paper it over

Ilford Multigrade Paper

Toronto. Once you have film negatives, they must be printed on photographic paper to be reversed. In the hey-day of film you had a wide number of choices to make: paper size, surface treatment, colour, manufacturer, grade, thickness, contact or enlargement, etc. And that was for black and white negatives. Colour had a far more limited choice since you had a correctly colour balanced and exposed negative or you didn’t – not much room to choose.

Most amateurs – and professionals used enlargers and 120 or 35mm film. When printing, like film in the camera, the first step was to get the correct exposure. Dodging and burning with tools  or by hand would allow some localized shifts in shadow and highlight. Developer could be chosen although amateurs usually stuck to Kodak or Ilford products rather than use third party pre-mixed chemicals or, hand mix from a formula in books or magazines. If glossy paper  was chosen, an extra step was needed – drying face down on a heated ferrotype plate to get a hard shiny surface.

Before 35mm and 120 film, professionals used larger size glass plates or cut film. The careful use of a soft pencil or scraping with a sharp blade substituted for dodging and burning under an enlarger.

Today, our computer printers shoot out colour prints on demand using special printer photo  paper usually bought at Staples or another stationery supply store. High quality prints from photographers use expensive inks, papers, and printers designed to create reliable colours and long life in many different environments.

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