Enlarger issues

I decided it’s time to actually show some printouts instead of scanning the negatives directly.

I won’t be the first to admit it, but printing in the darkroom isn’t something I find easy to do. For me, it is like trying to enter a meditative state while walking blindfolded into a minefield, I need to calm my mind before hand. But there are occasions where the stars do align and printing  in the darkroom feel great.

This was one of those times.

I’m not saying my print out this time was awesome or exhibition worthy, but at the least I managed to get into the printing mood quickly. Whenever I set out to print in the darkroom, it becomes a terrible exercise of trying NOT to rip every single piece of RC or Fiber paper I have to shreds or set them alight.

The reason why I used to have such a hard time printing (I’m ahead of myself here) was because of conflicting exposures of test strips and final print.

It is biggest peeve – getting conflicting exposure strip versus final print results. It is as if the enlarger decided it didn’t want to play nice and change the output results. Another one is getting inconsistent exposures throughout the printout requiring additional burning at the corners of the final print.


Notice here I not only I had to wrestle with incorrect exposure settings even after determining the correct value from a test stripe, but the corners needed additional burning and the exact value is hard to obtained and requires many tries to get it right (Assuming the base exposure remained correct even after repeated printing – note – it doesn’t always and leads to frustrating times).


This was the only instance where after much wrangling, I got it close to what I had hoped. But it shouldn’t be so difficult.

At first I had thought it was the timer issues, but I actually did time test with my stopwatch. The light bulb was new so it couldn’t be the light source.

Finally the problem was determined and fixed, I was now getting consistent printouts that matched with the chosen exposure from the test strips! Final print out time were the same.

So what was the problem?

It was because I had been using a poor quality enlarger lens – a Konica enlarger lens, I  learned of this when my mentor told me about the problem, it was no better than a lomo lens (I know I’m going to get hate emails from lomo fans later). The following 3 shots below were done with a Nikon enlarger lens.


The results aren’t perfect, but at least the base exposure was correct and the corners only need minor burning.


But the important thing was I finally had consistency!


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