Paper Negatives - Best Paper to Use?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by jay_fredrick, Jun 27, 2005.

  1. Hello Everyone,

    I am looking to get back into producing 8x10 paper negatives on a
    large format camera, for Van Dyke and Cyanotype prints.

    I am looking for a top 10 list of the best FB paper to use for paper
    negatives. No watermarks on the non-imaging side, please.


  2. Hi Jay,
    althought it shows up in literature, i'd not recommend to do paper negs. You do not only need a high Dmax, but also a long Dmin-Dmax. Obviously the Paper will add a high "fog" or Dmin.
    This would mean until your shadows are exposed sufficiently, your lights are too dark.

    I doubt there are any lightweight FBs around. Most are at least "double" 180g/sqm or triple 280-300 g/sqm.
    I admit I didn't try waxing, maybe thats a way. But after starting with maco GPF i had no reason anymore.
    fotoimpex sells a special lightweight "document" paper by foma, but thats RC and fixed contrast.
    So if you insist on FB, my first guess would be Fomabrom or Adox/Classic Polycold for they are on 180 and bromide-silver gives you strong black.
  3. Paper negatives are almost impossible to expose right and show an extreme amount of contrast anyway, meaning that they're also almost impossible to print. I therefore cannot really recommand this technique either - too frustrating. And don't forget that paper is only sensitive to blue (graded) or blue and green (variable contrast) light.

    A way to minimize contrast on your paper negative to more manageable levels would be to use variable contrast paper with a 0 or 00 filter - the drawback is that only blue light reaches the paper. RC paper is transparent enough to print to; it will cost you 2-3 stops (meaning that a cyanotype will likely take almost a full day to print under the sun).
  4. Jay;

    You need a low contrast image in a paper negative to get the right tone scale in the print. It cannot be the same as in a 'real' negative, but cannot be a normal paper scale. The contrast has to be in the range of 0.4 - 0.7.

    Ron Mowrey
  5. Hi folks,
    you are absolutely sure, Jay needs a .4-.7 neg for Cyanos and Van Dykes? Maybe I`m not firm with converting Gamma to Densitiy, but for my Cyanos and my VanDykes I do need a Gamma close to 1 or a density (reflectivity is irrelevant) range of at least 1.4-1.8. Pop even on the hard end. A .5-.6 normal condenser head enlarging neg doesn't show the contrast range necessary for alt processes.
    If you really know mods on the sensitizers/processes, that work with a say .5 neg, i'd really appreciate to know.
    Maybe different for the one-step reversal process. I didn't try this.

    Jay, maybe it would be helpful to know, which goal you hope to archieve with using FB paper negs instead of film or RC Paper.

  6. Jay,
    I know this answer to your question is late in coming but I only just now saw it. For paper negatives use whatever paper you want. Fiber is best for retouching on the back. You might not get absolutely crisp and super sharp detail in the final image but who cares? Send me e-mail direct if you have any questions. I will be happy to help.
    My best,
  7. RC paper is great for paper negatives, but it isn't archival, fiber is. As far as the sensitivity of the paper, not an issue. ASA 4-7 of paper is more than enough on a fully sunny or partially cloudy day. It sounds low, but a nice sunny EV day of 10 & my exposure for the slowest paper neg is sitting at 1/30th at f5.6. Not Bad.

    The blue sensitivity of the paper is actually what we want, since outdoor light is 5000-6000K mid day. The multi-grade shows a little more tonality and contrast, but i opt for graded. Personal prefrence.

    Printing with a plate burner. A high intensity UV source for exposing plates for a printing press. Paper on paper exposures are not an issue either.

    Paper Negatives are a lot cheaper than film, this is one consideration. 8x10 and 11x14 film even ortho film is a chunk of change. And who only buy's 10 box? Plus, I like developing the paper negatives, the tonal range. Certain subjects deal with the lack of contrast just fine. I can reversal process the negative into a positive for a fine art print. There are a lot of options when it comes to alternative photography.

    Then there is the side of me wants to do it because so few people do it, the look is something that is original.

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