Maturing Prints?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Thomas Bertilsson, Jun 21, 2007.

  1. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I often times run across a dilemma before I print negatives, especially people photography. I develop my negatives, make sure I do it right, and then I look at them briefly, and store them in a binder. Then I take them out every once in a while, letting the impression of it sort of soak in.
    I cannot take the negative to the darkroom and print it and do well until the impression has sunk in, making sure I understand my 'image'. If I try prematurely I fail miserably. Now this presents an interesting problem, especially with people photography - they usually want feedback and results instantly. Yesterday I printed a negative that had sat for nine months. I hadn't been ready until then.
    How do you react to this? What is your method? Can you develop a neg, and as soon as it dries, you start printing?

    Thankful for some elaboration on this. Am I the weird odd ball, or are there more people like me :confused:

    - Thomas
     
  2. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    My printing is rarely done immediately after a negative is developed. Certainly not in the same evening. Usually, it takes me a week or two (most of the time, it's longer than that) to get around to printing.
     
  3. Mike Té

    Mike Té Subscriber

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    Why not go a step further and contact proof them, Thomas? Might be a different starting point for the "soaking-in" process and might lead you a better (or at least faster) decision process. I proof all, print few and hang them up somewhere. In my case, looking at the prints for a while (weeks sometimes) leads me to understand how I want to "adjust" them.
     
  4. Bill Mobbs

    Bill Mobbs Member

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    I contact print my negatives immediately. Then make straight prints of those that show promise. I then stick the print on the wall of my office where I will have to look at them everyday. Everyday I see new burning and dodging, etc. possiblities and have a pen and paper for notes. Sometimes I print within a few days and sometimes it is months later.
     
  5. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Good ideas, I would like to have been the one to think of those. So I'm not the only one with decision making difficulties, I just have to learn new methods.

    - Thomas
     
  6. light leak

    light leak Member

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    I use the same method as Bill Mobbs. But I've found that the straight prints are good enough for the immediate gratification crowd. It's a recognizable face and because (in my case) it's black and white, it must be "artsy".
     
  7. JLP

    JLP Subscriber

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    I usually scan those negs that i think will be a print at some time. put them on my screen saver at work and let them run for a while.
    There are an occational exceptions but rarely do i go to the darkrom to print right after developing my negs.

    jan
     
  8. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

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    Negatives change while in storage. This is fact. It cannot be disputed. I have had the most fantastic pictures on the back of a groundglass completely ruined through storage. My vision at the time of composition was flawless. The image completely degrades during processing and negative storage to the point where I wonder who in heck came in and substituted my fantastic photograph with this substandard negative in my files? Even more puzzling, is where did that great image I saw go? Who has it? And why are they getting famous with it and not me?
     
  9. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    My experience is just the opposite of Joe's = my negatives seems to improve with storage. A lot of times, I'm stunned by how great a negative has become sitting in a folder for two or three years.
    juan
     
  10. erikg

    erikg Member

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    yeah, i'm often shocked at what a genius i once was!
     
  11. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    It's entertaining how you write the negatives change. That's what I meant originally. I need the idea to settle in my mind before I can go off to print it. It's like a musician thinking about a song in writing. I guess some of the songs just pour onto paper, while others fall into place piece by piece, like a jigsaw puzzle.

    I really don't believe in rushing things along, that's why I like the proof print idea. The screen saver is a nice economical way of doing it.
    I also like to print something, make it a keeper, and come back to print it a couple of years later. That has provided me with much entertainment. Even though I may feel ready to print a negative, it may continue to mature in my mind even beyond that point.

    Thanks for all the good input, it's interesting to learn other people's approach! Keep it coming.

    - Thomas
     
  12. Richard Boutwell

    Richard Boutwell Subscriber

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    I am exactly the opposite. If I don't develop and print as soon as I made the picture then chances are that it will never get printed. Part of that is there are always new nagatives, and the backlog always gets worse. I have actually made it a point to NOT go photographing when I know I wont have time to develop of print the new negatives right awa

    Richard Boutwell
     
  13. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I'm a little in-between. I practically need to force myself to wait long enough for the negatives to dry to make proofs. Then usually there are one or two that I get anxious to enlarge. But after that, I will wait and come back to the proof sheet a few times over several days at least before doing a serious printing session.

