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Archive 2012 · Enlargers
  
 
Juan Francisco
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p.1 #1 · Enlargers


Not sure if this is the best section to ask or not, I think this forum needs a film room!

I am wanting to do some home developing and have been looking at enlargers. Hoping for some advice on models to look for, bargains, values, etc.

I like the idea of a smaller table top version, but don't have a great grasp on the weight and size of some of these units. My thought is to set up the darkroom in a back bathroom with just one small window to cover. The bathroom isn't used a lot but I would need to be able to move the equipment in and out.

Durst M600? Price? Performance?

Beseler 23CII? One I found looks like a great deal. It's black, looks mint, $55. Deal?

Omega B66?

Thanks!



Feb 02, 2012 at 11:53 PM
colinm
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p.1 #2 · Enlargers


Based on your options I'm guessing B&W?

In that case, I personally would leap on the Beseler before someone scooped it out from under me. That's a darn good price for a very reliable and easy to service enlarger. It's also light enough that even mounted on a board, it's pretty moveable.



Feb 03, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Juan Francisco
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p.1 #3 · Enlargers


Thanks for the reply!

So you don't think size would be much of a concern? The size aspect has me leaning towards something like a Durst M600 or M301. But I know, the deal on that Beseler is great....




Feb 03, 2012 at 03:29 AM
cgardner
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p.1 #4 · Enlargers


I've got a Besler 23CII with a color head I used with my Mamiya 645 in the next room, in boxes





At one point in the 70s when I lived in a small apartment I kept it in the the closet of my kitchen on a stand with the processing trays on the counter. The base is about 24 x 36 and the arm holding the head is about 4' long.

I could make you a good deal, but all things considered the more practical way to shoot with film today is to scan the negs and do the rest digitally. I have a friend who does that and gets good results using Diafine which is not subject to time / temp variables and results in a neg. density range that fits the scanner range. Scan the negs, edit in Photoshop, and print on an ink jet.

Making a good silver print isn't easy. Scene range affects neg. density range and you must select paper grade or filtration to change paper contrast by trial and error to get the shadows and highlights correct at the same time. If you do decide to go the enlarger route I'd recommend you read and apply Adams' books The Negative and The Print, which is how I learned.



Feb 03, 2012 at 04:07 AM
Mike M. Kraus
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p.1 #5 · Enlargers


+ 1 what ggardner said. Especially the books !


Feb 03, 2012 at 05:44 AM
Juan Francisco
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p.1 #6 · Enlargers


Thanks gardner, I'll definitely take a look at those books.

I know scanning is more practical these days, but I am more interested in doing this for pure hobby and to learn.

That is why I would like to keep it small and cheap, I could definitely see myself moving to 'practical' once I play around with it for a while. I do have to say though, the cost of film development does keep me from shooting my film cameras as much as I'd like. And quality these days is shotty with limited B&W support locally.

I think it will be fun, for a while any ways



Feb 03, 2012 at 06:49 AM
marko1953
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p.1 #7 · Enlargers


Don't forget the enlarger lens is the most important part! The enlarger is just a box with a light in the top ( and a few other things). I have a Durst M605 with a great Nikkor lens.


Feb 03, 2012 at 10:32 AM
cgardner
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p.1 #8 · Enlargers


Good point about the lenes. A good one can cost almost as much as the enlarger. I have Nikor and Schneider in various focal lengths. As with camera you can use different FL enlarging lenses using shorter FL to make bigger prints when the enlarger lens is closer to the paper.

Other accessories needed are:

Contact Frame - for proof sheets

Safelights - to see what you are doing

Lab Timer / Metronome - to control print time precisely

Bottles for chemical storage - Fixed and Stop Bath can be reused, so can developer if stored in air-tight expandable bottles sold at photo supply stores.

Trays & Tongs

There are also environmental factors you should consider. The silver not developed onto the film is dissolved in the fixer and will wind up in your municipal sewer system (or septic tank) and watershed if poured down the drain. It's not an eco-friendly process.

A good intro into learning to making prints without an enlarger is making contact sheets with a light box you can filter with yellow / magenta polycontrast filtration. This was my first ever portrait session done in 1970 with 150W bulbs in shop reflectors held on step ladders with a Kodak "How to Shoot Portraits" book in one hand and the camera in the other







It will take X amount of exposure time to render the clear borders of the neg. black on the print. You need to experiment to find what that "max black" time is for your proof setup for each paper grade filter. I used the yellow/magenta filters in my color head instead of gels.

