I agree with Bob that printing a lot, and in a short amount of time, teaches you more than most anything else. During my last year in college for a degree in photo, I took a job printing in a lab. The work there did more to improve my printing than any of my own projects simply by demands of quality, volume, and time. Printing my own photographs got much better during and after that experience, s when I got to graduate school, my printing was well beyond my peers.
Another thing I did to improve stemmed from a project I was required to do in grad school. It was designed to provide the means to choose what look you want for your work. I duplicated this assignment just this past month. I used one negative that printed well without dodging and burning (it still needs some for a fine print, just not for this) and chose two different papers (Ilford MG, and MGWT), seven different developers (Sprint, Dektol, Selectol, Selectol-Soft, Ansco 130, and Ansco 113 which is an amidol formula, with two different dilutions and times), then each of these was toned in a different toner (selenium 1:3, 1:9, and 1:19 for 5 and 10 minutes each, Kodak Brown toner, Kodak Polytoner 1:4, 1:24, and 1:50, reveresed Sepia I, and reversed Sepia II). This made a total of 196 prints to compare tonality, color, and contrast.
Bob, I will send you the prints on MGWT with the reverse sepia since you said in another thread that you had never heard of it before. Just tell me which developer you want to see it with.
Greg I would like to see it with Dektol . I assume you mean selenium first then bleach sepia ??
Dektol it is. Reverse sepia means putting the print in the Sepia toner first, then bleaching partially, then placing it back in the toner. It gives cooler browns with deeper blacks than regular sepia. I will send you both sepia I and sepia II since they came out differently.
interesting... yes I would like to see this test. thanks
Thanks for the encouragement and I know that when I'm working from a single roll often the base exposures are really similar... I often can guess to within a few seconds just by looking at the negative and the easel. I can easily imagine this would go even quicker with a contact sheet. And it's certainly true that it does not take long to make a print once I've got my times figured out... the part that is time consuming for me is the test strips to get to those times. I usually spend about 1 hour per print, which is typically 2 test strips, then a "working" straight print, then one or more "finals"... if I just want to change my dodging/burning a little, that last one goes fast. For me that's the fun one.. you have all the work of basic times figured out, and you know you will see the results quickly now! Also I take my test strips much further than just to get base exposures, so they often provide lots of information about how much to burn or dodge.
I can see that doing this exercise over a shorter time could be more beneficial, so I'll think about ways to streamline a bit more. One thing that could speed me up a whole lot might just be a bucket of water to put the prints in ( I have no water in my darkroom ).
Thanks again, I appreciate it.
Once you establish your time, and the images on the contact is similar then you do not need to do test strips, If you are light or dark by a bit its no big drama.
the idea is to just print... free yourself Willy.
Home depot makes the under the sink plastic holders to hold prints.. but I feel your pain with no water in the darkroom now that is tough.
But my last workshop in California showed me something I have never seen, out side drying of prints on screen , depending on the day the prints dried in front of my eyes
it was fun..
Ha! I've gotta admit that sounds fun and liberating and I probably could make a hundred prints in a day this way. I need some more 8x10 paper soon anyway, so I'll see about bigger boxes for my next order! Cheers :)
Originally Posted by Bob Carnie
Well I guess Mr. Carnie won't be reading this, but I'd like to try one last time to clarify my position.
Nobody ever said sensitometry makes better prints. It is just knowledge. Prints are made by eye, with creativity, experience and skill.
For the record I've never taken any swipes at Mr. Carnie's skill or experience as a printer, and I don't understand why he's always offended when I happen to disagree after he takes a hard line position against methods he doesn't personally favor. In fact, I believe more often than not we have been in agreement regarding the use of one's eyes rather enlarging meters and other fancy gadgetry.
I've only tried to point out that once one has practiced a lot and gained experience, adding techniques like masked flashing (for example) to the "tool box" is not necessarily a useless endeavor. While they aren't necessary procedures in most cases, I have also seen some wonderful prints that could not have been made without these seemingly arcane techniques. I have also seen wonderful prints that are difficult to make and require a lot of work, even for the most brilliant workers. As for KISS, of course this is a good policy. I think I could make a pretty good case for things like split grade and outflanking actually being more complicated for a beginner than a more traditional methodical approach, but I won't.
With all due respect, while "tips from the darkroom" was good, in post #52 for some reason Mr. Carnie took direct aim at people discussing curves, theory, printing maps, etc. Since I regularly participate in those kinds of technical discussions, but am also passionate about printing, I think it was acceptable to try to make the point it isn't all silly nonsense. Any piece of knowledge acquired, or technique learnt can potentially be of value.
As far as saying I have nothing of value to contribute on APUG, I find that fairly offensive. I try to present the most accurate information I can. That's a far cry from most of what goes on here.
Originally Posted by NedL
you will not believe yourself when you have made 100 prints, or 200 or 300 prints in a day
it is kind of insane, but when you get in the groove ( similar "If you are light or dark by a bit its no big drama" as bob says it )
you will be on fire.
no need for crazy tools, just your eyes ..