I'M EXHAUSTED, but so pleased.

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by inthedark, Apr 30, 2004.

  1. inthedark

    inthedark Member

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    Well, it has been a busy spring for me. I have been bringing the entirety of my aerial shop home and that entailed designing a "shed," and having to deal with all of the water issues and lighting and everything. It has been non-stop for over 5 weeks with a VERY capable hired hand. The actual shop was built by a construction contractor but so much of the prep and finish work were left to be done by me and my hand to save money cause we all know how anyone connected with photography stretches a buck. . . we jurry rig! Plus I had an unbelievable amount of business this past month (yeah! not complaining, just really tired.)

    Anyway last night at about 1:00 am was baptism. First print in the new shop. Well, I have to say it is sooooooo sweet. Jeez I am one lucky girl, and love my job!

    Anyway, I notice right off one huge improvement that I think I know the answer to, but I am curious as to others comments or ideas. I'll try to list the variables that I noticed were different. So the print last night here versus the prints over the past five years at the old shop were so much better for range of tones, (these are archival films and are b&w). The whites were cleaner yet had more information, and the darks were rich but didn't overpower the subtly paler darks. It even looks more "silvery" for lack of a better word.

    Variables:

    1. The new shop doesn't have effective heat yet and the temperatures of the chemistry was just barely in useable range (I use Agfa and the low end on that is 78) and I adjusted with longer time.

    2. The chemistry was new, but it was new at the old shop at least once a week. Otherwise the measurements etc were identical except for one thing and that would be the water itself. At the old shop the water was so bad, I would use distilled water for the developer, but I really didn't for stop bath, rinses, or fixes. Here the water is better so I used it across the board including the developer.

    3. I love my new shop, and the freedom it will give me to expand the quality of my life and finances, and even give me time to expand my customer base. Maybe kharma is better?!?

    4. The camera is essentially the same but I do have newer electrical and dedicated such that when my neighbors turn on their things my lights don't dim. In the old shop, they did dim sometimes.


    Other than the above I can't off hand think of what might have been different.

    Well, as I get engery again and find new and worth mentioning stuff, I will try to tell the story of the move and how things are going and what I totally screwed up on, etc.

    Anyway, now you know why I have been absent for so long. The move only entailed activity for the past 6 weeks, but the planning and looking at options, and trying to be sure that at this point I didn't have too many oops's to tend, took long and lots. But gosh I know so much about so much now that I didn't know then.

    Hopin' you all have the greatest of weekends! TGIF!
     
  2. inthedark

    inthedark Member

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    OOPS, that is supposed to read 78.

    And I just thought of another variable.

    5. The shop being cooler maintained a much cooler light deck than usual. The calibrating necessary to scale aerial film to plans can take a while and warm the lights a bit, well, at least in the old shop.
     
  3. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Congrats on the new shop! I'll be looking forward to the Shop Saga!
     
  4. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Every darkroom has a distinct personality of its own - just as most of the other stuff in photography. I've had visitors who are appalled with the light leaks in mine.

    One unconsciously compensates ... I probably have a set of learned reflexes that I follow that allow me to produce good work (before anyone starts -- yes, to ME) in spite of the light leaks. If I worked in a darkroom without them ... it is different ... and I would have to work differently to get back to the same place.

    I'm a little surprised that no one here has mentioned "sequestering agents" - chemicals added to commercial developers to compensate for impurities in the water used to mix them. There was a discussion, many moons ago, where some suggested that distilled water was not a good thing in all cases, as the "sequestering agents" would have nothing to act upon, and therefore the overall performance of the developer would be, actually, reduced.

    I think that the most important deal in processing is not "perfection", but "stability." As long as things do not change we can learn to deal with them. Moving targets are tough.
     
  5. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    A little while ago I innaugurated my home darkroom, and experienced the same things you mentioned. Coming from a college darkroom, my variables were greater in number (the paper being the only constant, actually).
    I moved from condensers to a color head, developers were switched (switched again today) and my entire work ethic suffered a major revolution.

    But I think that being able to work without people screwing up the chemistry, competing for space and creasing your prints was the major beneficial change for me. Not to mention being able to listen to N.P.R. or one of my CDs.