Once you have your baseline times you always make your proof sheets for those time. That way just by looking at the shadow detail on the proof you'll know if you exposed correctly at capture. Too little camera exposure and the shadow areas on the neg will be clear and print will have no detail (opposite of digital). Too much camera exposure and the shadows on the proof will be gray, telling you'll need to add more exposure than normal when making the final print.

If you get the exposure perfect at capture (a 1 spot meter like the Sekonic L-558 or L-758 makes that easier) and make a proof sheet on #2 grade paper as in the example above you can look at the highlights and tell whether or not the combination of outdoor scene range (or studio lighting ratio) and FILM development time match the range of the #2 paper by how the highlights look.

That's the essence of the zone system technically: fitting scene range to paper range. The scene range is metered from Zone 1 shadow detail to Zone 9 highlight (solid white object in sun). Then knowing the scene range, and what development time is needed for different ranges via testing. For example you might develop a scene taken on a "normal" clear sunny day for 7 min. to fit the #2 paper, but for the same scene on a overcast day the scene range will be 2-3 stops less and you need more film development to fit the full range of scene to paper.

If you can get exposure right at capture, with shadow densities just a bit above film base, the highlights on the proof sheet will tell you is the film development was too much (blown highlights), too little (gray highlights) or as in the proof sheet above just the right time to fit neg density range to paper.

If you start by just photographing on clear sunny days, after processing and proofing few rolls you will be able to tell from your "baseline" #2 proof sheet how to adjust your "normal" scene development time based on how the highlights on the proof sheet work.

When you get to the point you are controlling capture exposure precisely and developing the film for a "normal" clear day scene range consistently your proof sheets for clear sunny days will looks perfect and making prints will be simple: just use #2 filtration. But say you shot clear and overcast days on the same "normal" developed roll. On the proof sheet the clear day scene proof will look perfect, as usual. The overcast day, having a shorter range, will have gray highlights on the proof. Seeing that on the proof tells you a different grade paper will be needed for the final print to fit the shorter range neg to the paper. The yellow / magenta filters in the enlarger will change the contrast of the paper.

Even when you get the enlarger that standardized "baseline" proofing method will save you a huge amount of time and expensive print paper.

See this tutorial of mine on Digital and the Zone System: http://photo.nova.org/ZoneSystem/



Feb 03, 2012 at 01:27 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #9 · Enlargers


cgardner wrote:
If you do decide to go the enlarger route I'd recommend you read and apply Adams' books The Negative and The Print, which is how I learned.

There are more appropriate books for those just starting out in the darkroom.

I'd start by picking up a copy of Kodak's Black and White Darkroom Dataguide. Although it's out of print and lot of it, especially lists of films and papers will be obsolete, it has a good description of the basics of film developing and printing. I still have the copy I bought in 1966.

I also suggest you go to Amazon and search. One book that looks promising is "Black and White Photography: A Basic Manual Third Revised Edition" by Henry Horenstein. It's used as a textbook in many college courses. I don't have a copy, but from the reviews and previews of the book, it looks like a good introductory book.

Adam's "The Negative" and "The Print" are classics and they sit on my bookshelf as well, but especially in this day and age they aren't a good beginning point.

The technics described in "The Negative" are best executed with a view camera where you shoot individual sheets. You can apply some of the techniques to roll film, especially medium format cameras with interchangeable backs, but unless you have three or four 35mm bodies you won't be able to fully exploit the principles. In addition, these techniques work best with old thick emulsion film that is no longer available. I don't know about later editions, but in the copy I have one of his preferred films is Super XX, which was still available when I bought the book. There are other methods to expand or contract a negative's dynamic range, but they aren't covered in my edition.

"The Print" might be more useful for the beginner because it discusses concepts that can even be applied using digital techniques. Photoshop was designed to make sense for someone stepping out of the darkroom and sitting down in front of a computer, needing to apply the same type of corrections digitally.


The 23c will serve you well. You can pick up nice enlarging lenses for a song on ebay. I miss my wet lab. I still have two enlargers and all accessories in storage. Just before Christmas I sold two of my three Leica Focomats. One was a V35, the nicest enlarger I ever used, and the other was a Focomat 1c.