    Barry
     
  14. Scott Peters

    Scott Peters Member

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    I will make proofs about a week or so later....mount those that I like and then put them on a rail on the wall for several weeks before I decide they will 'make it' into my portfolio....and while its on the rail I get opinions from family and visitors....if I don't like it, i will mount a photograph on the other side of the matt board, again for a trial run. Obviously, I don't sell these photos with images on the other side....I make another one.
     
  15. Matthew Gorringe

    Matthew Gorringe Member

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    I make proof sheets straight away and then spend time with a pair of right-angled pieces of cardboard going through various cropping possibilities. I guess I would do this on a number of different occasions for the same negs before making the first print.

    8x10 RC prints are made as straight prints like Bill, I don't put them up anywhere but take them out and look through them often. I'll also show them to a mix of photographers and muggles to gauge people's reactions and see if that influences my feelings about the prints. I'm most interested in how the non-photographic people react and will often move a print from the maybe to the yes pile when a number of different people take an interest in it. I never move a print from the yes pile no matter how disinterested people are in it.

    Only about half of those that make it to 8x10 make it any further, usually because a technical issue or "flaw" in the composition. Of those that do make it further I can usually, but not always, make a fine print that I'm happy with.

    I don't think I ever "discover" a neg that I'd previously written off but sometimes I do go back a year or two and print a neg that I personally like but do not consider good/interesting enough for an exhibition quality print.
     
  16. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    Thomas, (I did not read any other replies so this or variations of it may already have been mentioned). But, if i'm going to contemplate an image for a long time, I would rather do it with an enlarged proof.

    Do you at least make contact sheets; I make contact sheets soon after development? I look at my contact sheets to get a feel for any images that I think I may want to carry to the end. I don't fuss to much for the actual making of the proof as I did that during my "EI" and "N" dev testing and it wasn't that much fussing anyway, just some time well spent that pays off.

    I don't know if you have standardized with the zone system or other system, but I know the enlarger height (for 4x5, 5x7, & 8x10 proof prints), f/stop, and exposure time I use to reach maximum black of the paper through a developed but unexposed negative, zone 0 (fb+f). I use this time to expose any negative very quickly for an enlarged proof.

    I don't concern myself with any other aspect of the print as I already know it will receive further refinement. But, it also serves to let you envision those manipulations for as long as you want before making a fine print. It only serves as an initial insight to that image and it is very quick and gives me a print of my work to look at when just relaxing. And when you are ready to attempt the fine print, proceed with your normal methods. Test strip for the best highlight detail, contrast choice, etc.....

    I simply place the negative in the enlarger, set the height for the size proof print I want, focus, set the timer to expose for the minimum time for maximum black (MTMB) of the paper at that enlarger height, and develop.

    Exposing your paper for the MTMB, when you have standardized your EI and Normal dev time, will tell you instantly the trouble spots in the negative, or how little trouble it will be. So, keeping the fog level a constant in your developing enables you to poof any negative very quickly by printing to satisfy zone "0". Satisfying zone 0 at N+1 or N-1 will need different MTMB exposure times because their fog levels will be different.

    You can use the enlarged proof print to play around with cropping, envision the tone manipulations that you will want to make for the fine print, stick it in a box and put it away to examine it later when you are ready to print.

    Seems complicated when trying to describe, but it's really not.

    Regards,
    Chuck
     
  17. panastasia

    panastasia Member

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    I find that I'm always anxious to to view newly developed negatives even though the act of developing film is not fun, it's just a chore - I don't seem to need proofs because I like reading negatives directly on a light box - but as far a printing goes, I must be in the right mood.

    The process of producing a fine print is time consuming but becomes extremely rewarding as the experience progresses towards the final satisfying print. If I have time but my mood isn't right the results are much less satisfying, or not at all. It's almost the same with building stone walls now that I think of it, some days I can't do it at all - I can't see what fits. I'm sure it has something to do what side of my brain is working.

    Regards,
    Paul