    print and things turned out to be not so easy. Yes, we have issues
    with controls in the darkroom -- voltage fluctuations that affect
    print exposure for example -- but I had no idea how many
    unidentifiable goblins can affect the tone of a print generated by an
    inkjet printer. More power to you!

    --Phil
     
    Phil Glaser, Nov 4, 2004
    #11
  12. Rob Landry

    John Bartley Guest

    A bit of encouragement from a complete newbie/amateur ::

    I have no trouble with computers. I have a big fast machine in the
    office, two laptops floating around the house, two scanners, printers,
    cable and wireless networks, DSL, a dedicated office/computer room etc -
    the whole flippin' shebang!! I love them!!

    but..............

    I have been repairing antique radios for 33 of my 46 years, but that
    doesn't stop me from having a rack full of solid state stereo stuff in
    the computer room so that I can convert analog to digital and play it in
    my trucks. A lot of my CDs are OTR (old time radio). They're great to
    listen to.

    and...............

    I have had film cameras since I was a kid, but had never done my own
    developing. As recently as this past June, I discovered monorail
    cameras. I had never heard of such a thing, and thought that only
    chemists and mad scientists could do their own developing. Boy was I
    wrong! I also have a digital camera and I love it too. It's kinda' hard
    and sorta' expensive to sell antique radios on eBay by making a negative
    for each picture that you're going to post, so for each job there's a tool.

    Why do "traditional" or "antique" or "old fashoined"? Strictly for fun,
    education, adventure, life experience, horizon widening, curiosity, you
    pick one or more, and have at it. There's no reason to bail out of the
    other completely. Just do both, and have fun!

    cheers

    --
    regards from ::

    John Bartley
    43 Norway Spruce Street
    Stittsville, Ontario
    Canada, K2S1P5

    ( If you slow down it takes longer
    - does that apply to life also?)
     
    John Bartley, Nov 4, 2004
    #12
  13. Color is only tedious if you:

    a) Don't have a color dichroic lamphouse.
    b) Don't have a roller transport processor.
    c) Don't have patience or are some what color blind.
    d) Have sloppy exposing habits that require contrast control.

    And I've been doing color printing for twenty years in my own Darkroom.
    Bottom line with adequate equipment it is cheaper in terms of time versus
    inkjeting say 100 copies, and less money than having them printed by a lab.

    I agree though digital scanning and output does afford one controls not
    existant in wet darkroom work, like retouching therefore I use it as well for
    what its worth. The goal should be make images that don't need retouching.
     
    Gregory W Blank, Nov 5, 2004
    #13
  14. No comments on that ...
    The last news I had was they'll keep the high quality paper (polyester base) and drop the cheaper RC
    ones.
    But until their problems aren't gone, everything, the worst included, can happen.
    It's not Ilfochrome, it's printing from a slide that you'll learn and this will still be useful with
    other positive material whatever it they are.
    P-30
    This is the amateur version and is sold in a 2x1-liter pack. One liter is used pretty quickly (13
    prints 8x10", 5 prints 12x16"), you shouldn't have to keep them for long.
    The kit unopened is said to last 3 years. Diluted in full bottles, 2 months and partially filled
    bottles, 1 month.
    Once used, chemicals are mixed together and dumped, their formulation is intended to neutralize each
    other.
    A partial reuse (some used + some new) of the chemicals is possible, this may give a light loss of
    quality but nearly doubles the capacity of them. The included leaflet indicates the quantities per
    sheet.

    P-3
    More intended for professional use and is sold in larger quantities but you can mix just what you
    need.
    They are all liquids except a component of the developer which is a powder in a very small quantity
    to difficult to split.
    I tried to dissolve it alone in water but it doesn't. I don't know what this powder may be (the MSDS
    wasn't that clear for me) but if someone knows in what I can dissolve it to split easily the
    quantities, I would be grateful ...
    P-3 gives a slightly higher contrast than the P-30.
    If you do a lot of printing, this is the way to go as it is *much* less expensive than the P-30.
    NEVER MIX THE USED CHEMICALS TOGETHER BEFORE DUMPING: I did it once and the mix produces so much
    sulfur dioxyde to be nearly asphyxiated ... You should neutralize the chemicals separately, dilute
    them with lots of water before dumping them.
    Read the notice carefully.