Feb 03, 2012 at 02:29 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #10 · Enlargers


What Adams series is valuable beyond the "nuts and bolts" of the technical variables is introducing the "Zone" vocabulary to describe scene and print ranges because making print match scene as seen by eye or deviating from that "seen by eye" baseline in a pre-visualized manner at capture is the broader goal of the exercise.

Agree that Adams system as taught in the books is not practical for roll film in general, but if as I suggested the OP starts with photographing only clear sunny outdoor scenes using Adams methodology of always using #2 print paper and fitting the negative to it, one development time for all the roll film will work to produce good prints that fit the paper range.

Then from that baseline of being able to consistently produce good looking prints of sunny outdoor scenes with minimal effort it will be easier to understand what happens on other than sunny days: scene range changes, which affects highlight density on neg. and neg will no longer fit the #2 paper used for the "baseline normal" proof sheet.

That's where the OP will deviate from strict adherence to the Adams method and change print paper grades to match the longer / shorter scene ranges rather that altering film development time.

That was my experience. I learned the system per Adams but would need to shoot and entire roll for each different scene range so I could develop the film to the range. I was buying my film in 100ft rolls and loading my own 10-exp. 35mm cassettes so that wasn't that difficult, it was just time consuming to develop three batches of film of 9, 10 and 11 stop scene ranges vs. just one batch.

Adams created his system before spot meters and paper that could have it's range altered with color filters. So by the 70s when most were using roll film as I was it was easier the measure the scene precisely to know if it was 8,9,10, 12 f/stops, take notes, and then in the darkroom based on the appearance of the frames on the proof sheet and notes know what filter would be needed without needing to make test prints. I shot that way for my PJ work in college where I might shoot a football game and indoor head shot on the same roll with different ranges. I developed the film for a 10-stop scene, then if the scene in frame # 5 wasn't 10-stops I already knew that when taking the photo by virtue of spot metering with this...







... and taking notes, and the fact frame #5 wouldn't look perfect in the highlights on the proof sheet. The shadows were always perfect because exposure was based on a very precise spot metered reading in the scene where I wanted Zone 1 detail on the print. Whereas I find spot metering and all hand metering redundant with digital (I use the camera feedback instead) I wouldn't consider shooting B&W or color film without a spot meter. With no feedback you must fly IFR - instrument flight rules if you want consistent, predictable results technically.


The Adams system is a good introduction to how process control should work in any process. Artistic considerations aside for a moment, a photograph is an engineered process with an expected nominal result print will look like what is scene by eye in terms of tone and detail.

In Adams system the "nominal" result was #2 grade print paper exposed for max black in the borders, with highlights were specular reflections (Zone 10) where reproduced by the white base of the print paper and white objects (Zone 9) where reproduced by a light gray tone over the paper base. So if a person was holding a white object in the photo with the glare of a specular highlight seen on it, in the photo the specular highlight would be reproduced on the paper base, with the white print paper darker than real life as Zone 9 on the print, a light off-white gray.

The contrast between the white base specular paper and the very light coating of silver depicting the solid white parts of the paper in the photo is what creates the illusion of 3D shape in a 2D photo and controlling exposure, development of film and print and fitting scene to print is the difference from the resulting capture looking like this....







.... or this...







on the print. Digital allows use to see when results like the first example are occurring and adjust exposure. Then digital PP in allows us to alter the range captured in many ways. Digital is much easier and convenient.


In Adams system the #2 print, produce systematically in terms of how the shadows are exposed to the border = Zone 0 = black void in scene becomes the constant by which all the other variables are judged: exposure at capture, and development of the film to fit the scene range to print range can be evaluated on the proof sheet before ever getting to the enlarger part of the workflow.

Like the pieces of a puzzle the bigger picture isn't clear when they are scattered randomly on the table. But in my previous message I gave the OP a roadmap for putting them together in a practical way tailored to his current lack of enlarger and skill level If he does what I suggest, he should get the bigger picture with very little trial and error. Reading Adams books will give him a deeper understanding of why it works.



Feb 03, 2012 at 02:54 PM
 

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Juan Francisco
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p.1 #11 · Enlargers


Wow, a ton of great information, thanks guys.

