reasonable time in the darkroom

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by rwreich, May 14, 2013.

  1. rwreich

    rwreich Subscriber

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    Hello Friends,

    How much time spent in a darkroom would you say is reasonable in order to get a good 8x10 print? Assume that I have good negatives that print well on standard MG fiber-based paper. Also, assume that I'm making appropriate test strips for each print and that I dodge and burn only modestly. (please, no jokes about assuming - just go with it;-)

    Obviously, this is different for every individual, but I'd like to compare my time and, possibly, efficiency.

    Thanks!

    - rwreich
     
  2. zsas

    zsas Member

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    Lets work backwards....
    Wash 15mins
    5 prints or so till I get it right - 50 mins
    2 test strips 20 mins
    Setup 20 mins

    1.5 hours min probably. That's a clean-perfect neg...
     
  3. rwreich

    rwreich Subscriber

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    Thanks Andy - that's kinda what I was hoping you (or somebody) would say. I'm also thinking that after the setup is done, it's about an hour for each good print after that.

    Does that sound about right?
     
  4. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 months. My wash setup is in garage so it is not included in this time estimate.

    Even with good negative, it takes me quite a while to get the contrast right and density right. With modestly complex manipulation, it can easily run more than a day to get it right.

    I don't care about efficiency If I'm printing on fiber, it is a good image that deserve to be printed to my satisfaction. So I take my time and do it over-and-over until I am satisfied with the result.
     
  5. rwreich

    rwreich Subscriber

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    tkamiya - I appreciate that, I really do. I understand exactly what you mean about "printed to my satisfaction." I doubt, though, that I can afford to be such a perfectionist. I'm trying to assess just how much I'm spending in this endeavor and that includes money and time in the darkroom away from my young kids and family. I'm all for achieving the best possible, but I can't lose sight of what is reasonable.
     
  6. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    rwreich: I don't think it can do any good for you to compare your time spent, or the number of sheets of paper or whatever other quantitative yardstick to other peoples' habits. Comparing methods, procedures and techniques can be of value, and this kind of learning may help you discover ways of becoming more efficient in the darkroom if that is a goal. But in the end if it takes you longer than someone else, who cares?
     
  7. rwreich

    rwreich Subscriber

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    Well, Michael, it may not matter if it takes me longer. I understand that this is an individual pursuit and that this thread is really only about a ballpark guess. That's fine with me and I am grateful for your input.

    My thought is related to a value-judgement about how much a good print is worth and how to account for time-spent in the final ledger. If I want to sell a print, and I don't want to come up short or over-sell, then I need to know how to compare my time with some type of average.
     
  8. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    First print about 1 hour, later other prints from same film strip are going little faster - if I use same paper and same size. But my prints are far from what can be called fine art print - I am satisfied with imperfections on my prints when I do it for me only.
    When I am doing it for somebody else - double the time.
     
  9. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Andy's estimate is spot on for me. The trick is what your workflow is. I prefer to print a work print (right contrast and exposure, maybe some obvious burn and dodge) and live with it for a while.....put it in my office, darkroom or some other place I see it regularly. Then I decide how I want to print it as a final print, I do that probably at a larger size. You are much better to put out 4 amazing prints per year than 40 OK prints so don't feel any time pressure. If you don't have enough time in one session, that is OK.
     
  10. zsas

    zsas Member

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    Generally. I usually only have 2 hrs to print so, if the neg is easy I can maybe get it done (8x10 only) in that 2 hr block. But hard negs and larger prints take multiple 1.5-2hr sessions.

    Helico Perma wash is a life saver....
     
  11. rwreich

    rwreich Subscriber

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    Thanks Darko & Mark - that's good advice.

    Thanks again, Andy
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 14, 2013
  12. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    If you are comparing the time in the darkroom to the time with your family, then the number of prints you come up with is irrelevant. In other words, if you take 10 hours away from your family to be in the darkroom, it doesn't matter whether you come up with 10 prints or 1 print. Or even 100 prints.
     
  13. rwreich

    rwreich Subscriber

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    Perhaps, pbromaghin. There must be a balance and an accounting of the cost. And that's the whole reason why I'm trying to work all of this out. Everyone must make choices, but to do so without weighing those costs is truly irresponsible.
     
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  15. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    You miss my point.

