3-hour darkroom session, two good prints

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Wolfeye, Jun 20, 2008.

  1. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,151
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2007
    Location:
    Iowa
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Argh. I know I'm an incompetent boob when it comes to the darkroom. I spent three hours last nigth in my bathroom darkroom trying to get a nice print or two made. Too uncontrasty. Too contrasty. Forgot to stop down the enlarger after focusing, got a really nice dark print. Miscellaneous errors in judgement.

    Show of hands please? Am I the only one who spends hours trying to get two prints right? :smile:
     
  2. Barry S

    Barry S Member

    Messages:
    1,347
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2007
    Location:
    DC Metro
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Are you kidding? If I can get two prints I'm happy with in a three hours, I'm a happy camper. On the occasions when I do make more than six prints in a single session, I usually wish I spent more time and only made a couple. It takes me some time to figure out split-grade printing times and get the dodging and burning right. Unless you're in the darkroom every few days, it takes a lot of time to set up and clean up--let alone printing.
     
  3. Bill Mobbs

    Bill Mobbs Member

    Messages:
    156
    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes .........Yesterday spent 4 hours making two copies of just one print. Of course they are wonderful prints. :D ..................:wink:
     
  4. xtolsniffer

    xtolsniffer Member

    Messages:
    393
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2008
    Location:
    Yorkshire, U
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I usually think one good print in about an hour and a half is doing well, so two in three hours is about right! It takes me about 20 mins to set up for a printing session, and 20 mins to clean up, so that's a bit less than an hour a print, and that would be rushing.
     
  5. Clay2

    Clay2 Member

    Messages:
    215
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Location:
    Minden Hills
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Sounds about right to me. Getting what you want on the paper is time-consuming.
    Colour is a real bear for me. I do Kodachrome slides to Ilfochrome paper with
    an Omega B22xl enlarger with filter drawer. I can spend three hours just
    getting the filter pack correct. Why not just scan ? Because after all the time
    messing around you get a final print with deep pesonal satisfaction, but
    that's just me. Best regards,
    /Clay
     
  6. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

    Messages:
    2,130
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Your pace sounds good to me. I've spent whole days in the dark and gotten little to show for it. Sometimes you just go 0-4 at the plate, sometimes better.
     
  7. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

    Messages:
    779
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    Ontario
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Not a bad ratio. I've spent 10 hour days in the darkroom before to only have 2 portfolio-worthy prints. By that ratio I should have had about 6. Don't sweat it, without the pain of having an off day you'd never be able to appreciate those days when everythihng just works so smoothly and precisely in your favour. As your quote suggests "nothing worth doing is ever easy".
     
  8. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    4,350
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Location:
    Montréal (QC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hey, at least you learned a lot and you ended up with good prints!

    I usually split my darkroom sessions between quick and good. Sometimes I just need to have a stack of prints from my last negatives. So I look at my contact sheets, eyeball the exposure based on experience, and process in batch. I have a lot of prints, but they are only "good enough." I use them to judge composition, subject, etc etc. My processing workflow is very consistent now, so I can pretty much print an entire 35mm roll decently without constantly making test strips.

    Once I'm over with those, I have another session, where I try to do my best. I usually work with fiber paper then, and do all the careful fiddling I need to.
     
  9. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

    Messages:
    3,894
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2003
    Location:
    Middle Engla
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Two in one evening, that's speed, :surprised: I normally take a week to do one. :smile:
     
  10. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

    Messages:
    2,894
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2003
    Location:
    Kansas, USA
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    No way! Stuff happens, and sometimes (often) it takes a while. I've spent at least 3 hours on just one print a few times.
     
  11. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

    Messages:
    2,411
    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Location:
    Van Buren, A
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    You know, if you print regularly, and use and "learn" one film and developer combination, you can get quite fast, .......but darkroom printing is a skill picked up by frequent repetition. Also, there is a difference between making the "ultimate" print and making satisfactory prints. I used to print a lot of 5x7 b/w RC paper prints from customer 35mm b/w negatives. I could print perhaps 25 prints per hour, but they were only satisfactory, but good enough for reproduction in a company newsletter. I would expose and print and develop in batches of 8 to 10 prints. When I'm doing "fine art" exhibition quality prints for myself, whenever I get an image I am satisfied with, I always make 2 or 3 identical prints. Never know when you might need another (or sell one). If the dodging and burning, etc., is complicated I take notes and keep the notes with the negative for future reprint. Nothing stresses out a darkroom session like using a temporary space and feeling like you are holding up someone else from using the space (bathroom). Much more relaxed if you have a dedicated darkroom.
     
  12. Simon R Galley

    Simon R Galley Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,052
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2005
    Location:
    Cheshire UK
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Its not as easy as it looks......I got pretty good, but I had to, I averaged 1,200 prints per week commercially! : Perhaps I can help, pm me your home address and I will send you the ILFORD Multigrade Manual...should help a little bit....

    Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited :
     
  13. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

    Messages:
    2,248
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2006
    Location:
    Portland OR
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I get in and make work prints of all the stuff that looks like it has potential. Sometimes a test then a print and sometimes just a print no test. Then I use old dead mats and display the prints for awhile in my work space and look at them in different light. Eventually I get tired of some and get an idea of what I want others to look like. Then take the prints back to the darkroom and make a better print using the work print as a reference. When I know exactly what I want I can make a print in less than a half hour. Knowing what you want is the hard part.
    Dennis
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. panastasia

    panastasia Member

    Messages:
    625
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2007
    Location:
    Dedham, Ma,
    Shooter:
    Med. Format Pan
    I can relate to your experience.