    P-3X
    Intended for replenishment, I've no experience with it.

    I usually print color only when I have enough slides to use completely the chemicals.
    Pretty easy in my opinion. Simpler than negative as, if your print is to yellow, just remove yellow
    or add blue (magenta+cyan).
    With negative material, if your print is to yellow, you have to *add* yellow ...
    Despite all we often read, silver masks are *not* that compulsory with slides printing.
    Before this extreme you can do traditional dodging/burning during the exposure like in B/W.
    Coupled with a medium-contrast paper (CLM-1K), 80-90% of my slides are printed very successfully
    this way.

    Silver masks are more required with high-contrast paper (CPS-1K). This is the preferred paper for
    the "Masters", together with the silver mask(s) they can acheive a very high local contrast while
    keeping a normal global contrast.
    Don't start with this at the beginning, practise Ilfochrome some months before trying more complex
    techniques.

    By the way, silver masks are possible with 35mm (it is used also in B/W), mainly contrast reduction
    unsharp masks which are the easiest to do.
    Registering is the most difficult task. There are not so many registering tools for 35mm, I manage
    to register them by eye but this is not obvious at all.
    Do a Google search with keywords like "unsharp masking".
    I started a page on the topic on my website but it's still under construction and in ... french.
    Anyway, there are some pictures of the tools I use:
    http://www.bonavolta.ch/hobby/fr/photo/mask.htm

    Other links:
    http://www.bonavolta.ch/hobby/fr/photo/masking101.htm
    http://www.maskingkits.com
    Why not, it's pretty easy to acheive a good quality. Becoming a master requires much more time.
    Well, nothing different from B/W, anyway ...
    Some more comments:

    Ilfochrome is a pretty slow surface as it incorporates all the dyes in the emulsion and the process
    will remove the "excess" of them.
    As a starting point try an exposure 3 stops longer than a B/W Ilford Multigrade paper (without
    filters).

    Despite what many believe, positive papers are very low contrast because the original, the slide, is
    very contrasty.
    This has many advantages:
    - exposure variations are *much* less sensitive. With negative papers (B/W or color) an exposure
    difference of 1/10th of a stop is already visible. With positive paper, half stop is not a lot at
    all, you'll pretty often have to change the exposure by a full stop or more.
    Working in stops is a good habit, especially when dodging/burning.
    - same comment with filtration, especially at the beginning, change it by 10CC, not less

    Doing a contact print of the slides is not silly, especially if your print from different films
    types. This print is already a good start to help you to adjust exposure/filtration without wasting
    to much time and material.
    Kodak sells a Filter Viewing Kit that helps also for the filtration.
    Often with the same film type and same light conditions, filtering is similar to identical.

    Ilfochrome, like all other materials, is also sensitive to reciprocity failure. For color material,
    this means color shifts too, so, we play more with the diaphragm to keep exposures in a reasonable
    range.

    The ultra-glossy surface of the polyester base papers is *very* fragile, cotton gloves are advised
    when manipulating them.
    In the dark you can see (well, hear ...) which side is the emulsion by passing your finger nail on
    it, if it does make some noise (a kind of "sssss"), then it's the back.

    Processors:
    - rotary models (Jobo, etc ...) are easy, use the minimal quantity of chemicals, are versatile when
    you change paper size, can also develop films, but are pretty slow.
    - slot models (Nova, etc ...) are faster but limited to a size of paper, going to a larger size
    requires a new processor.
    - table-top processors (Fujimoto, Ilford, Durst Printo, ...) are really nice: a friend borrowed me
    an Ilford ICP42/IWD42, you get the print in 15' dry-to-dry without any manual intervention ... I
    managed to do 10 prints 12x16" (30x40cm) in a single evening.
    Some do replenishment
    Price is pretty high (but you may find someone doing the opposite travel than you, i.e. going
    digital) and they require a fairly large amount of space.