It is looking unlikely that I will be able to make the trip this weekend to pick up the Beseler. Bummer, she said she would take $40

But it's a two hour drive and just can't squeeze it in this weekend. I wouldn't have counted the gas money as part of the expense since I would have just made a good day trip out of it (SF).

Who knows, maybe I'll get a hair tomorrow.

I have emails out for both a Durst M301 and M600 right around the corner from me. For the small initial investment one of these will get me started and I can learn from there what might work best for me, or if I even end up enjoying it

I have a lot of reading to do with all the suggestions!



Feb 04, 2012 at 02:32 AM
Allynb
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p.1 #12 · Enlargers


I have used the Beseler#23C III for many years with the variable contrast head. I highly recommend it. With the VC head you can easily control print contrast in relation to the brand of paper use. Just dial in your number and the filters are already there in the head. Couldn't be simpler.


Feb 04, 2012 at 04:14 AM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #13 · Enlargers


While the Zone System might be inconvenient for 35mm roll film, it worked just dandy for any 2-1/4 system with interchangeable backs. I remember running into Henry Gilpin in Tuolumne Meadows around 1978 or so and he had different backs for his Hasselblad marked with which type of development that roll would get. For 35mm, a lot of us carried three or four different bodies for the same reason. But I have to say that I really don't worry about it as much as I did back then. Having a great drum scanner seems to have leveled the Zone System playing field.


Feb 04, 2012 at 05:50 AM
cgardner
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p.1 #14 · Enlargers


Peter Figen wrote:
While the Zone System might be inconvenient for 35mm roll film, it worked just dandy for any 2-1/4 system with interchangeable backs. I remember running into Henry Gilpin in Tuolumne Meadows around 1978 or so and he had different backs for his Hasselblad marked with which type of development that roll would get. For 35mm, a lot of us carried three or four different bodies for the same reason. But I have to say that I really don't worry about it as much as I did back then. Having a great drum scanner seems to have leveled the Zone
...Show more

Adams also used a Hasselblad in later years but that wasn't something most could afford as they were very pricey. I carried two Nikon F bodies back in the day but one was usually loaded with color transparency film.

The tonal range constraint was always the print range not the negative for B&W and color negative films. Scanning eliminated that constrain but introduced a new one, the dynamic range of the sensor technology on the scanner. The first RCA and Hell scanners used analog photo-multiplier tubes. Digital CCDs made desktop scanners possible, but they couldn't match the DR of photo-mulitplier equipped drum scanner. CCD and CMOS ranges have improved in scanners and cameras, but they still can't record detail everywhere in a sunlit outdoor scene, what Adams defined as his "normal" contrast scene baseline.

To find "Normal" development you do a test like this one I did in 1971:





1) Shoot the same subject in direct sun on four sheets or rolls of film, all exposed the same for the Zone 1 shadow detail.

2) Develop each roll for a different time. In that test the times were 6, 6.5, 7, and 7.5 minutes. On B&W film exposed the same is with those 4 rolls the increased development time creates more negative density in the middletones and highlights changing the contrast of the negative.

3) Make "standard" #2 prints - max black on film border. Compare prints highlights. It's difficult to see in the photograph of the prints but as development time increases the shadows stay the same, but the highlights get lighter. With 6 min the neg. was "thin" in the highlights to they get burned too much on the print by the time the shadows are exposed correctly on the print. At 7.5 min. there was so much density in the brightest highlights such as the sunlit building behind her that they lost detail. At 7 min development the neg range fit the print range perfectly.

For the OP: That's the type of test you need to do initially to find the optimal negative development time for the sunny day baseline I suggested above. If you scanning negatives rather than making prints you'd want to do a similar test to find what negative development time / density range matched the DR of the scanner by scanning the four negs. then finding which of the scans had a full range of detail.

Desktop scanners use the same CCD and CMOS sensors as a digital camera so they have the same DR constraints and you will likely find you need/want a "flatter" negative (one with less density in the highlights shorter film developer time) for scanning vs. making silver prints in the enlarger. What has made Diafine developer very popular with those who shoot B&W and then scan is the fact the range of the negatives wind up within the range a scanner can handle automatically because that developer isn't time/temperature sensitive like conventional developers such a Microdol X.

Drum scanners are still round and in use by people like Peter who understand the difference the longer range of the photo-multiplier tube based sensor make. When scanning they can "dig" further into the shadows of a transparency to pull out the detail, much in the same way a "Fill" adjustment to a RAW file in ACR does.

