Tag Archives: contact printing

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!

Fujifilm 利根 WP/Gaslight Paper


Finally I found the Fuji TONE WP printing paper for contact printing. I have to add that I have not wet printed for a long time and especially never with the Fuji materials (paper developer today was Fuji Super-Korectol-L). 

First things first: it is an RC paper, medium weight and it is glossy. That probably violates several commandments of the fine art photography world. This is probably a disappointment for some people, but not for me. Here’s why:

Like meeting a rude person, what first strikes you is the lack of sensitivity of this paper. My other stock (Fuji Bromide, RC, graded) had exposures between 1-2s with my setup, which is why I have a darkroom timer hooked up to the bulb. With this paper I exposed for 100-150 seconds! Yes, that is very long but I found it gives me amazing precision for exposure (no fractions of seconds to worry about) and even a kitchen timer will do. The lack of sensitivity should also be beneficial for people with makeshift darkrooms that are not totally light tight (within reason).


So for me this paper will become my new standard stock at least for work prints and proofing. It helped me already making better prints because of the longer exposures. You can dodge as much as you want in that time period and really look at the negative in the contact printer while thinking what to do with it.

The prints themselves show a very pleasant tonality as far as I am concerned. Contrast just right for me at grade 3 (a matter of taste and how your negatives look like; I have seen last stocks of grade 2 version, but going forward it will only be made in 3). The image is crisp and blacks are rich and deep where you want them. Overall the grey is nice and neutral. This is a very user-friendly paper for contact printing and I am very pleased with it. Unfortunately I was told earlier this week that Fuji paper prices will go up by 10-20% in summer so I will stock up a bit.

As always, this Japan-only product is on sale in the Japan Exposures Webshop.

Word collector

Just thought I should write down some photographic terms in Japanese for myself and the valued readership.

On Sunday, I am going to the club meeting of my local camera club. I have never been in a camera club before, but the thought of being in a Japanese camera club somehow intrigues me. It is not a very big group, around 10 people, and, as you can imagine, the average age is well above 50. But they seem a jolly bunch, meet once a month and do some outings together (the ones you imagine, Japanese snappers with big gadget cameras all over the place, as depicted here). So I should arm myself with some useful words, to be able to critique some images and explain myself.

Addendum (Sep 6): I have been to the camera club meeting, and it was interesting. However I somehow don’t like the “sensei” having the ultimate authority over what is a good photo and what isn’t, and running around with those cropping bars and selecting a 10th of the original shot. Anyway, my word list helped and I have added some more words, and keep doing so from now on. And I have memorised this Japanese expression, in case I get ever too bothered about what I consider unjustified criticism:

(n) (col) Several men, several minds, everyone has his own ideas and tastes, everyone has his own interests and ideas, different strokes for different folks
十人十色 [じゅうにんといろ]
Continue reading Word collector