Nautilus – the contact print

Contact print from the 8x10 negative

Contact print from the 8×10 negative

I’ve already posted about this shell photograph, but the image used in that post was made from a scan of the 8×10 negative. This is a scan of a contact print from the same negative.

It was made on Fomalux SP111, a paper designed for contact printing and only available in one grade at present, ‘Special’, which approximates to Grade 2. It is a silver chloride emulsion and therefore much slower than the silver bromide used in normal enlarging papers, however it can be used for enlargement if you are prepared to wait for the long exposures to complete (and have a glass carrier to ensure the negative remains flat throughout).

With my enlarger set to illuminate the whole contact frame I found the base exposure with the lens wide open (f5.6) was 90 seconds. The print was developed in Ansco 120, a soft-working warm tone developer, diluted 1+3 for 3 minutes at 23ºC. Some dodging of the dark foreground in front of the shell was needed (minus 30 seconds) and the background area above the shell was darkened by giving an additional 60 seconds exposure.
The tonality is totally different to that obtained via the negative scan and image processing in Adobe Lightroom. I include that here for comparison.

Image produced from a scan of the 8x10 film negative, processed in Adobe Lightroom.

Image produced from a scan of the 8×10 film negative, processed in Adobe Lightroom.

The Adobe Lightroom version was processed to achieve the effect I sought, one of luminosity coupled with a much softer rendering. The actual contact print is more contrasty – a result of the paper grade being somewhat ‘harder’ than I would like. As only this grade is available – it is not a variable contrast emulsion – only modified print development can alter it – or negatives destined for contact printing on it need to be developed to a lower contrast.

It is an interesting paper though, exhibiting very rich blacks and toning easily in selenium to deepen them further (although this image has not been toned). One of only two contact printing papers still made, the other being Lodima, which is hard to obtain in the UK.

This entry was posted in 8x10, Contact Print, Film negative, Silver Gelatin. Bookmark the permalink.

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