Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Darkroom Printing

Although I regularly get down into my darkroom to process film, printing of the resulting negatives doesn't happen nearly as often.  It is a bit of a production to set up and properly print. Sometimes I use unsharp masks with my negatives, and these have to be made ahead of time.  I don't like resin coated paper for anything but proofs and work prints so all of my serious work is printed on fiber based paper.  The actual print session involves an entire evening.  If I am successful, I usually get around to printing three negatives, and multiple copies of each.  At the end of the evening these prints are fixed and left in a tray of water.  The next evening I return to the darkroom and give the prints a second fixing bath, followed by a water rinse, a hypo clearing bath, a toning bath in selenium and then a final rinse.  The prints are then moved to a print washer.  As I usually don't have time to remain nearby and babysit the washer, I generally just leave the prints in the washer for about 24 hours.  During this 24 hour soaking bath I try to change the water a half a dozen times, and then at the end I run with washer for at least 15 minutes or more.  Once this washing process is completed the prints are hung up to drip dry, and then transferred to drying screens.
Back in December, a former customer of mine at my shop placed an order for one of my prints.  He had seen my "Warwick Sunflowers" print in my Procession West book and wanted a copy as a Christmas gift for his wife.  I printed that one to 11" x 14" a couple of weeks before Christmas and managed to get it mounted, matted and framed a few days before the holiday. 

Then, this past weekend I worked on a larger 16" x 20" print of my "Looking Down" image.  This is a shot looking down onto the rocks in the Astoria River, from the bridge on Highway 93A in Jasper National Park.  It was taken in November of 2016 when I was out in the mountains with the gang from the Monochrome Guild on our annual fall trip.  This image was selected for exhibition in the upcoming InFocus2018 show.  More to follow on that later....   
My friend Gabor came over for a visit while I was working on this print.  He shoots with a Leica and has processed a reasonable amount of film, but he has not done much printing.  He was returning a camera that he had borrowed from me, and decided to hang out in the darkroom and watch me print.  My negative was a fairly easy one to print this time. I used my typical split filter printing technique to control the contrast to my liking.  A couple of shadow areas needed to be dodged a little and one of the larger highlight areas needed some burning in.  Once we were finished with my print we tried printing a couple of Gabor's 35mm negatives.  Unfortunately I could not locate the lensboard for my 50mm enlarging lens in the mess that is my darkroom.  We had to print with the 135mm lens, which is intended for a much larger negative.  As a result the largest print we could achieve was on 8" x 10" paper, and the image did not fully cover the sheet.  But, the process was a good learning tool for Gabor and I hope he went away with a little better understanding as to how to make a fine print.

No comments:

Post a Comment