Why don't I learn?
The one thing I've learnt about black and white printing over the year that I've been developing my skills is that the techniques, rules, tips and hints that I read in books and on this forum really do have to be adhered to.
At first it was my slapdash approach that led to cross-contamination that did for my prints and then it was improper print washing and then it was improper print drying and then... you get the picture, the list goes on a long way.
More recently I've made great headway but this morning I nipped into the cellar to do some prints before my daughter awoke. I poured the developer into the tray and noticed that it was full of grey sediment and looked pretty nasty. Ah well. I developed my first print and it looked pretty good. Dear oh dear, these guys who go on about discarding your developer when it goes a bit yellow. Pah, this stuff's far worse than that and works fine.
So I exposed and developed another four prints, took them back up to the house to wash them in the archival washer and then noticed that all of them have dark streaks in random areas. Upshot? Apart from developing some useful dodge and burn charts for the neg, a waste of almost two hours!
So, am I alone in being so amazingly unwilling to do what I read and what more experienced photographers tell me and what will my next act of ignorance be?
I've found that banging my head on the wall helps, at least it feels good when I stop.
I'm pretty careful and fastidious, but we all have the weak moment. The little voice says, "it won't matter, I don't see a problem, etc." Eventually the lesson becomes a learned thing and the voice goes away for awhile.
There's no way to speed things up. If you try, like reducing washing time a little before toning -- ouch, you pay the price immediately in staining. At least I have.
Alone? Not a chance. I kept using a box of Kodak MG paper way beyond its useful life, even after finding I couldn't alter the contrast. Should have told me something but I couldn't quite bring myself to accept that things weren't as they should be.
What I need is paper and chems that suddenly and unequivocally instantly "die" then I'd stop thinking that it might be alright. It's a bit like having your car start every morning on first turn of the key for months then it's on the second turn and maybe the third. You should see the signs of a problem straight away but something in your head says" It's probably nothing to worry about"
The problem is that after a while you forget the trouble you experienced and fall prey to repeating the error. Of course when it comes to some things such as being prepared to undertake the repeat business of birth and child rearing it's one of the great strengths of our species.
It's playing the "long game" that counts
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The only advise I would give: Do not use old crappy photo materials, it's always disappointing. Crappy old high sensitive films or old chemicals is a hopeless point of starting up.
(Easy to say if you're sinking in films, chemicals and paper of course )
I think we have all had to learn some things the hard way. Some of us, and I fit into this category very well, tend to have to relearn the same things the hard way a few times. My advice is to NOT join this group of individuals.
I have been lucky in the darkroom though. A lack of money and darkroom time makes one very anal about one's practices. Having worked in a special collections darkroom with historic negatives under the watchful eye of conservators makes one keep to those good darkroom habits too.
Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI
So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004
Originally Posted by Fotohuis
I like fresh developer- for both film and prints. Indicating stop-bath turns purple when exhausted and fixer can be used until exhausted as well. Check the fix (before you use it) with a hypo-tester.
Black and white film and paper processing is mostly simple and straightforward. Read the instructions and follow them exactly and you should be fine. Try using one film, paper, and chemistry for awhile until you've got your work flow down pat. Keep the darkroom side simple so you can spend more time shooting pictures.
"A certain amount of contempt for the material employed to express an idea is indispensable to the purest realization of this idea." Man Ray
I can only fully agree with you. Further you have to organize your darkroom in an easy way so that it's interesting for one hour to do some film development and/or printing.
More automatic things, do not loose all time with testing only.
TAS automatic film developer, Nova processor, Split Grade (TM) automatic system. All boring things of my last 40 years darkroom experience have been out.
Darkroom can also be high tech without boring film development by hand , without boring test/grade strips, waste time to build up the materials and cleaning, use boring powder developers, fix to spare some last euro cents. Come on, most of us are using high tech expensive photo equipment and are doing darkroom work in the way I did it 30-40 years ago.
Why spoil all efforts and time for trying to make the best pictures and have a complete failure by a stupid Eur. 0,30 cents wrecked B&W developer, it's so stupid!