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  1. #1
    thefizz's Avatar
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    Testing films V. Darkroom practice

    With my present job I don't get to devote as much time to photography as I would like. But I have put a lot of effort into testing various films and developers over the last year. This has resulted in less time spent printing in my darkroom and I have more films/devs to test.

    My question is this:

    Am I wasting too much time trying to get the right film and developer combination for my needs and should I just spend more time in the darkroom practicing my split grade printing, flashing, fogging etc., etc.

    I think that I am too much of a perfectionist and should just pick a couple of films I like and just go with them. I feel I need to get back into the darkroom and start working on my backlog of negs.

    Time is precious, am I wasting it?

    Peter

  2. #2

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    If you have found several films and developers that you like just go out and shoot and work on your darkroom tech.

    Regards

    Paul

  3. #3
    eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thefizz
    Time is precious, am I wasting it?

    Peter
    Yes

    I don't know what type of photos you like to do. But don't get stuck and categorized as one of those people that like to shoot brick walls and USAF resolution charts.

    Unless your darkroom is in a vacumn, there are sooooo many variables that so hard to control. EG, h20 quality (changes once in a while), emulsion differences, measuring control (did you measure 3 g or 3.2 g?), did you pour EXACTLY 10ml of chemicals or 10.5ml?

    Go to some galleries and borrow a whole bunch of photo books from the library. Look at them. Don't ask "hmmm, wonder if that was tri-x developed in hc110 or hmmm, wonder if that was agfa 100 in rodinol". Who cares? The print that you see...the image is what counts.

    I don't care if people developed their film in Charles River water.

  4. #4

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    Film Testing

    Peter- it's always been fairly common knowledge that the people who belong to the film of the month club will never make decent prints. Go to some shows and see how some well known photographers worked. Usually they settled on one style and kept with it. The materials today are basically very good. Even improved over 20 years ago. Find the one's that match YOUR style and go for it.
    Albeit there is nothing inherently wrong with testing. It just should become a means to an end.
    Regards, Peter

  5. #5
    rjr
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    Peter,

    settle on a limited range of papers and films, of developers and learn to use them, get known to their characteristic. Test them with either a densitometer or -if you don´t want to get into the abyss of sensitometry or have no friend who is into that dark matter ;-)- with the practical approach propagated by Barry Thornton or how Les Mclean describes it in his book.

    You´ll end up with knowledge and a process that is adapted to your personal style, you´ll prevent many errors in the future and hassle in the darkroom.

    Once the process of testing is done, you´ll save time since you can relax and concentrate on the image - which is the aim of all that effort, isn´t it?

    The Thornton page is offline, but there is an archived version at
    http://web.archive.org/web/200312020....co.uk/pfs.htm
    and
    http://web.archive.org/web/200312020...uk/devtime.htm
    Tschüss,
    Roman

  6. #6
    tbm
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    If you are experiencing the emotional concept of guilt, switch to printing some of your negatives. I test films and developers when I have no other negatives to print, and that becomes a learning process. But I am always eager to continue to improve my darkroom printing skills, and with that goal I find balance between testing films and developers and printing.

  7. #7
    Dean Williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thefizz
    But I have put a lot of effort into testing various films and developers over the last year.
    Peter
    Pick one of these films you've tested and go out and shoot it. Shoot as much as you are able to, and make some photographs.

    Quote Originally Posted by thefizz
    and I have more films/devs to test.Peter
    Keep this up and you are on your way to becoming a habitual film tester. The various photo forums on the web are littered with people who feel the need to test everything available, searching for the perfect combination. They have loads of mediocre test shots that are a result of their search.

    Do you want to be a film tester, or a photographer?
    [COLOR=Sienna][FONT=Arial]Some days are diamonds. Some days a tree crashes through your roof.[/FONT][/COLOR]

  8. #8
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    Pick a film/developer combination and then spend a year with it. Testing is good for figuring out properties and exposures, but we don't do film tests for fun. It is to aid in the making of photographs.

    That having been said, I have some really nice step wedge prints. They show tonality and banality at the same time. tim

  9. #9
    thefizz's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your advise, much appreciated.

    I think Dean hit the nail on the head: "Do you want to be a film tester, or a photographer?

    Thanks,
    Peter

  10. #10
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    One thing that I have found very helpful is having an on line community of people discussing their various successes and failures with different materials processes and results.
    You still have to do your own tests but at least you have some direction to focus on.
    That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
    =Neal W.=

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