    And now my prints look gentler than before, and being more hands-on makes them feel more "mine" if that makes sense.

    In anycase, congratulations!
     
  6. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Congratulations on a job well done! I was told by a contractor, about 35 years ago while hitch hiking across the US, that a woman can have babies, but a man can't experience this process. His statement was that the closest thing a male can come to this process is to create something of lasting value, to build. It sounds as if you now have the best of both worlds.

    On a side note, Gordon Hutchings mentioned last weekend that he was building a new darkroom. His idea for a sink I found to be a bit on the novel side. It was to make the sink out of wood and then have it sprayed with "Rhino liner" as a coating. This is the rubberized stuff they spray truck beds with. I thought it was an excellent idea.

    Anyway, congratulations on a great task. There is a wonderful sense of satisfaction involved in planning, building and then using something you have made.
     
  7. inthedark

    inthedark Member

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    Ed, I didn't read THAT post about the distilled water. Hmmmm. Well, now I wonder. I think I will test that next week. I still have a few light leaks and still managed fine this morning when the sun came up. But I think that with the production level I keep up, I will be fixing that.

    Noseoil, I think you just hit me one the head. I build like a man, and have kids like a woman. Thank you, a well received comment on my end. :smile:

    Andre, I bought this shop in June of 2001 from two old guys. I knew nothing about photography, nothing about aerial mapping, nothing about pre-press negatives or halftones. But I saw these two cameras, and I said to myself, "man, I could have some kind of fun with these!" and I have never looked back. GOD, I LOVE MY JOB! I got 30 half days of "training" and handed the keys.

    So I don't understand most of the time what you all are talking about in your darkrooms, because mine is just so different. And I guess I have been told you all don't usually understand what I am talking about. BUT...
    I can certainly imagine the annoyance level I would experience if I had to share my darkroom with anyone whom I wasn't in charge of, ie an employee or one of my children. I have thought maybe to take a photo class at the local university, but I don't know. I have seen great "by ear" musicians kind of loose their . . . . awesomeness, when they tried to go back and get a formal education.


    I'm so sorry, I probably sound like I'm gloating but honestly I am just so pleased that everything has gone so smoothly. So far not one thing has shown itself as a problem. So my relief at not having the usual problems with moves this size has turned to extreme JOY!

    By the way, I am never behind the camera the way you folks are. I am a darkroom craftswoman, not a photographer, per se. I think with Donald Miller's and Ed Sukach's occasional guidance I am starting to grasp some what is discussed here.

    Well, clearly I have been a bit talkative tonight. So for now I will go. Get some rest. Unload boxes tomorrow. I hope I will have a chance to really tell of the move in a cohesive manner some day, but right now it is all pudding. By the way if you want to better understand the cameras, go to

    http://www.acticameras.com/products.htm

    I have two Camera/Projectors as my mainstay.
     
  8. Jorge Oliveira

    Jorge Oliveira Member

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    Karma helps a lot!
    And a new darkroom increases anyone karma.

    One day I might get a real one...

    Jorge O
     
  9. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    And I haven't seen anything in formal (artistic) education which differs too greatly from trial and error (keep in mind I'm in a community college right now). Most of the theory one can learn alone, and the rest can only be learned by doing. In my case, a formal education in photography will (hopefully) do 2 things: Keep me shooting & give me a nice pretty piece of paper with my name on it. Knowledge is aquired by the student, not given by an institution.

    So, whatever it is that you do, keep doing it for as long as you're happy with it. You have my blessing, even though you didn't ask for it and I have no earthly idea as to what you do with those process cameras.

    :smile:
     
  10. inthedark

    inthedark Member

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    Thank you for your blessing.

    The copy cameras and their 8 enlarging lenses, make it possible for me to shoot negatives up to 24 x36 inches or enlarge from negatives up to 12" x 18" and print sizes up to 50" x 100" AND enlargements from 10% to 4000% (4000% is taking a 35mm negative and printing it straight to 36 x 48). BUT it is important to remember that I bought a business that USED to provide 90% of the pre-press negatives for the region. they collapsed when they didn't go digital. I simply fell in love with the cameras and have tweeked them into color and b&w photographic enlargers. When I bought the shop the aerial prints were printed using a little 10 x 10 box enlarger with a series of mirrors and four pieces of glass against a copy board that had window plastic as the overlay. Really ugly. And the copy cameras were virtually untouched anymore. Once or twice a month maybe.

