There's detail in the shadowed door on the left and detail in the stone wall on the right, so the original neg must have been exposed adequately.
However, on the left-hand facing wall, there's a dust spot, about a fifth of the way down, which is white (or almost white on my screen). The print does in fact, have a full range of tones. Perhaps the problem lies in the neg.
First thing I'd check max black compared to max. white. You then know how far you can go with the print.
If you don't have a grey step wedge you can make your own with a black paper, white paper and inbetween a 18% grey card on one piece of film.
My posting has overlapped with your second print. It looks very much better. Twenty seconds is a long time for a print that size. That would have been my expected time for a 20x216 print.
Have you checked the lamp? Is it running at the proper voltage? I'm not an electrician, but running a lamp below its proper voltage would alter its colour drastically as well as reducing the output.
My very first thing I do when I open a new package of paper I use my grey step wage and test/measure the sensitivity of the paper, you see this in the image above. With this I get a "index" value which I can use with my darkroom exposure meter.
If I then ever struggle with pictures and I don't know where it comes from I again use this grey step wage and test the paper again.
Do I don't get the same results, I have to exchange developer or darkroom red light or whatever I could be.
After knowing the paper, and this is the same as knowing the film, I know how and where to put tones from the negativ.
I have a exposure meter which I calibratre with the index to the paper, so if I have a area in the negativ which I want to get in zone V I just put the meter under the enlarger and can measure exposing time.
For my worksheets this is the beginning of the journey to a fine print.
the grey step is a 35mm piece of film I've bought about 25 years ago.
The numbers on it are kind of zones didn't check them for real zones but they work well for it.
Having such a greyscsale print I can use it for following work, each step is a f-stop
I think I am starting to get somewhere now.
Over the past 12-18 moths, I have been buying second hand paper on ebay auctions when I started to experiment with paper negatives. I only bought the paper which was cheap, in some cases, less than £5 for 1/2 box of 8x10 RC Glossy.
Moving on to the enlarger
Now I have the enlarger setup, obviously, I wanted to try and learn a bit of wet printing. I was naturally using some of this paper I had been buying and the results are awful (NO CONTRAST)
A Cry For Help
I went to see @Keith Haithwaite yesterday to see if we could get to the bottom of it. He gave me a few sheets of some paper which he had only purchased a few days ago.
After doing some further test strips with his paper, I am now starting to see exposure times in the regions I would have expected. I did a test strip at 4, 6, 8, 12 seconds at f/8 and also another one at 12,24,36 at f/22 both with NO FILTERS.
I also did a test strip from some of this ebay paper again at 4,6,8,12 to compare the difference, and they are like chalk and cheese. The eBay paper is so flat and shows only about 50% of what the New paper shows.
This is the test strip from the New paper, unfortunately, I did not keep the ebay paper test strip.
Until I do more testing today, it looks as though the ebay paper has lost its "get up and go" which has probably taught me a lesson not to buy second hand paper.
I recall having some paper that had been stored for some time and giving a box to my friend who is a lifelong darkroom printer. I thought it might be useful for making rough first prints. It was so degraded that he absolutely refused a second batch for any purpose at all. Ian seems to have run into the same problem.
As it was such an attractive scene, it would be good to see a new print.
Hi Ian. I’ve just seen this thread, and my immediate reaction to the first print was that the paper was fogged. Initially I thought by the safelight, but this is also how it looks when it has gone well beyond its expiry date. The trouble with paper, however ,is that it generally doesn’t carry an expiry date. From experience, it has to be pretty old, or very badly stored to start looking fogged. If you’re worried about using fresh paper in time, buy smaller quantities, although this is less economic.
Old paper can be improved with the addition of Benzotriazole to the developer. Search for that on FADU for advice about how to use it. I haven’t tried it yet, but it is said to restore aging paper to a usable state.
Paper life depends on storage, Ilford reckon paper will keep well at least 7, and with cool dry storage it should be OK a lot longer.
I'm using Kodak Polycontrast paper I was given about 15 years ago by a lab owner friend, it wasn't new then but prints perfectly. I had a lot of boxes of early 1960's Kodak Bromide and Bromesko papers, I gave them to a workshop,group but only after testing each box, speed had dropped, contrast was down about half a grade but all gave good blacks and there was no base fogging, so perfectly usable
But I've seen new paper (in a shop in Istanbul) poorly stored that was useless, stored too warm for too long. Some makes/types keep better than others.