Contact printing paper/ chem. will any combinations work? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Here's the question. Will any combination of paper and chemicals work for contact printing? Can or would you use MC papers, VC papers, or do these only work with enlargers. Should I stick with papers like Crane? Since I'm just starting out at this, would it be advisable to use RC paper, till I get a little experience under my belt? I'm planning on tray development of fp 4+ and contact printing under glass. I have read everything I can get my hands on about chemicals, but still the nagging question is will Agfa nuetol + or Edwal ultra black work for this process? It seems everyone is using Azo and Amidol, but for a beginner this seems an expensive way to go when you know I'm going to need practice, practice, practice. Apreciate your imput, and thanks. Forgive my ignorance, I just don't want to lay cash out for chemicals and paper and find out I can't use them. jules

-- Jules Hancock (, December 14, 2000


Hey Jules, or is it Julie? I can't remember, sorry!

Basically, yes, you can contact print with enlarging paper or contact printing paper or you can "roll your own" by using albumen, VanDyke Brown, Cyanotype or "the prince of papers" Platinum/Palladium.

Go here:

for some info on "Printing Out Paper" and Albumen. The folks at Photographers Formulary have all manner of coating kits for the alternative processes as do Chicago Albumen Works, Bostick & Sullivan, etc. Go to the commercial links page to connect.

For now though, I would suggest a quality VC fiber based paper and a standard developer - the liquid ones are easier to mix. I use Azo and Dektol and am going to switch to one of the Photographer's Formulary Amidol equivalents for now, although Agfa Neutol has been suggested.

-- Sean yates (, December 14, 2000.

I'd suggest just using standard graded or VC paper and standard developer until you get some experience, especially if you burn and dodge. Don't get all caught up in obscure, hard-to-obtain stuff until you've had some practice.

-- John Hicks (, December 14, 2000.

Jules - I'm developing 12x20 FP4+ negs in trays (D-76 1:1) and printing them under glass. And I'm printing on both Ilford MG (RC) and on their Warmtone fiber-based papers - "regular" papers, both of them - just like when I enlarge. And I develope them in good 'ol Dektol. It works great and I'm very happy with the results. You can use whatever paper you prefer. I use an enlarger as a light source for convenience - I can use VC filters to effect contrast changes and it's easy to control print times.

-- Mark Parsons (, December 14, 2000.

My combo for 8x10" negs, usually from T-Max 100: Azo in Agfa Neutol WA 1:11, 2 minutes; finish in Kodak Rapid Selenium toner, 1:15, 3 minutes after using a non-hardening fixer. 3' in RST at that dilution is enough to extend the blacks without much of a color change. Go 4' for a nice purple-brown tone, if you like that.

Some people find Azo/Dektol too blue or blue-green, but Selenium toning brings it back to neutral.

Azo isn't that expensive compared to other papers. You can order it from B&H or Freestyle for around $65/hundred sheets 8x10".

-- David Goldfarb (, December 14, 2000.

Just to clarify a bit: If you are planning on using an enlarger as your light source for contact printing you will be better off with a normal enlarging speed paper. If you are using sunlight or an incandescent source (read, light bulb) which is much brighter than enlarger light, then slower speed contact printing papers like Azo or Bergger will be easier to deal with. Regards, ;^D)

-- Doremus Scudder (, December 15, 2000.

I would have to say that I agree with most everyone. Learning the basic concepts of printmaking utilizing regular ol' enlarging paper with an off-the-shelf developer is simplest, most cost effective (read cheapest and often most gratifying way to get off the ground. Although I really like playing with POPs, I still do the vast majority of my printing with Agfa Multicontrast Classic FB and Dektol. Fifty bucks goes a long way with silver gelatin materials.

-- Chad Jarvis (, December 15, 2000.

My vote goes to contact printing on Azo. There really is nothing like it. Printing becomes almost too easy. (provided your negs have the right contrast range).I develop in Agfa nuetol W and give a short bath is selenium. Azo costs about the same as enlarging paper and I like the print color I get with the Agfa. Check out Micheal A. Smith and Paula Chamlee's web page for more info on printing with Azo paper I use a 120 watt flood bulb with an electronic metronone to time exposures. Exposure times are around 10 secs. I also recommend developing negs in pyro by inspection. Good luck.

-- Bill Bartels (, December 15, 2000.

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