If you have already created a contact sheet of your negatives, and they appear correctly exposed, then you should have a rough idea of the necessary exposure (provided you haven’t moved the enlarger head or aperture setting after exposing the contact sheet). Note: If you change the degree of enlargement you will also need to adjust the exposure. Some enlargers have scales printed on their columns to make this easier.
The area of the negative you choose for exposure testing won’t necessarily be the centre. It should ideally contain a range of tones that is representative of the negative as a whole. If this is impossible then pick the most important region of the picture.
The drawback of traditional exposure testing, made by progressively covering or uncovering a strip of paper during the exposure, is that each step shows a different portion of the negative.
A better method is as follows:
By following the above procedure, you will be able to determine the correct exposure for the print you wish to make.
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