Enlarger issues

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

I won’t be the first to admit it, I don’t always like to print in the darkroom. It is like trying to enter a meditative state while walking blindfolded into a minefield, I am unable to calm my mind and instead ends up a futile attempt. But there are occasions where the stars to align and printing  in the darkroom using an enlarger 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 actually enjoyed printing. 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.

My biggest pet peeve has always been about getting conflicting exposure strip versus final print results, it is as if the enlarger decided it didn’t out 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 had to wrestle with incorrect exposure settings even after determining the correct value after using a test stripe, but the corners needed additional burning and the exact value is hard to obtained and required many times 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.

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.

When the real problem was determined and fixed, chosen exposure from the test strips and final print out time would be the same, I felt confidant of my results and sanity.


The results aren’t perfect, but the base exposure is correct and the corners only need minor additional burning (this one doesn’t have any burning on the corners where as the ones above have a lot of corner burning and still wasn’t perfect).


The important thing was I finally had consistency!


The cause? It was because I had been using a shitty 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 3 shots above were done with a Nikon enlarger lens.



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