    So I designed and had the Acti people make a bunch of upgrades to handle aerial film. Then I re-created my light decks a couple of times till I had good color printing while maintaining a 20x24 inch cool (here I mean cool to the touch) light source (dichroic doesn't come this large in a reasonable price.) And the Acti allows me to be virtually glassless. The only interference from the negative to the print is the lens and the copyboard glass which is this spendy super clear stuff. The Acti is also micrometer trammed to guarantee that the corners of the vacuum chase back for the negative, the lens board, and the vacuum back copy board are "perfectly" parallel eliminating corner blur entirely.

    And honestly since the only other enlarger I have used is the little box one, so I find the speed and ease of use of these cameras is sooooo time saving. I mean I can print over 100 prints a day even if they are from different rolls of film, different scales, b&w or color. Virtually no cleaning between shots, no delays from for re-focusing because the micrometers allow for focusing once, recording the readings, then anytime I have for example Kodak 2444 film and want a 1000% enlargement, I just slap it into place and do a quick double check on the focus. Also because of the way the copy board is a pass through rather than solid, I focus with a 35x loupe right on the surface that the emulsion touches. Not reflected and hopefully close to the right plane for the emulsion. God I love my cameras.

    Anyway, I have to get back to setting up the office here. Thank you again for your interest and blessings.
     
  11. Jorge Oliveira

    Jorge Oliveira Member

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    Hello, Inthedark

    I understand there's something different between your setup and my amateur 35mm (Opemus 6 enlarger) setup.

    Could you pls elaborate a little bit?

    Thanks,

    Jorge O
     
  12. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Jorge thats like the difference between a Ford Escort and an Indy race car! ;-)
     
  13. Jorge Oliveira

    Jorge Oliveira Member

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    Thanks, Gary

    I just happen to know (and fairly well) why an race car is better than an Escort.
    Now, why is the 35mm/6x6 inferior (and I do not mean neg area).

    Jorge O
     
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  15. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Actually the most important difference between her equipment and yours is hers is production copy equipment. The frames are much sturdier and more accurately aligned and the lighting possibly more uniform. Shes using copy cameras converted into enlargers, and the copy lenses are probably a heck of a lot better than the average enlarging lens and that plus the design of the copy cameras means she can make really big copy negatives, really big prints and quite a bit more than either of us can do.
    Now as far as your Opemus 6 being inferior, thats a bum idea. It's designed to do what you want it to and do it quite well. You wouldn't drive an Indy car to work would you? Same idea, your enlarger is designed for your environment, not hers so it's like apples and oranges.
    Personally I'd like to play with the equipment at her shop (I used to run a copy camera so I know how they work), but I'd still want my trusty old Beseler at home for my own work, wouldn't you?
    Maybe Inthedark can post some pictures of her setup when the dust settles, I'd be fascinated to see it.
     
  16. inthedark

    inthedark Member

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    Jorge O,

    glbeas expained it pretty well. It is like having Indy cars compared to escorts, BUT since my job is like being an indy driver, they are appropriate to my needs.

    I will try to get some pictures taken here soon. 1000 sq feet of black bliss. Lighting it to photograph well be a challenge. Not up my alley, I light copy boards, not rooms.
     
  17. inthedark

    inthedark Member

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    Good Morning Everyone,

    How have all of your summers been? Mine was . . .BUSY. After my last post the shop and aspects of sewer alternative that I chose had one crisis after another. Then in August, just as I was finally getting everything squared away again, the puter crashed. And wouldn't you know I had to run production every single day as well. (I should have just shut down for two weeks when I moved, but I didn't) So I now have had two whole weeks without crisis wherein I have gotten the inside of the house back up to snuff and the yard is going to have to wait till spring.

    Anyway, I have missed you all and the lively conversations on the site.
     
  18. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Congratulations!!! I'll dream on.... :smile:
     
  19. Art Vandalay

    Art Vandalay Member

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    Hello Inthedark - which is exactly how I felt when I read your posting. I'm new here and totally confused about what an 'aerial shop' is supposed to be - do you sell antennas? :smile: I take it that you are at least a professional printer but are you a portrait photographer as well? Please fill me in as I'm a bit intrigued.
     
