In a 3 to 4 hour session, I can only manage 1 decent 11X14.
printing 10 or more from heavily controlled (E&D) negs is one thing, but try doing that with 35mm negs shot under variable, contrasy lighting and developed for the average! Does not matter how much experience you have, this is one tough requirement as you will find grades vary considerably, as does the need for pre-flash etc.
I find I normally print no more than one as I would be drying strips and checking highlights/drydown etc. On occasion I might get 2-3 done but that would be rare. Sometimes getting a good print can take me into the second day after spending a lot of time staring at a dry print, complete.
Today in 4 hours I did two decent 8X10 fibre prints from 4x5 negatives. It wouldn't have taken any longer to do 11x14's. Most of the time was spent dialing in the exposure time and filter. I probably wasted 4 sheets getting that right. I do a minimal amount of dodging and burning (because I'm not very good at it unless it's simple). The time includes selenium toning and washing, right up to the time I paste them on a glass sheet for drying. It doesn't include the time I spend fussing over which of the negatives I have that are worthy of all this fun.
I would dearly like to watch one of you printing masters do some of the extremely complicated dodging and burning I have seen illustrated in books and magazines, where the photo is mapped in detail with 10 - 20 different sections showing how many seconds of exposure to each, and with which filter. I can't even imagine the skill and dexterity it would take to do that, let alone figuring it all out in the first place.
In the end, I still try and second-guess myself. Maybe this area is too dark, maybe I need more contrast, maybe it's right as it is.
My next windfall job $ will have to be spent on a darkroom course. I believe someone puts them on in Montana occassionally, a place I could drive to.
If I had been present at the creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better arrangement of the Universe.
Alfonso the Wise, 1221-1284
I just started printing again after 23 years so my volume is quite low as I re-learn with the newer papers. A few nights ago I got 3 decent 8x10 prints in 4 hours. Now that I have been looking at them I will probably reprint 2 of the 3 so for now I made 1 keeper in 4 hours.
It depends on the negatives and on how fussy you are. If the negatives are all similar and I am just doing routine prints, I can get into the 4 to 8 range. But I have had difficult negatives that have taken me over 4 hours to get a single decent print. Once I find the basic exposure, things usually go fairly well, and I can get a reasonable print for display in about 4 more tries - say an hour. That makes about 3 prints in a 4 hour session for good but not extremely fussy work. One thing is certain, when you see a negative that you know will print easily in one or two tries, it takes 15 sheets of paper to get it right; those that look harder usually aren't.
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I'm with you on the dodging and burning, JohnnyWalker.
I am very happy if I get one, maybe two goods print in a session, my sessions usually go from 6-8 hours on the weekends. The week is reserved for shooting, developing and contact printing.
2-4 prints usually
In a 4 hour session - 2-4 prints is about my average - used to be much lower. However I must put this in the framework in which I work.
1 - I am contact printing 8x10 negs - dodging and burning is needed much less than when I was enlarging.
2 - I am using a pyro based film developer (pyrocat) which gives me highlights that are much easier to control than the developer I previously used.
3 - I do not tone usually during the initial printing session - usually at a later date to be more efficient.
4 - possibly this is one of the best methods I ever learned in a darkroom - I must credit Michael Smith for this - I no longer make test strips. I use his "outflanking the print" method and I waste far less paper. You can find his article here:
I was skeptical about it at first - by after getting used to it, I am a MUCH, MUCH more efficient printer.
I could probably increase my output if I was less fussy, but I hate to compromise.
Hope this helps.
I am a little surprised about some of the dodging and burning comments here.
I enjoy dodging and burning.
Just make notes right on a work print - in pencil!
By the way, if you dodge and burn, then you will definitely want to try using f/stop printing (thanks to Ralph Lambrecht for his table!).
P.S. I've been told that when I dodge and burn, my hands seem to dance. That's good, because when I dance, my feet don't seem to dance.
It should take as long as it takes, keeping check on number of prints produced is discouraging. It is not a competition. As John O'Donohue says (in Anam Cara) " In the world of creative work, where your gift is engaged there is no competition."
I have lately adopted the approach of doing one or two prints per printing session. It may be that I make five copies of the print, but usually just one negative, maybe two.
I predetermine which negative by proofing on the scanner or examine contact sheets with a loupe. It helps me focus on that negative and print to be the best picture it can be. So I end up with fewer prints, but more that I'm truly happy with, or at least I know I gave it my best shot.
It used to be that I'd come out with ten prints from a session, but usually just one or two I really truly wanted to keep. Your mileage may vary, but I feel my new approach teaches me patience, and it helps me produce better work, while operating in a more focused manner. Win win for me.
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh