October 5th, 2010

Better printing through chemistry

Last week about this time I wrote about going retro and learning to process film. This week we took the next step and learned to print.

The whole darkroom thing is a pain in the ass in a lot of ways... there are lots of small, involved steps and just learning the mechanics is annoying. And then you have to put it in this chemical bath for 90 seconds, then this one for 20 this one for 60, this one for 90... and don't you dare swap tongs between them. Plus, you're setting timers, adjusting settings, and fumbling around in near-darkness, which adds a layer of annoying to everything.

On the other hand, the mechanics come pretty quickly, and pretty soon you find yourself engrossed in the thing you're trying to create rather than which knob you need to turn or how long you need to leave the print in the stop bath. I did, at least. After each test strip or print the instructor would look at the results with you and tell you what to use for the next round, but by the second round I was either just waiting for him to validate what I already knew, or overriding his suggestions because I knew what I wanted and how to get it.

Having said that, I have a deep and profound understanding of how much I don't know. I am well and truly a beginner and I will be for a long time. It's just that it all made sense to me, and I was able to look at a print, know how I wanted it to be different, and then change it in the way that I wanted.

I was, of course, printing the girl on the beach.

Next week we learn to dodge and burn. Still, I was >< this close to just sticking my hand out there and doing it this week. I'll be back in the darkroom this week 'cause I have homework. Plus, I have two rolls of film to process.