    The cost is the number of hours. You know what that is, so weigh it. The number of prints produced by that cost does not change the cost, and so does not enter into the calculation. Otherwise you are weighing a number of prints against time taken from your family. That is the irresponsible trade off.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 14, 2013
  16. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    rwreich,

    Yes, I know what you mean as well when it comes to having a reasonable expectation of my own work. But, this is my hobby and passion. I get carried away. Just a little darker here, little lighter here, a bit more contrast.... oh crap! - kind of thing. Before I know it 8 hours has passed and I spent half of my paper stock. It's frustrating and fun at the same time. I define hobby as not being constrained by anyone's expectation other than mine. That's what I do. I also work slowly. I don't have to make money out of this so time isn't money.

    Do what makes you happy....
     
  17. rwreich

    rwreich Subscriber

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    Forums like this make it difficult to convey inflection or personality. I'm as amicable as I can be.

    I'm not missing your point. I'm just not making this a thread about the quality of my parenting. I appreciate the input, but don't read into my statement about trade-offs too much.

    I'm in the planning stages of marketing photography and darkroom services, so I'm comparing the experiences of those who may know best.

    It's a job like any other, let's just keep it on topic.
     
  18. rwreich

    rwreich Subscriber

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    Tkamiya: that's exactly it. I appreciate your perspective. In the end, I don't want to spend more time than it's worth, although, I am sure that there will be prints that will need extra special attention.

    For most of my life, I've been a professional violinist. I know how much time it takes to perfect something and, alternatively, how much time it takes to make it performance ready.

    Efficiency is about maximizing return for efforts, and at some point you cross the point of diminishing returns. I was asking for average time in the DR for one print so that I'd have some point of comparison for that measurement.
     
  19. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Oh, so it's a job, not a hobby. That's an entirely different set of calculations.
     
  20. rwreich

    rwreich Subscriber

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    Yes, Pbromaghin. I'm sorry that I didn't make that clearer. Please accept my appologies.
     
  21. zsas

    zsas Member

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    ^With that said, I am a weekend analog'er so take my info with a grain of salt because if I was selling prints my approach would be much different.
     
  22. okto

    okto Member

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    Chiming in, I think two hours is reasonable for a single 8x10 from entering the darkroom to hanging the print to dry. Once you get a print you like into the stop bath, dupes take a LOT less time, so you could probably have ten identicals done in 2h30 assuming no snags.

    Remember to pay yourself first.
    Figure out what two hours of your time is worth to YOU, without consideration to what's affordable or competitive.
    THEN figure out your costs,
    THEN figure out what price the market will bear.
    At that point you can adjust what you're getting paid if it's worth it to you.

    You pay yourself first for two reasons: you need to make sure that the thing is financially feasible, IE if the price you can charge is less than what your time is worth the project needs to be re-engineered,
    and if you aren't getting compensated sufficiently for your time you will grow to hate your work, even if the activities of it are things you love. And that's the worst.

    Monetizing your passion/hobby is a tricky thing, because if you do it wrong you can destroy something you love.
     
  23. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    My average, excluding extremely quick one and extremely long one would be about an hour to two excluding washing time. With this, I can slap on a Kodak projection scale for a quick test, make 2 or 3 _quick_ small print, dry then in microwave, then 2 or 3 final size print. Usually - by then, I have a "semi-keeper". These usually go into my folder, not into a frame for wall display.

    Probably this answer is more in line with what you are asking.
     
  24. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Since it's a business, your efficiency in the darkroom is of high importance. However, it is just one consideration among a whole host. The most important question is, are you doing a business plan? You really should. Use it to tie all of the considerations together into one easy to grasp bundle. Actively seek out every possible reason for failure, come up with a behavior to counter it and put it into the business plan. Decide ahead of time what will cause you to quit.

    Best of luck to you.
     
  25. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    If you are planning to print for others then the only timeline to consider is if the client likes your work, if you want to stay in business then quality is what counts, and how fast you can give that quality will determine if you make a profit.
    Look at others pricing and you will place yourself near that, undercutting pricing will get you no where.
    good luck

    QUOTE=rwreich;1497690]Yes, Pbromaghin. I'm sorry that I didn't make that clearer. Please accept my appologies.[/QUOTE]
     
  26. rwreich

    rwreich Subscriber

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    Thanks to everyone - my business partner and I are in the midst of this process at the moment. He has a background in business and, hopefully, that will keep us on track to stay on target. That's really why I'm trying to quantify all of this time and value.

    I like the idea of "Actively seek out every possible reason for failure, come up with a behavior to counter it and put it into the business plan. Decide ahead of time what will cause you to quit." That's not something I am used to thinking about.

    I need to think about how I can say what I'm thinking and then I'll get back to you. Besides, it's time to pick up the kids from school;-)