How long after you produce a negative do you print it?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by brian steinberger, Apr 21, 2011.

  1. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    I've been thinking about this for the last week or so. I frequently "live" with negatives for up to a year until I print them. Along with contact sheets I also scan all my negatives and frequently view them on the computer screen. As time goes by certain photographs stay great and others I lose interest in. This helps me to thin out the keepers. I'll then begin to think of how I want to create a final print.

    Recently though I've been printing negatives taken within the past month. I like working this way, the photograph is still fresh in my mind. Also the negative is new and clean and more free of dust than a negative that's been in storage for a year or so. The downside of this approach though is that I may end up spending hours on prints of negatives that I'm excited about now but may not hold my attention months and years down the road.

    Thoughts? What's your approach?
     
  2. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    I've got six two inch binders full of negs that haven't been printed, going back 10 years. Hopefully I get to them this summer in my new darkroom.
     
  3. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    This is a great question. I think everyone's in the darkroom tonight printing their recent negs.
     
  4. Laurent

    Laurent Subscriber

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    It really depends on the negatives... my most successful ones are usually printed very soon after shooting them. But I may "discover" an image one year later (longer than that, I'll usually get bored before getting the right print)
     
  5. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    Usually wait at least 6 months if not longer. Worked that way for years. I make a contact sheet and file them away. The time factor gives me the o pportunity to view the negative with fresh ideas.
     
  6. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    At one time I print shortly after develope the negative, now it is a little longer.

    Jeff
     
  7. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    Photography is a process of discovery for me. I see something that interests me. If the interest is strong enough I photograph it. I sometimes have a "feeling" that the image is beyond the ordinary, in which case I am compelled to develop the negatives and make contact prints as soon as I can. If the "feeling" is still there, I am anxious to make a fine print from the negative as soon as possible. If at any point in the process the "feeling" diminishes, I stop. Or maybe put it away for later investigation.
     
  8. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    When I was in school and shot film for the sports, I would usually print it within two hours of developing it; as soon as it could be dry, which I'd hurry along with warm air or alcohol.

    Now that I'm on my own schedule, I like to print within a month or so of the date of capture. I do digital and film and it sometimes take a month for me to get through batches of images on the computer and upload a subset to the web. In the darkroom, I like to develop when I have enough to make it worthwhile; 2+ 120 rolls or 4+ sheets of 4x5, etc... I'm not going to spend an hour to develop one negative. When I'm testing something like a new film/developer combination, I need to process reasonably quickly so I can have the feedback to refine my results. When I'm shooting something new and expect to go back for more and better, I like to process before I go back for the feedback.

    I print in a separate darkroom session. I usually get started making contact prints of the past month's negatives, and upon getting caught up with that, I start printing enlargements of 35/120/4x5 or quality contact prints of the LF stuff. I don't really need to print for feedback; a look at the negative provides 90% of what I need. Sometimes though what looked like a questionable negative turns out really really great and I'm glad to have gotten around to printing it. I don't immediately print everything that looks printable. I have to pick a subset of keepers and print them, mostly for the sake of time and expense. Sometimes when I have some extra time at the end of a session of making contact prints, though I'll also page back a few months and find something interesting which I hadn't printed and make a print of it while my chemicals are still all out, and that's fun too. Some of the rejects go in the trash, some go to my 5yo daughter for crafts/coloring.

    Of the outputted prints, most just get appreciated by flipping through the stacks. Some make it to a box to potentially be framed. A subset of these get framed, again for the sake of time and expense.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2011
  9. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    As soon as possible. That ranges from 6 hours for the negatives to dry to 20 years.

    In Lee Friedlander's recent retrospective catalog there is a statement that he was about 4 years behind in printing.
     
  10. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    Days. Years.
     
  11. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    Somewhere between fifteen minutes and 50 years.

    I often find I have beginners' luck with printing, where first good print I make from a negative is the best print I ever make.

    Other images seem to improve each time I print them.

    I do notice that the more I fuss with making a dozen prints of a negative, each print differing a 1/10th of a stop here and there, the more worthless the image.

    If it is a good image it just falls into place on the first or second print. Metering gets around the first 'work prints', so I suppose it would be "falls into place by the 3rd or 4th print" if I were working conventionally.
     
  12. Maris

    Maris Member

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    Weeks to months, deliberately.

    I want the initial charm of the subject matter to fade so I can look at the final photographs with a "cold" eye. This is how other people, who weren't there for the camera-work, will see them.
     
  13. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Sometimes the same day, other times 30 years later...
     
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  15. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I'm impatient. Usually, I process my film the same day or the next. (usually the same day). Contact sheets are made within a week but usually in next few days. First test print either the same day of contact sheet or in next week or so.

    But... once I get make full size test prints, I wait until the next day to make changes. Otherwise, I find myself wasting lots of sheets only to find out I don't like the result next day or go back to the very first version.
     
  16. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Haaaaa, Nicholas, I know what you mean.

    You probably have a negative like mine (Tokopah falls in ice) that captured what you saw but is defiant on paper.

    I have never successfully printed that negative. It is the exasperation of printing that one negative that has led me down the road of Zone system and all other controls.
     
  17. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Sometimes a very, very, very, very, very long time. Or, more often, never.

    I do it very quickly (sometimes same day) if I have a specific task. At this time, that usually involves shooting Rollei copy film in D-19 and making halftone lithos from it to burn on to silk screens or cyanotypes. It is not a very exacting process making black-or-clear lithos from black-or-clear film, so it is easy to move quickly and be OK with some slop.
     
  18. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I very rarely manage to develop my film within even a week of shooting it. I frequently have film sitting in a camera with several shots remaining, too, and sometimes don't remember what I shot at the start of the roll. I don't look at them often once I have them developed and contact printed, but I'll scan through the contact sheet and see what jumps out. I've usually lost the feeling of that day by then and can just look at which ones look to be good for themselves and not just good because I remember what it took to get them. Once I do a work print, then I wait awhile to see if/how I still like the image before I try to do a "real" print. Which frequently never happens.
     
  19. NDP_2010

    NDP_2010 Member

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    I only have limited experince, but most of the time i print the same day. Maybe 10-15 photos. If I run out things to do I may come back to the ones I skipped over previously. :smile:
     
  20. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I don't do my own darkroom work I use a pro lab but I usually send them off within a a couple of shooting them and have them back about ten days later
     
  21. JerseyDoug

    JerseyDoug Member

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    I usually print my own negatives within a few weeks. But I am now printing some negatives that my father shot in 1938 and told me he never printed.
     
  22. R gould

    R gould Member

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    I don't print a negative for at least 6 months after taking,that way I come to the negative with fresh eyes and feelings, If I print too soon after I take the negative I very often struggle with it, leave it a while and come back to it and I produce a better print, I have negatives taken years ago still waiting to be printed, and sometimes I wonder if I will ever print them,
    Richard
     
  23. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    sometimes years, sometimes days
     
  24. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    Days, months, years...

    I move around a lot so my access to a darkroom comes and goes. I started shooting black and white 6 years ago and I still have negs that I have never had the chance to print, other than contact sheets, often because I'm excited about the newer ones I've more recently shot.
     
  25. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    The thought of having some negs that may never get printed is something I relate to greatly. I feel so overwhelmed sometimes having so many negs that deserve to be printed that I've produced over the years. But when a fine print is finally accomplished it is an amazing feeling.
     
  26. Wade D

    Wade D Member

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    If I see a negative that stands out after processing I usually make an 8x10 the next day. The 8x10's get pinned up on a bulletin board so I can see them readily and if the impact lasts then a refined print is made. This may take a few days or many weeks.