The bigger advantage that comes with digital capture, or film capture then scanning vs. silver print on an enlarger is the ability to manipulate the mid-tones independently, which is HUGE in terms of changing how the image content between Black and White is perceived by the brain.
Full Range Digital Capture Conversion





Same file with Levels middle slider adjustment






The "hard" vs. "soft" impression is a reaction to the overall tonal gradient Black vs White, but also the gradient between those end points and the middle gray zone. What the middle slider does is move the 18% Zone V tone value on the print to different places in the scene content "globally". That is to say if you change the mid-tone on the face, any similar tone in clothing or background will also shift. Sometimes that's a good thing, other times not, depending on the content and message of the photo.

Even using the ZS the best result you can achieve is recording the full tonal range from black to white. The tonal progression in-between is linear due to the linear DlogE response of the film and paper, which is patterned after the logarithmic response of the rods and cones in human visual system.

When making a prints under the enlarger one can selectively dodge and burn to achieve as difference similar the second lighter / softer looking version above, but there is no ability to "globally" shift the midtone values as was done above digitally with simple Levels correction. Adams wound have given his left nut for a "Levels" or "Curves" adjustment knob on his camera or enlarger

Having done all the modern analog processes of capture and reproduction in the past and now doing them much more easily and faster with far better control digitally the only thing I can't do better today than I did in the 70s with B&W and the ZS is reproduce the full range of a "normal" 10 f/stop outdoor scene with a single exposure.

A digital camera appears to cope with relatively flat lighting effectively because few things are in shadows and the shadows are small and usually behind the objects in the photo as in this shot.





But turn the camera 180 in the same light with the same exposure for the highlight detail and you get this result...





It is exactly the same technically in terms of capturing the tonal range of the scene, but perceptually it looks grossly underexposed because the content that is most important and familar, the towel and card, are not exposed "normally". Had I instead exposed by metering the gray card and reproduced it accurately, the limited range of the camera sensor would have blown the sunny highlights by about 2-3 f/stops.

Why does this happen? A "normal" scene like that (in ZS parlance) has a Zone 1 - 9 range of 10 f/stops. My digital camera can only record 7 stops with Zone 1-9 detail. Zones are not f/stops they are tonal definitions on print and scene. All scenes and prints have 11 zones: 0 max black on print/dark void in scene, to 10 white paper base/specular highlights.

Choosing to "peg" exposure to retain detail in the Zone 9 whites of the towel results in the camera recording everything darker that Zone 9 darker than normally perceived by eye when it scans around and adapts to highlight and shadow brightness.







Because there is no way to make my camera sensor longer to fit the 10 f/stop range (as I could with B&W film by reducing development time to match the print range) I must find ways to alter the scene range to fit the sensor. One way to do that is by adding not one, but two flashes to light the foreground...







That's not a perfect solution because flash falls off in intensity much faster than the natural light and the background remains .3 to 3 stops underexposed in Zone 9 - 0 in the shaded background. The solution to that problem is cropping.







The less of the underexposed background that is included in the shot the less the viewer will notice or really care that it is underexposed.

The point of these examples is to show one can achieve as much or more situational awareness with a digital camera with histogram and clipping warning and a full range subject / target as was obtained in the "good old days" hauling a view camera or four 35mm bodies and spot meter around. The most valuable part of the Zone System is the "System" part the systematic breakdown of scene and print in terms of tonal scale and understanding how tones in the scene wind up reproduced on the print or scan of negative.

A basic axiom of process control is: "Control is only as accurate as the ability to measure the process." In that respect I think doing B&W without a 1 spot meter and the ZS approach to knowing the scene range at capture would be a confusing waste of time because until you gain situational awareness of how the range of the same location changes on sunny, partially cloudy, overcast days, or how the direction of the lighting changes the perception of contrast in flat, cross and backlight you won't understand the problem or be able to control it predictably.

B&W has limits, just like digital. But instead of sensor range it is print range. A #2 print paper (filtered or single grade paper) has a range of about 10-stops. That is to say you need to control development to match scene range and wind up with negative with a .3 x 10 = 3.0 density to make a perfect print on #2 paper if using the Adams ZS as he explains it.