    For me it's all about mood, sometimes my mood isn't right and I struggle to finish. I had the same experience when I was building field stone walls - I was younger - if my mood was good I could fly through the process of fitting stones (right brain, spacial stuff) and really impress myself. Then there were days when I couldn't see hardly anything going into place and much time would pass..
     
  16. CBG

    CBG Member

    Messages:
    894
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'd say the way to get the most great prints as fast as possible is to slow down and just get one really good one at it's own pace.....

    C
     
  17. Davesw

    Davesw Member

    Messages:
    70
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2007
    Location:
    Aptos Califo
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    In my last 4 hour session I got 2 ok prints and one I realy like.(A new record for me) forgot to stop down twice after foucusing!
    I am going through paper way to fast. need to improve test strip/VC filter selection prosess.
     
  18. sausage100uk

    sausage100uk Member

    Messages:
    67
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2007
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I have yet to get a print i really like, I am struggling with spotty negs and dust on the carrier glass....grrrrrrrrr
     
  19. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,045
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    This is what the postcard exchange is for. Get one right, and if you are consistent, another 30 or so follow thereafter :smile:.

    Matt

    P.S. Two in a three hour session sounds good to me.
     
  20. Rob Archer

    Rob Archer Member

    Messages:
    517
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2003
    Location:
    King's Lynn,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I sometimes get a couple of prints that I'm happy with in a evening - but in the cold light of day the next morning........!

    I used to bash away in desperation, try this, try that... More recently I've tried to be a bit more methodical and evaluate the print at every step. I've also started making notes on the back of work prints, which (when I can find them!) really helps with repeats.

    If I can get 10 -12 good prints and one excellent one in a year I'm satisfied.

    Rob
     
  21. Maris

    Maris Member

    Messages:
    891
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2006
    Location:
    Noosa, Australia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've done worse. Contacting a 8x10 negative once gave me a gelatin-silver that looked so good that I nearly choked on a gasp. And my eyes nearly fell out into the fixer.

    But that was not good enough. What if I nudge the contrast? What if there is a better density balance between richness and luminosity? And so on. Twenty five sheets of paper and five hours later I think I'm working in circles so I spread out all 25 photographs and have a seriously hard look.

    Yep, number one was the best and everything else was a variation on ok. To save the investment in time, effort and resources I kept the entire set and use it to show people who have never made a photograph the seriously arbitrary connection between camera work (camera play?) and the final picture.
     
  22. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

    Messages:
    1,954
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2005
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I think that is pretty good. If you think about the amount of time looking at a print that is framed and put on the wall, spending 2 weeks to get it just right would be fine. I have about 100 prints on the walls in my office and never remember how long it took once it gets on the wall. However, sometimes I don't spend enough time and put one on the wall that really isn't good enough and regret that I did not spend longer.

    In my view, if you can generate one excellent print working in a bathroom darkroom in a month, you should be commended.
     
  23. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You are actually doing well to get two nice prints in such a short time. Sounds more like bragging than complaining! I would be leery of paying good money to have one of my pix printed if I thought the printer was moving as fast as you did!

    :wink:

    Come back and repost your new experiences once you have spent a month's worth of time trying to get contrast masks just right on an expensive series of 16x20 Ilfochrome prints! Then you will understand frustration.....and why on Earth good, hand-made, individually unique analog photos ought command such high prices.

    At least you have your own pix to print. It is such a hassle printing other people's film for them. You have no control over what they hand you. It doesn't matter what you *would have, could have, should have* done differently in camera and processing. You've got what you've got, and you've got to make it work with whatever that is. You are expected to be able to turn $hit into gold. Printing other people's screwed up film just stresses how important it is to get your own personal techniques nailed down. It also gives you tons of practice in the most challenging of printing situations, so that when it comes to your own work, it is a breeze, and FUN, like it should be!

    So, just keep printing. Do a little every day if you can. You will get *better*, and that is the key; not necessarily *faster*.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 21, 2008
  24. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

    Messages:
    683
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2006
    Location:
    Oklahoma, US
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    I just returned from the community darkroom I teach at. I spent 3 hours and finished (4) 8x10 prints of the same 645 negative. Each print a variation but good enough to hang. I will let the prints dry at home and decide which one to tone and wash for permanence.

    I often can get to a very good print within 15 min if I enlarge to 5x7 and use familiar paper from average negatives. Moving up in size, change paper, or have a negative difficult to print and you slow down.

    At the end of the day craft takes time. A few FINE prints in 3 hours is not so bad. :D
     
  25. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    7,076
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Location:
    Basin and Range Province
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    It can easily take an hour or so to dial in a good print for the first time. More if counting set up. That's why when I get it, I usually print more than one. Not because I can't come back and print more with little difficulty once I have the notes, but to help make me feel a little bit more productive.
     
  26. Edwardv

    Edwardv Member

    Messages:
    397
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2005
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I like to pick 5-10 negatives, run an exposure test with the setting of grade 2, select the best exposure, print from the selected exposure, process and dry. I will look at the test prints determine what needs to be done for the final print. Another thing I do is when I a final print I will take 1 or 2 negatives run a test for later on. I find these methods helps me save time.