Darkroom test prints

Hello all, interesting community you have here.

I’m new to B&W film printing in a darkroom, and I’m finding I’m wasting print paper and time with failed test strips (wrong part of the image, not optimal contrast filters, time ‘slicing’, etc).

I know experimentation is part of the fun but I’m wondering if there’s some information to be gleaned from a scanned (.dng) uncorrected negative that I could use to infer print times.

Something like ‘average brighness’ = xxx , ‘average darks’ = yyy , ‘average brights’ = zzz

I could then use that to suggest a NN second test print with CC contrast value - as an initial guess.

Any thoughts on whether LR or similar offers any such values ?

Thank you, Andy

Do you make actual darkroom contact prints? If so then with experience you can estimate printing exposure times for other images on the roll once you’ve printed one successfully. A contact print is such a useful reference. You could do the same from a digital contact prints, i.e. photographing the whole roll on a lightbox or possibly using a flatbed scanner, but that’s not all that straightforward to achieve. I would also recommend those gadgets that allow you to expose the same part of a negative for different times, basically just a frame with ‘flaps’ that lift up, you move the whole frame between exposures (e.g. Paterson Test Strip printer), you can make your own in fact. I’m saying this because for me all that sounds easier than what you are suggesting. Even a simple (and inexpensive) averaging darkroom exposure meter should get you to the right place quite quickly

I’m sure that the internet is awash with advice on printing but I came across these recently, seems pretty good advice to me:

There are actually 5 parts in all.

Thank you, I’m reading this now, it’s very informative and well written.

The other parts are a little tricky to find but they are here:

I do recommend the princilple of ‘F-Stop printing’, at its simplest this means getting used to increasing exposure by multiples of 1/4 stop rather than a fixed number of seconds, roughly this means multiplying by 1.19 which can be entered as a constant on a simple calculator. I put something in the comments of this post, the text formatting got messed up unfortunately: