AZO Printing : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I got out some AZO yesterday that I have been wanting to use with some 8x10 contacts. I tried to expose the paper with illumination from my enlarger and could not get sufficient exposure even with long times. When I turned on the room lights for 4-5 seconds, I got what I needed. A bit on the blue side, but Amidol will cure that problem. How do you dodge and burn (if necessary) given the unique nature of how to expose this paper? It is so slow, that dodging and burning are not as required as with other papers.

Thanks in advance.

-- Michael Kadillak (, August 13, 2001



I am no expert, but I have been down the same road. AZO is slower than enlarging paper, so you would do best with a light source that is brighter than your enlarger. I have used (with good results) a cheap aluminum reflector with a 100 watt bulb about 3 feet above the negative and paper. (At Home Depot such a reflector costs about $3.) I had trouble at first finding the appropriate wattage and height, but you can figure this out with a bit of experimenting.

As for dodging, you probably want to get your exposure times to be long enough (30 seconds?) so that you can do work carefully. Adjust the height or wattage.

For some reason, I think that dodging and burning a contact print is easier than an enlarged projected print. This may be because you can lay whatever you are using to dodge right on the glass and not have to worry about making the right size shadow puppet.

Take a look at the "Darkroom: Printing" archived threads. There are some good contact printing discussions here.

Have fun, Paul

-- Paul G. (, August 13, 2001.

I use an old contact printer...not the frame, but a bona-fide contact printer (with multiple bulbs, masking frame and hinged lid) for Azo. Way back when contact prints were in, this was the way to do it. I have used old Arkay printers that had 20+ bulbs, although mine only has 9. The lamps are in an array so that you can switch them on & off individually. So, if you want to "dodge" the foreground, you turn off those bulbs...and so on. There are about 2 or 3 levels of diffusion glass, so you can lay in tissue & masks in between the bulbs & the glass, to hold back areas as well. You can also use tissue paper or wax paper and cut out masks (and tape, or use a tacking iron to hold them to the masking frame). You can get an amazing amount of control this way. My exposures on Azo are around 5 sec. or so, and I run a voltage stabilizer on the unit as well. I use it mostly for duping negs though (same speed as Azo). Contact printers are still made, but they're very expensive beasts (big too) used in long roll commercial printing. I bought mine, an old Burke & James, from a used camera store several years was hiding under a table covered in dust. Few people seem to know how useful these things can be.....they're dirt cheap now. BTW, the old Oriental Portrait paper was a great paper on a contact orinter as well. It was a graded warm tone fiber paper, that wasn't as slow as Azo, but still really slow under an enlarger. Any kind of enlarging paper is a real bad choice for a contact printer...if you're looking for books on the technique, just about any photo book from the 20's-50's should have info about using these printers.

-- DK Thompson (, August 13, 2001.

Azo is much slower, and exposures using a regular enlarger lens will be impossibly long. However, using an enlarger, if you happen to have one around, is kind of convenient for the other controls it gives you (distance from the paper is easily varied to control length of exposure, etc.) I would always just pull the enlarger lens out of my enlarger and expose the paper directly with the light coming through where the lens was. I got quite reasonable 30-40 sec exposures for Azo. Very easy to dodge and burn, though maybe it is with a bare light bulb, too, which I have never tried.

Good luck,


-- Nathan Congdon (, August 13, 2001.

I use my enlarger with the lens taken out. The enlarger can be lowered down to make the light more intense if need be.

-- james (, August 13, 2001.

I once knew someone who did B+W contact prints with a photocopier. If you use one with an over-size bed for the format you're using you get a very even light. Dodging and burning was done with masks he laid under the film.

-- Struan Gray (, August 14, 2001.

Man, what a great idea! I guess you could use just about anything, even an old flatbed scanner. You really can get alot of control by using masks & diffusion layers, or matte acetate. The beauty of it is that it's repeatable as well. Stoufer is about the only company left that still makes contact printers, and they probably cost more new than an office sized copier would.

-- DK Thompson (, August 14, 2001.

I still like the light above the paper. I found using a cheap quartz halogen lamp from KMart (the kind on a telescoping arm) works well as long as I diffuse it a bit to get rid of hot spots. Normal exposures for my negs & Azo run aroung 20-30 seconds. A nice benefit of dodging this way is that it is fairly easy. Burning is easier yet. Cut out a few different shaped holes in a mat board & burn to your hearts content in very small or larger areas. You can burn this way with enough control to match overly bright window views on the negative. I have also used the enlarger with lens removed but found I have to tape over the lens stage extension where the focus comes down or specular reflections show up on the print. Same thing with keeping a drink in a glass near the paper... the pattern of the glass was reflecting on the paper & giving wierd exposure patterns & it took a bit for me to figure it out. Silver, chrome or glass near the paper & light during exposure can sure bring a few surprises. The old Edward Weston way of a light bulb hanging from the ceiling still works just fine. Whatever you do make sure it is consistent so you can get repeatable results.

-- Dan Smith (, August 14, 2001.

If you use a condenser enlarger with the lens removed, you might want to put a diffusion screen in the negative carrier.

I was doing this without any diffusing material and started noticing that many of my prints had a small dark spot in the middle. Sometimes it was obscured in the detail of the print, so it took me a while to realize that it was the projection of the bulb on the paper.

-- David Goldfarb (, August 15, 2001.

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