    Of course, an enlarger with a dichroïc color head is strongly advised.

    I certainly have missed some points you'll discover by your own :)

    Best regards,
    Claudio Bonavolta
    http://www.bonavolta.ch
     
    Claudio Bonavolta, Nov 6, 2004
    #14
  15. Rob Landry

    Frank Pittel Guest

    How do you explain machines that crash regularly when running windows can run
    linux of bsd on the same hardware??


    : Hmmm, I don't spend 15 minutes a week on maintaining our 4 computers at
    : home. Windows can be set to update itself automatically, of course, and
    : there's usually not more than an update a month anyhow.

    : I maintain a lab at work (with technicians' help, all closely supervised by
    : me) with over 50 PCs, and crashes are extremely rare.

    : Whenever people tell me they find Windows incredibly buggy and crash-prone,
    : I have to ask the following tough question: Is your *hardware* unreliable?
    : Even a perfect OS wouldn't run perfectly on buggy hardware.

    : I'm afraid Windows is getting the blame for a certain number of motherboard,
    : memory, and power supply problems. People always say "Windows crashed"
    : rather than "my hardware crashed." In reality, you can't tell... except
    : that if Windows XP or 2003 bluescreens, it's almost certainly hardware.



    --




    Keep working millions on welfare depend on you
     
    Frank Pittel, Nov 8, 2004
    #15
  16. Rob Landry

    Tom Phillips Guest

    I always made color prints from transparencies. Though it's
    getting a bit harder now that Kodak has unceremoniously
    discontinued it's internegative film. But if you can find a
    lab that does internegs (I think Fuji still makes it) a
    contact interneg makes a beautiful RA4 prints IMO. In fact,
    I've sold mural sized prints from contact internegs and
    historically always preferred that over straight color negative
    film.

    Ah, nostalgia...
     
    Tom Phillips, Nov 8, 2004
    #16
  17. Rob Landry

    Tom Phillips Guest

    Garry Lee's advice is worthless and shows he doesn't know
    anything about photography. _Color_ printing is easier than
    B&W. Anyone can do color. I can show a ten year old how to
    make good RA4 prints in less than an hour and they won't
    need digital retouching...

    Alas, greg, you're talking to a crowd that doesn't know the meaning
    of making a good photograph without retouching...
     
    Tom Phillips, Nov 8, 2004
    #17
  18. I don't know if I could teach someone to have my skill at printing
    in 1/2 hour....but I could probably given them a good start.

    Given the current state of C41 processing, I am highly tempted to start
    doing it myself as well. Including proofing my own wedding work, las week in reviewing
    a a wedding I had out sourced for proofing I found a punctured 220 negative....
    I am highly PO'D

    Hey back to E6 what development time do you use for Fuji versus Kodak.
    I got Fuji's tech data and it states 6 minutes for First Dev. Kodak is like 6:30
    and or & minutes,....tetenal says add 16 more time (I am soooo confused)
     
    Gregory W Blank, Nov 8, 2004
    #18
  19. Should have read:

    Hey back to E6 what development time do you use for Fuji versus Kodak.
    I got Fuji's tech data and it states 6 minutes for First Dev. Kodak is like 6:30
    and or 7 minutes,....tetenal says add 16% more time (I am soooo confused)

    Thanks.
     
    Gregory W Blank, Nov 8, 2004
    #19
  20. Rob Landry

    Anoni Moose Guest

    Some OS's are harder on hardware than others, depending upon what
    they are using. Particularly in terms of drivers written by
    hw manufacturers. But that said, "Windows" and "Windows" aren't the
    same. Windows XP is *really* *dramatically* better in terms of
    stability as compared to Windows 9x or Windows ME. Completely
    different OS's. Of course if flaky hw drivers are installed,
    flaky results may happen (why they at least try to certify
    drivers).

    Mike


    P.S. - Windows 9x variety need to be rebooted regularly with
    certainty. Windows XP on my backup fileserver probably
    has been running continuously since my last hardware upgrade
    of it a year or two ago.
     
    Anoni Moose, Nov 9, 2004
    #20
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