Making Prints

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by photomc, Jun 14, 2004.

  1. photomc

    photomc Member

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    While working on some negatives yesterday, started to wonder how long each of you spend working on a given negative? In other words, how long do you work with a negative, before you set is aside or just flat give up on it?
     
  2. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Mike,
    For me that depends on the photograph. The short answer is until I am satisfied with the print. I find that sometimes I have set a negative aside and returned to it much later. In the interim I may have learned some technique that allows me to create the photograph that I want.
     
  3. geraldatwork

    geraldatwork Member

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    I think it depends on a few factors. One how much I like the photo, how important it is to me. The other how difficult it is to print. One is related to the other. Generally with a decent negative (one reasonably easy to print) I'll do a work print and evaluate it. Usually with one or two test strips and one or two full size enlargements I'll arrive at a decent work print. From there I'll evaluate what needs to be done and I'll arrive at a print I'm happy with with a few more attempts.

    For more difficult to print negatives of prints I feel important I'll work as Don mentioned above. I'll do the best I can and go back to it a few months later. Unfortunately my favorite negative is under exposed by at least a stop and needs a lot of burning and dodging. I've gotten to the point where it is decent but still needs some improvement.
     
  4. jovo

    jovo Membership Council

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    My wife, a professional artist and very good photographer as well, tells me I need to spend more time letting the prints I make incubate after doing my best with them initially. She's right (I learned to say, "Yes dear" in any case ;-).) and I do wait awhile now before deciding i'm done with one. In the interim, I set it in a mat and frame it (holding it in place with the pressure of the glass) and put it where I can look at it as often as possible. With time, I find I have insights I could not have had at first.

    Since photographs are so much easier to produce than oil paintings for instance, it seems quite natural to grind them out quickly. Realizing just how much control we actually do have though, is a big step toward 'making' a photograph rather than simply 'taking' one.
     
  5. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    It all depends on the negative. Some negatives need nothing more than determining exposure and contrast grade. Sometimes I don't even need a test strip but know from the contact print or sheet what is correct.

    Most of mine will require some work with split filtering, burning, dodging etc. I tend to expose a lot of film of scenes with a wide sbr so even with a compensating developer, some manipulation is required.

    A few are poorly exposed or developed but contain an image that I want to salvage. I usually go through a lot of time, paper and frustration. Maybe I get the print I want but many times I kick myself in the rear for being careless about technique and try to learn from my mistakes.

    Finally there are certain negatives that can be printed or interpreted a variety of ways and I sometimes revisit them with a new approach or with input from a critique that encourages me to explore the negative further.

    I think many are so competent and comfortable with technique that most of their negatives print easily with modest adjustments during printing. They can produce beautiful prints easily because of the care and experience on the film side of the equation.
     
  6. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    Boy, I agree with this! There are some negatives I have that I just love but have a difficult time returning that affection to me. There's one in particular... It's a church steeple, great clouds, nice definition, but I must go though all kinds of machinations to get the blasted thing to print like I know it should look! I can spend hours in my darkroom with one or two prints, but mostly, I will only endure the frustration for so long that I just say "Ok, that's enough...for now." I still go back to it, but I wait, take notes (copious notes) and see if I can figure it out! One of these days, I'll post some of these devils so you all can help me figure out how to *exercise the demons*! haha :D
    Jeanette
     
  7. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Thanks to everyone for your reply..

    Donald, as always your advice is solid and sound.

    This is what I have been doing recently, just seems like more negatives are not simple to print. Many seem to require extra effort to get get the feeling I'm after. I tend to think the negatives aren't where I want them, OR my expectations are not what they should be.

    Thanks again to everyone for you thoughts.
     
  8. Francesco

    Francesco Member

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    If printing a certain negative makes you sweat beads then for me that means that it should be binned - i.e. the info is not there or is too hidden to be coaxed out.
     
  9. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    Awwww come on! If it were easy, it'd be digital! :tongue: haha!
    Jeanette
     
  10. mobtown_4x5

    mobtown_4x5 Member

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    I've been kinda wondering about this too, most of my negatives used to require hours of darkroom struggles and sheets and sheets of paper to print decent... but my most recent negs (and the one that I submitted to the exchange) printed beautifully with no dodges/burns. I tried a few things, but the "straight" print was the best - sweet and easy!
    So, does this mean my technique is improving, or just a coincidence? Should I discard the negs that won't print like this, as inferior exposures?

    Matt
     
  11. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    I tend to be a quick printer, making prints from what I think are the most interesting negatives almost immediately they are processed and dry. I also decide very quickly how I want the print to look and set about using the necessary methods of manipulation needed to produce what I want. I'm of the view that if the information is on the negative I will put it on to the paper and if it is difficult there is a way to do it.

    I produce a high contrast negative when I can to enable me to best use my method of split grade printing and using post flashing techniques for any really difficult highlights. If the negative is low in contrast I use grades 4 and 5 to produce the contrast to give me the seperation needed to give the print some luminosity. I don't like to be beaten by any negative and I guess that this competitive streak in my drives me on to make the print and to that end I set myself targets. No matter what the problems are I aim to make the finished print in 20 to 30 minutes, even if I'm printing that negative for the first time.
     
  12. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    I recently sorted through 20 years of negs to print a portfolio. Some negatives that I had bypassed or given up on made it to the final 12. Vision changes and so do materials and skills. What is the longest I have worked on a negative to get it right? Probably a couple of days, but don't force it. Average is 2-3 hours, but it had better be worth it. If it doesn't excite you, you'll never get it. Put it down and print something that excites you. It that doesn't exist, try rephotographing a place that excited you, but the negatives just weren't that good.
     
  13. Francesco

    Francesco Member

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    Matt, congratulations. In my opinion what has happened is that, intentionally or otherwise, you are now making negatives that match the density range of the paper/papers you are using. It should be easy!