  20. inthedark

    inthedark Member

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    Hi Art,

    I print aerial photography. This is direct overhead vertical photography on rolls 9" wide and 300 ft long. I do not take the negs, a professional pilot does that, then I get the film and print it for years and years and folks need archival information.

    I am not a photographer of any variety. I am a very skilled printer of photographic meda with equipment that is just right for aerial and pre-press, making it a ferrari or jaguar for printing normal stuff that photographers put out.
     
  21. Art Vandalay

    Art Vandalay Member

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    Cool! I was thinking aerial photography but you didn't have any in your gallery so I wasn't sure. I took a course on interpreting aerial photos and loved it. As an aside, I'm not sure if anyone has seen Emmet Gowin's book of aerial photos (Changing the Earth
    ) but it's worth it. The toned images are quite stunning and so different than his earlier work of his wife's family.

    Inthedark - it's good to hear that you have not been replaced by a drum scanner :smile: I'm glad that your business has increased - it must be very rewarding.
     
  22. inthedark

    inthedark Member

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    Art, I own most of the archival film for the immediate area, so business should stay good. I always say that the "meat and potatoes" provided by the aerial photography makes it possible for me to take on "regular" photographers at a very reasonable price, well, okay, the ease of my equipment also makes my job easier than just about anywhere else which also keeps the price down.

    My goal is to be the last standing LF&ULF ANALOG shop in Idaho, and maybe the entire NW. And having cameras that can print 36"x48" from a regular 400ASA 35mm neg, should keep me way ahead of the usual pack.
     
  23. scootermm

    scootermm Subscriber

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    inthedark
    Im curious. I just read this whole thread and still have a couple questions for you.
    what purpose does archival aerial photography serve? is it a surveying thing? geological? or am I completely off base and lacking any comprehension of what your business is? I understood you as saying you also do enlarging for people. but Im just very curious about the aerial part... very intriguing. and congratulations on the constant business and I hope things continue to go wonderfully for you.
     
  24. inthedark

    inthedark Member

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    I bought the business from fellows who say it is "originally" used to map with, then as archival film it seems to be used for design and planning rather than surveying, environmental site asessments, legal exhbits relating to automobile accidents, and some places just want to count how many rooftops are in an area to see if it is worth extending a franchise. Now the mapping is done almost entirely digitally, but these archival issues seem fairly ongoing.
     
  25. Terry Hayden

    Terry Hayden Member

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    Hello all,

    I just recently joined this forum, and noticed this thread.

    I don't know if there is really any interest in it, but:

    I've been in photogrammetry ( topographic mapping using aerial photos) for
    over 25 years ( oh man, that's a long freakin' time...).

    The pirmary use for the aerials that inthedark describes was for this purpose. They are generally shot in stereo ( 60%) forward ( along the flight line) overlap. We use the hard copy photos in whats called an analytical stereoplotter and scans of the negs in whats called a softcopy stereoplotter.

    Lots of geometery and other stuff, but the idea is that we look at one photo with one eye and its overlapped mate with the other - stereo viewing. By working with a land surveyor ( who puts out crosses - either painted or plastic) in the scene to be mapped. He then gives us coordinates ( x,y,z) of these targets. We can then relate the photos to each other and the ground coordinate system. They are then measurable.

    We have archive photos of our area going back 30 years. There is a market for them, but it is not terribly active hereabouts.

    So, there's a lot of trivia for your distraction.

    Hope it helps rather than confuses.

    Oh, yeah, the other varialbe in the lab is that we use 10x10 Saltzman enlargers. They can tip and tilt the negative to re-create the attitude of the
    aircraft at the time of exposure. This corrects for perspective displacement from that tip & tilt.

    Later,
    Terry
     
  26. inthedark

    inthedark Member

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    Terry, I don't use the tilt and tip because although it corrects perspective, I affects the focus and for the site assessments, focus is key. However, the previous owners were photogrametrists (?), and did have one of those cameras, I think, prior to downsizing (selling everything they could get out of the door on Ebay) and then selling to me.