The photographic paper is paper coated with light-sensitive chemicals, used for making photographic prints. The photographic paper is exposed to light in a controlled manner, either by placing a negative in contact with the paper directly to produce a contact print, by using an enlarger in order to create a latent image, by exposing in some types of camera to produce a photographic negative, by scanning a modulated light source over the paper, or by placing objects upon it to produce photograms. Photographic papers are subsequently developed using the gelatin-silver process to create a visible image.
Chances are every negative on a roll of film is not always going to be perfect. As a matter of fact, probably only 3 or 4 images on a roll of 24 will be worthy of being printed onto a piece of expensive light-sensitive paper. Professional photographers and students will often take an alternative approach, then just printing every single frame on a roll of film. They will make a contact sheet a selectively choose the image they like best. All papers are light that is light-sensitive, are much like film. They have several layers, and the most important being the emulsion or light-sensitive layer. Paper, however, usually is white; this is provided by the base. The base gives the other two layers support and unlike film makes a solid background instead of a transparent background.
The paper is protected by a gelatin super coating cover that protects the emulsion from scratching and chemicals. There are two major types of paper. First, there is fibre-based. The fibre-based paper came around before the other type called Resing coated. Because processing chemicals are absorbed into the paper, rinsing and drying take 4 to 5 times longer than RC papers. Fibre-based papers often are non-glossy. This means that there is little or no gloss to the final print. On the other hand, resin-coated papers are less delicate and can be processed much faster and tend to have a longer life span. Both types of papers are packaged and supported by many vendors including Kodak, Ilford, Agfa, and Oriental.
The paper that you will use will have to be decided by the desired print contrast and quality. Paper is rated using three variables. These variables are determined by the surface, weight, and contrast. The surface varies from smooth glossy to highly textured. A smooth surface is glossy or shiny, while a textured surface has a matte appearance. Samples of photo paper finishes are available at nearly every retail photography store. The weight corresponds to the thickness of the paper. Fibre-based paper usually comes in single weight and double weight. Most prints made on fibre-based paper are single weight. RC papers, however, are medium weight. Double weight paper resembles the stiffness of cardboard and is more expensive than single weight. Most papers are available in several contrast grades to compensate for less-than-perfect negatives. By adjusting the print time and by using contrast filters, it is often possible to make a perfect print with a not-so-perfect negative.
As the grade value increases the range between black and white decreases. Commonly papers are available in 5 different grades. Some special papers called variable-contrast papers are available. These types are often used by beginners because they are the most forgiving. They allow for contrast manipulation through the use of colour filters. These papers are coated with two layers of emulsion. The first layer is equivalent to a grade 1 paper and the second is equivalent to a grade 4 paper. Grade one is sensitive to yellow light. The 4 is sensitive to a purplish light. The filters have a certain hue that passes more or less light to a certain layer, making more or less contrast. When you store your paper, always make sure it is nowhere near any type of light. If you keep it in the manufacturer envelope, make sure it is always sealed outside of the darkroom. Also, the temperature is very critical in preserving the quality of the paper.
Chemicals and Equipment
Whether you intend to make a positive sheet or enlarged prints from your negatives, you need chemicals to develop and fix your image stored on the photographic paper. You also need certain basic pieces of equipment and an enlarger. The chemicals that you will need are very similar to film chemicals. A developer, stop bath, and fixer is required to make the latent image appear on your exposed paper. If you forget from the previous film section, a developer turns the exposed silver halide crystals dark. A stop-bath neutralizes that process, and a fixer takes those crystals and freezes them and makes the image permanent. If you leave the developing image in the fixer for too long, it will begin bleaching the image out. The basic equipment is tongs, trays, thermometer, print squeegee, contact printing glass, dusting equipment, negative carrier, timer, contrast filters, safelight, and the enlarger.