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Subject:Better printing through chemistry
Time:12:47 am
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.

Whee!
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jcdill
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Time:2010-10-05 03:14 pm (UTC)
The timing isn't nearly as critical in printing as it is in developing the film. And the only one that is really critical is the developer. With stop bath and fixer, the timing is the *minimum* time you need to leave the print in that tray. If you leave it in the stop bath an extra 30 seconds it won't change the print. (Try it, print 2 test strips with the paper side-by-side under the glass, put them both in the developer for the same time, but leave one in the stop bath for an extra 30-60 seconds.) Ditto for fixer, once you have left the print in for "long enough" leaving it in longer won't change anything as you have already "fixed" all the chemistry that needed fixing. And ditto again for the wash bath that follows fixer. So don't get all fussed about exact timing on those steps.

Now with the developer, you can get some very interesting effects by leaving the print in the developer longer. I highly recommend reading Ansel Adams books The Negative and The Print. Adams had the luxury of using sheet film (not roll film) and could develop the negative for each image with specific development settings. Once you learn how to do this you won't want to shoot roll film anymore, you will want that control and will be shopping for a 4x5 camera! Bwahahahahaha. She's coming over to the dark side......
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