Making contacts

Contact printing with the ISE Contact Printer and Fuji Rembrant VAs I have written a short while ago I am busy preparing some prints for a small exhibition. After good results with the Fuji TONE Gaslight contact printing paper it was time now to produce some display quality fibre prints. I have not printed on fibre paper for at least ten years so was anxious to get things done on time.

I need not have worried. To create my prints I used Fuji Bromide Rembrant V variable grade fibre based paper. The paper comes in two weights, single weight (F) and double weight (G). I went for the double weight variant in 10×12 inch size. This lets me contact print the 8×10 negative while leaving a thick white border around the image area, which is visually pleasing and should come in handy for matting or mounting.

The other key tool for successful contact printing was the ISE Multiple Contact Printer. ISE makes these contact printers in 10×12 and 8×10 sizes. Most of them have markings for film strips in 120 or 35mm formats, but there is also a free size version with unmarked glass – ideal for sheet film contacts. The bottom is foam to ensure even pressure across the print and the glass lid locks into place with a latch. To achieve the white border, I cut a window in the thin black sheet of cover paper that comes with the paper to protect its surface. The window has the exact size of the 8×10 negative and also helps centering the negative on the paper. The unexposed edge of the film sheet is also included, which means you see a black border around the image area including the film coding.

The light source is my trusty Kaiser VC 35 enlarger from Germany, which as a drawer multi-grade contrast filters. I put the head on maximum height and de-focus it slightly as to not accidentally enlarge grains of dust sitting on the condensor, which will baffle you when trying to clean the contact printer’s glass and the negative itself over and over without improvement. When printing on TONE Gaslight paper the lens is wide open and results in base exposure times of around 90 seconds. The Rembrant paper is a lot more sensitive, so the lens needs be stopped down and the resulting times are under 10 seconds to allow ample time for dodging and burning. The key to efficient printing on fibre with its extended processing times is the prior work print on the TONE Gaslight paper. Once you understand the relationship between exposure times of the two papers you simply need to convert the time for base and burn exposures and you can achieve excellent prints using just a single or two sheets. Of course you can then also do split-grade exposures to add some punch. You can see the dry set up in the image above.

I am very pleased with the results of the Rembrant V papers. The tones are very pleasing and so is the air-dried surface. Curling is manageable with some pressure for a day or so.

Well, with the prints done well ahead of time all that is now left to do for me is matting and they are ready for display from the 16th this month!