With roll film not using the ZS but instead developed always to the same time "normal" time need to produce a good #2 print on a sunny day (i.e. same "normal" baseline as ZS) you will wind up with the optimal 3.0 density range on sunny days, but on overcast days the same scene might produced a 2.7 negative density range. If trying to dig the detail out of a shaded doorway of a sunlit white building you might meter a 12 stop difference between Zone 1 and 9 and wind up with a 3.3 density range. To get full range prints for the 2.7 or 3.3 density range negatives you will need to switch paper grade/contrast via. filtration.

The part of the workflow that will make you a better photographer technically is the spot metering / pre-visualization. That's how you realize there is a problem and understand how to fix it. The problem (too much contrast outdoors) hasn't changed, but the ways to fix it have. That's why I never leave the house without a flash on a bracket and a second one in my shoulder bag and keep the sun over my shoulder when I'm not able to use the flash to change scene range to fit sensor.

Old dogs can learn new tricks.





Feb 04, 2012 at 12:54 PM
marko1953
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p.1 #15 · Enlargers


With the greatest of respect to C Gardner (who has more technical knowledge than I will ever have) and others. The OP is just starting out in BW darkroom photography!. Please don't confuse him with the Zone system just yet. I teach B & W darkroom to year 11 students at high school. I would feel overwhelmed at all this technical advice so early if I was just starting out.
Start by trying to get a good negative by following the standard exposure and then developing times. Move on to getting a reasonable print. I don't even tell the kids about contrast filters until about the 4th or 5th session.
Adjusting exposure and contrast comes mainly by trial and error using test strips. 16 year old kids can get a great print in just a couple of hours with the proper advice.
All that great technical advice above can come later. Just get in and start simple. If you get bogged down with negative density ranges, spot metering and pre-visualization you may never be able to start with a clear head!
good luck!



Feb 05, 2012 at 05:03 AM
Juan Francisco
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p.1 #16 · Enlargers


marko1953 wrote:
With the greatest of respect to C Gardner (who has more technical knowledge than I will ever have) and others. The OP is just starting out in BW darkroom photography!. Please don't confuse him with the Zone system just yet. I teach B & W darkroom to year 11 students at high school. I would feel overwhelmed at all this technical advice so early if I was just starting out.
Start by trying to get a good negative by following the standard exposure and then developing times. Move on to getting a reasonable print. I don't even tell the kids
...Show more

Haha. I actually do appreciate all the technical advice, but for now I have bookmarked the links and will get there in time.

I did end up buying a little Durst M301 locally. It has the Nikkor 50mm F4 on it, and is so small and light weight, I think it will be perfect for me while I learn.

Your comments actually made me chuckle, because like you said, my first step, is just getting a print that looks recognizable as a picture

I am sure it will be baby steps from there to refine my technique. I have to say though, I am excited to get started!



Feb 05, 2012 at 08:27 AM
RDKirk
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p.1 #17 · Enlargers


I'm coming in late, but I totally agree that you should jump on that Besseler 23CII. I never used a Durst, but I used bunches of Omegas of all sizes, and still found ol' Bessy C to be my favorite.

The OP is just starting out in BW darkroom photography!. Please don't confuse him with the Zone system just yet.

The Zone System was invented as a teaching tool. A lot of people prefer to just leap and and splash around rather than actually learning from the beginning to stroke and breath, but resisting learning how exposure and development work at the beginning just means putting it off until later. The Zone System is like verb conjugation--you don't really know how the language works until you learn it.



Feb 05, 2012 at 02:47 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #18 · Enlargers


marko1953 wrote:
I teach B & W darkroom to year 11 students at high school. I would feel overwhelmed at all this technical advice so early if I was just starting out.


I taught technical reproduction photography to adults at a college for five years and managed people for over 30. That and other experience, such as exposure to the Meyer-Briggs temperament indicator and how temperament affects learning and embracing new ideas caused me to develop a two-prong approach to teaching: 1) Start by defining a broader goal that is obtainable and strategies which are know to work to achieve it, then; 2) create a experimental "learning curve" framework to implement those strategies by identifying and controlling the variables affecting outcome.

Some people have more intuition than others an that makes them assimilate new concepts very quickly because they "connect the dots" with the framework of what they already know. Those are the 11 year-olds in the back row of your class daydreaming because they've already read 3-4 chapters ahead in the textbook or the entire thing and gotten the bigger picture goal of the exercise. For intuitive types trial and error and trivial exercises are seen as a waste of time.

