Why are my pictures coming out gray?

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When I develop photos, they've been coming out very gray. I thought that the developer may have been exhausted, so I mixed fresh and that didn't help. I considered that my paper was fogged, but I tested it and it didn't turn gray when I put in the developer, and the pictures were consistently gray, not just at the top. Also, the edges of the paper stayed white. It's not my negatives because I've been using several different rolls of film and negatives that I haven't had a problem with in the past. It's also not a filter problem because I've been trying different negatives. The problem seems to occur with the developer, but I'm not sure if that's the cause. Does anyone have any other suggestions as to why the pictures are so gray?

-- Ashley Jardina (ajardina@home.com), January 21, 2001


Ashley It would help greatly if you could show us a photo or two. You seem to have eliminated quite a few of the causes. I would also check to see if the safelight is really safe. And finally, how old is the paper. What kind of paper is it. Perhaps there is a defect in the paper itself. Lets see a photo. kevin

-- Kevin Kolosky (kjkolosky@kjkolosky.com), January 21, 2001.

The most likely reason is overexposure and underdevelopment. You should be able to leave your paper in the developer for 1.5 - 2 minutes, and adjust exposure so that the prints do not turn out too dark, by lessening the time of the exposure and/or the f-stop on the lens of the enlarger.

-- Paul Oosthoek (pauloosthoek@hotmail.com), January 22, 2001.

How about just exposing a sheet of enlarging paper to white light and then developing it. Does it come out black?


-- Christian Harkness (chris.harkness@eudoramail.com), January 22, 2001.

Sounds like old paper, though it could be chemical fog from the developer.

-- Ed Buffaloe (edb@unblinkingeye.com), January 22, 2001.

Since negatives that have worked well before now turn out badly I guess it could be the paper. However, I had a similar experience with perfectly good paper and the cause was the enlarger. The enlarger was a modular design where one can choose to use a condenser head or a diffusion head. With the diffusion head mounted, one has to plug the hole where the lightbulb would have been if the condenser head had been in place. The hole was not covered, and light flooded out during the exposure, making the exposed part of the paper very grey indeed. A slightly less pronounced grey have occured when the lens mount hasn't been properly situated.

-- Peter Olsson (peter.olsson@lulebo.se), January 22, 2001.

Experiment. Take a piece of paper, place a coin on the paper to block out all light and expose the paper using the enlarger but no negative. Note, put a negative in the enlarger and focus but then remove the neg before exposure - a nice long exposure Ė one thatís sure to produce black. Develop. If the coin is pure paper white and non-coin area is really black, then it's probably your negatives. If the coin is white but the blacks are grey - then I would suspect developer/temperature/time or bad paper that canít produce blacks. If the coin area is gray I might suspect fixing is not clearing the paper giving an overall yellow-grey cast to the paper or someone peeked into your box of paper with the lights on and it's fogged, or old, or dead paper.

This might not be all of the problems but it should get you closer to understanding the problem. Hope this helps - Doug

-- doug mcfarland (junquemail222@yahoo.com), January 22, 2001.

Check your safelights. They may be too close to the paper, or shining directly on the paper. Direct them away from the paper.

-- Boris Krivoruk (boris_krivoruk@ams.com), January 23, 2001.

Ashley, It seems you've fogged paper. Try this: 1- expose the paper for a light gray; 2- leave something above the paper for a while, under the safelight; 3- develop for the usual time. Remember that fogging light sometimes ain't enough to show on the borders, while it will be easily detected on already exposed areas. Good luck!

-- Cesar Barreto (cesarb@infolink.com.br), January 29, 2001.

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