Clean your negatives off if necessary with your anti-static negative cloth and /or brush over the light table outside the darkroom, also making sure the negative is sharp by inspecting the negative strip with the lupe.
To make a contact sheet for good negatives, use between a 2 and 3 filter, 5 to 10 seconds, with an aperture of f/2.8 at enlarger height of 3. Be sure to use your negative holder for this step and make sure your piece of glass is clean. . Place you negative file emulsion side down over the paper, then place the glass over both.
Chemical mixing instructions: Developer 1:1, Stop Bath 1:7; Fixer 1:1; If chemicals are already in use, check to make sure the fixer is still good by checking with the hyo-check using one to two drops. Also inquire when the chemicals were mixed up last by referring to the chemical mixing sheet and ask others if necessary.
Your next objective is to make a test print or strip to determine the correct exposure for your negative. For a test print, place your unexposed photo paper emulsion side up on the baseboard. Focus your negative with the lens at f/2.8 (all the way open). When the negative is focused, stop down (close down) the lens to either f/5.6 or f/8 for optimum sharpness. For most negatives 3 second increments is the best time setting to determine the overall exposure for your print, For well exposed negatives 5 to 7 three seconds exposures should be enough time. Afterwards, determine proper test strip section, which reveals a rich black and clean white. If there is not a strip containing a highlight and a shadow consider increasing contrast by raising filter number. Remember to double the time when increasing filter to four or higher. Keep in mind that one should usually increase contrast filter by 1/2 of a grade if not more when making an enlargement compared to the filter you used on the contact sheet. Also, the higher the filter you use the more the grain. Be sure to use a cover sheet (another sheet of paper-back side up) on your easel to focus on. Be sure to use an opaque cardboard/covering to slide over the paper as you proceed to make 3 second exposures across the photographic paper. To develop your contact sheet or enlargement, place the exposed paper into the developer solution making sure the paper is covered with developer. Continuously agitate the paper by slowly rocking the developer tray picking up one of the corners. You cannot over agitate the print in the developer like you can with your negative processing. After about two minutes in the developer, pick print up with the tongs letting any excess developer drip from the paper and place print into stop bath for 30 seconds. Be careful not to contaminate developer by touching the stop bath chemical with the tongs. Next, move the paper from the stop bath to the fixing bath, again allowing the paper to drip before placing the paper in the fix tray. Fix the paper for 4 minutes then place the print into the holding bath for at least one minute before moving the print(s) to the final finishing rinse (sink outside darkroom) for 5 minutes.Note: When moving print(s) to final wash, be considerate not to contaminate the prints already washing in the final rinse tray. Wait for the cycle to end for those prints already washing. Squeegee off both sides of the prints before placing either into the dryers or on the RC drying racks face down. If the image/contact sheet is too dark you must either, increase time or open enlarger lens; if too light, stop down or decrease time. Try to keep enlargement exposures at 10 seconds or longer for greater control when burning and/or dodging becomes necessary. It is a good idea to take an unexposed sheet of paper-tear it in half placing immediately one half of the paper into the fixing bath for 4 minutes (this is your highlight). Expose the other half of your torn paper to light using a 21/2 filter making sure the paper receives sufficient light (this is your shadow).
Contrast Controls: One loses contrast as enlargement increases. Higher filter numbers produce more contrast while lower filter numbers produce less contrast. Contrast decreases as the developer chemistry becomes exhausted.
Burning & Dodging: Burning is defined as adding additional light ( to see more detail and information) to your print beyond the initial exposure to the areas that are sill too light. You can either use a cardboard sheet (must be opaque) with a one to two inch hole cut out, or use the edge of the cardboard sheet or your hand to control the light exposing the paper. Dodging is defined as blocking out light during the initial exposure to lighten a particular area in order to see more detail and information. You can use the same materials (cardboard/hand or both) to lighten the areas that you believe are too dark.