negative emulsion-side up on the printing glass and
composition is obtained. When you must make more
than one print from the same negative, tape the negative
(at the corners only) to the printing glass. If the negative
moved into the printing position, the air does not escape.
This results in an unsharp print. When you use a
hand-cut mask, tape the mask to the glass along one edge
before positioning the negative.
to determine the contrast (flat, normal, or contrasty) and
the approximate exposure time required to produce a
quality print. As a beginning darkroom worker, you may
not be able to make these determinations accurately;
however, in a short time and with a little experience, you
should overcome any trouble.
with density. When in doubt, make test prints. If the test
print is contrasty, you should make another test print
with a lower numbered filter to lower the contrast. If the
original test print lacks contrast, change to a filter with
a higher number to increase the contrast. This is a good
time to review the information on printing filters and
printing papers in chapters 2 and 3.
technician. Unlike most films that can tolerate some
overexposure and underexposure and still yield usable
photographs, printing papers must be exposed correctly
to produce good prints.
prints from most negatives is best determined by making
printer and by printing with the same type of paper. The
only remaining variable is negative density. You can
determine negative density by making a few test
exposures. The exposure time for a negative of average
density may be about 1 to 3 seconds. When the negative
is large, avoid the expensive and wasteful temptation of
using a whole sheet of paper; instead, use a strip about
2 inches wide and as long as the negative for the test
exposure. For example, an 8x10 sheet of paper can be
cut into three or four small strips.
paper test strip over the negative in the printing position.
Place the test strip on the negative so the test exposure
includes some highlights, midtones, and shadow areas.
platen. As soon as the platen grips the edge of the paper,
move your hand away. When the platen is fully lowered,
turn on the printing lights for the test-exposure time.
exposure was too long. If the image is too light, the
exposure was too short.
that has been under or overexposed. Before attempting
to judge the contrast of a print, you must change the
exposure until the proper density is reached. A normally
exposed print develops gradually, but steadily-shadows
should appear in about 30 seconds, providing the
the image develops very quickly with a general mottling,
it is overexposed and the next test should be given less
exposure. An overexposed print develops in a very short
time, and the common temptation is to "pull" (remove)
it from the developer. This prevents the image from
getting too dark, but results in a flat, muddy, uneven,
tone image. On the other hand, when the recommended
development does not produce a print of the proper
density after 2 minutes, the print is underexposed. After
you have successfully exposed and processed a few
prints, you will rapidly gain enough experience to
estimate, closely, the density of negatives for contact
Basic Photography Course