Then there are others who will sit in the front of the class and furiously try to transcribe the lecture verbatim who then go home and can't make heads nor tails of the notes. Often it's not that they don't have the intellectual horsepower to process the information but there sensate temperament requires them to line up the duck of new information in a row and get them quacking in unison before they connect the ducks and see what in the flock is happening: the bigger picture of the exercise.

In B&W photography the goal is learning to fit the range of the negative to the range of the paper. Doing that requires an understanding that three variables affect achieving that goal: 1) scene contrast, 2) negative development time, 3) paper contrast (grade).

Explain the goals of the exercise and variables like that to an intuitive and they will connect the dots between them and understand the results they have been getting. Less intuitive types will not see how they relate until they do exercises like what I suggest to the OP:

1) Eliminate the scene range variable by initially only shooting on clear sunny days.
2) Find the development time needed to make a full range print on #2 paper on a sunny day.
3) On other than sunny days change the paper grade it fit the "sunny day" developed negative to the print range.

In other words, use a sunny day scene contrast as the "normal" baseline to match development of neg to #2 paper filtration. The from that known baseline change paper grade as necessary to match other scene contrast. The "sunny day" development time becomes the constant, with the scene range and paper grade the ying/yang variables.

You might try that goal oriented approach on your 11-year olds. They might surprise you.





Feb 05, 2012 at 05:53 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #19 · Enlargers


What was the question? Oh yes, which of the enlargers mentioned would be a suitable choice for Juan. It looks like he picked up the Durst.

That leads to some other questions. Juan, why are you interested in using an enlarger to make your own prints? What kind of photographs do you take?

If you haven't developed film and made prints before, let's crawl before you walk. Let's also keep things in perspective. Extensive knowledge of the Zone System is not necessary to make wonderful, properly exposed, developed and correctly printed photographs. Millions of stunning images were created before there was what we call the Zone System and hundreds of exceptional photographers have made stunning, iconic images since with little or no knowledge.

From a practical standpoint, when I was using a large format camera and taking images using the Zone System, the huge majority of my film holders would come back from the field marked normal exposure, normal development. If you're doing general photography, there will be very few photos where you cannot correct using normal methods to get the correct exposure and contrast. Yes, it is necessary to understand what a correctly exposed and developed negative looks like, but there are far simpler ways to achieve this than the Zone System.

The irony is that I graduated from the very school where Fred Archer and Ansel Adams codified the Zone System. The first half of the college major was split roughly between gaining technical knowledge and working on aesthetics. It was only in our third semester did we start to delve into the technical principles of the Zone System and started to apply it in the darkroom. In other words, theres a time and place for such things. Day one is not that time. Learn the fundamentals and have fun first.



Feb 05, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #20 · Enlargers


Doug, as always, has great advice. As has been evidenced in this thread, it's way to easy to get overwhelming and lose sight of the original goal.

The best thing for Juan right now it to get some chemicals set up and make some prints and then come back with more questions about how to make those prints more to his liking.

The hardest thing a beginner printer has to do is resist pulling the print from the developer before it's fully developed. You see it coming up too fast and dark and pull it, but then all you have is a print full of grays. Leaving a fiber based print in for at least two minutes and an RC based print for at least a minute and a half with constant agitation is key.

I went to the same school as Doug did, but I had spent years making black and white prints before going there and had made thousands of really great prints - all without ever formally using the Zone System. And I lived in Monterey and say Ansel around town on occasion. It's really more important to concentrate on your basic exposure and then most (not all) will sort of fall into place, and what I used back then was an old LunaPro with a 7.5 degree spot attachment. I would take a reflective reading off an area that I wanted to be approximately middle gray in the final print - and that was that. Today, I'm lucky if I even remember to bring my meter when I'm shooting black and white.

I did make use of yellow, orange, green and, of course, a 25A red filter over the lens with appropriate exposure compensation. I'd say that it would be a rare image that was shot without a filter, and that anyone serious about shooting black and white film should have at least those four available.

I was location scouting in the Pasadena area yesterday and driving up Santa Anita Blvd toward Chantry Flats, there were several photographers, including one young person with an OmegaView 4x5 shooting a portrait. "Ah", I said to myself, "there's an Art Center student". Some things never change.



Feb 05, 2012 at 11:51 PM
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