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Graded Papers

Photographic printing papers are usually fully developed in order to achieve maximum black; therefore it is not possible to vary the contrast of printing paper by changing the development conditions, as is the case when processing films. Instead, different contrast grades of paper are available to accommodate the different density ranges likely to be found in negatives.

Graded Paper

ILFOSPEED RC DE LUXE is a premium quality graded black & white photographic printing paper on a resin coated base and ILFOBROM GALERIE FB is a premium quality graded photographic paper on a double weight fibre base. These monochrome printing papers are available in a range of contrast grades to suit negatives of different density ranges. Grade 1 is low-contrast, or ‘soft’, and grade 4 is high-contrast, or ‘hard’.

A negative exposed on a sunny day, with bright highlights and deep shadows, will have a much greater density range than one exposed on a dull day with flat lighting. Different contrast grades of printing paper are manufactured in order to accommodate negatives of such different density ranges.

Given correct exposure and development, the general aim is to have a print with white highlight areas still retaining some detail, and with the deepest shadows developed to maximum black. If the highlights of the print are grey and the shadows not completely black, as might be the case with the negative exposed on the dull day, then a harder grade of paper should be tried; conversely, if all highlight areas are completely white with no detail, and all shadow areas blocked up to completely black, as might be the case with the negative exposed on the sunny day, then a softer grade of paper should be suitable.