New to High Quality darkroom

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Hi all,

I Have been working in the B/W darkroom for some years now, and a couple of years in 120. I can clearly see the benefits of the 120 film, but I still work in the darkroom much as I did over this years right from the beginning, and I want to improve my technique so I can benefit the most from the upgrade to MF.

I donít expect to become a master printer, but at least to start paying more attention to the matter.

Currently Y use, Forte paper, neutol NE and agfix, water as stop bath, RC paper (cause I donít have where to flatten the FB).

Any help appreciated.

-- Diego K. (heuristica@yahoo.com), June 09, 2001

Answers

Diego,

Attending good workshops or classes is one way to pick up additional information and methods for honing your techniques.

-- Jim (jimzpace@yahoo.com), June 09, 2001.


Hi Diego,

I consider my self a pretty good printer, but definitely not in the master class. The basics and a lot more can be learned from books, but there comes a time when you just have to get in the darkroom with someone else to work on the fine points. I hit some stumbling blocks a couple years ago and wasted a lot of time trying to get myself back on track. All it took was literally one good session with someone else to provide a different viewpoint, and I began making progress again. You might also want to pick up a copy of Ctein's Post Exposure, as it covers some things not well understood by most printers.

-- Conrad Hoffman (choffman@rpa.net), June 09, 2001.


IMHO the most important part of becoming a better printer (or photographer for that matter) is attitude. You mention the materials you use, so you must currently consider them more important than your technique, that must change. The trash can is your friend, don't hesitate to use it.

-- Tim Brown (brownt@flash.net), June 10, 2001.

The most important piece of equipment to have in a darkroom to ensure high quality prints is a large trash can.

-- Michael Feldman (mfeldman@qwest.net), June 10, 2001.

Greetings,

I am by no means a great printer, but I'm always working on improving my prints. The biggest improvement I've noticed, occurred when I bought two 250 sheet boxes of the same paper and kept printing, printing, printing. As was previously stated, the garbage pail is your best friend and teacher; don't be afraid to use it. Try anything once. A good book if you're using VC papeer is Steve Anchell's "The Variable Contrast Printing Manual."

Regards,

-- Pete Caluori (pcaluori@hotmail.com), June 11, 2001.



something that helps to get good prints is to *see* what they look like. books are good. but nothing can take the place of actually seeing what really great prints look like. i don't know where you live, but always go to the exhibits in your area, and maybe there is a museum, gallery or archive nearby that offers print viewings from thier collection to the public (the center for creative photography in tucson is a tremendous resource in this regard).

also, a good print means many many many things. each photographer has their own style. eugene smith would usually print very contrasty, sometimes allowing the shadows to just dissapear into blackness to allow the highlight to "draw" the print. masahisa fukase will often just print the whole thing down to a charcoal dusty darkness with no highlights at all. don worth has some amazing prints that are almost entirely created out of middle grey and the most luminous hightlights just barely holding onto detail. so its important to look around and see what other people have done. find other photographers that you like a lot, and figure out what they are doing. figure out if you like things contrasty or flat, dark or light, full of detail or almost abstracted into simplicity. there have been many times in my own work, where for awhile what i photograph, and how i print will look a lot like someone i admire. but then, over time, working, you get past that, and what you learn in that process gets incorporated and becomes your own.

once exercise you might try is to pick one good negative that you like a lot, and print the heck out of it. make a 100 different versions. change contrast. burning and dodging. go for extremes and also seek out subtleities. see how its emotional tone and even meaning will change depending on how you print it. making three four five great but different version of the same negative will help you on your road to mastering the possabilities inherent in any negative. just remember there are no rules.

-- James L. (jl@mollymail.com), June 11, 2001.


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