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  1. #31
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ParkerSmithPhoto View Post
    People think being a photographer is a lot of fun, and it is, but it's a lot of damned work, too. How you approach the damned work part of it is surely of equal or greater importance than the fun part. As Keith says "there's no excuse, you gotta get the work done."
    No free rides...

    Yesterday, and the day before, I went into the darkroom with the intent of expanding two of my portfolios. I looked at contact sheets on Friday night, selected a few frames from 2008 to print, played with cropping, and Saturday morning I went into the dark, and stayed there until 9pm, surfacing only to eat, take potty break, and let my better half know that I'm still alive.
    Sunday morning, repeat Saturday, except I quit around 5pm.

    Out of the printing sessions came two 16x20 prints, five 11x14, eight 8x10 prints, and a slew of new contact sheets. All but the contact sheets are toned with one or two toners.

    It's more than I've ever successfully produced in a weekend before, being limited by darkroom logistics, such as not having a 16x20 print washer...

    But to have the intent of working on something specific I think is what gets me in the zone, all focused and inspired to try hard. To get those portfolios printed up, all on the same paper, with results that are both consistent and individually pleasing.
    "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

  2. #32
    ParkerSmithPhoto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    Saturday morning I went into the dark, and stayed there until 9pm, surfacing only to eat, take potty break, and let my better half know that I'm still alive.
    Sunday morning, repeat Saturday, except I quit around 5pm.
    Dude, that's hardcore! I know you said your darkroom isn't the most comfortable space, either.

    One of the things helping me gain momentum is getting everything organized, like I do when I cook. This is a mock up of my darkroom space made out of mat board, with all the major items measured out to scale. This was how I did my fabulous kitchen. It's really easy to experiment and "feel" the layout before you start pounding nails.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The other big organizational project was getting all of the negatives contacted (took a while, almost done) and in binders by year.

    Still much work to do there, but obviously, you can work hard and get nowhere if you a) aren't organized; and, b) have no clear goals. So, hopefully, I'm almost done with the organizing and close to setting some real goals to go with it.

    As to section b), I can empathize with Katie, though, as it's sometimes quite difficult to evaluate why you are working on a particular image and/or what it means, if anything. (Robert Adams recalled an interview with Imogen Cunningham, who was fond of asking herself "is this a good picture?" Translation: "is this worth doing?" Or: "am I wasting my time on something no one but me cares about?")

    Those thoughts alone can easily lead to avoidance and procrastination. (I plead very guilty...)
    Parker Smith Photography, Inc.
    Atlanta, GA

    Commercial & Fine Art Photography
    Portrait Photography

  3. #33
    Worker 11811's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katie View Post
    So my question ... when you go into the darkroom, do you know EXACTLY what you are going to print?
    Mood, state of mind or "head space" is just as important in the darkroom as it is when you're behind the camera.

    As they say, taking a photograph and making the negative is like composing a symphony but making the print is like performing it.
    If you are not in a good frame of mind when you print a negative, you are not likely to do your best work.

    So, yes, I wait until I'm in the right head space until I go downstairs. If you need to play music or something, turn on a radio or fire up the iPod.

    One trick I use to know what pictures I want to print is to post them on Flickr.
    I scan my negatives and Photoshop them to look the way I like. Then I upload to Flickr and watch how many hits they get.
    After a few days or a week goes by, I know which ones have been getting a good response, I have a good idea which ones are best.

    When I go to the darkroom, I run a couple of test strips: One for exposure and one for contrast. Then I make one test print and call it a day. I take that print upstairs, lay it out on a blotter to dry and forget about it until the next morning. Then, when I get up, I look at it while I'm having my coffee.

    Many of my pictures never make it past this stage but, when I have a "good one", I'll know it and I'll have a good picture in my mind what I want to make out of this negative.

    After that, it's all a matter of making the final print look like the idea in my head.
    (That's the hard part! )
    Randy S.

    In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni.

    -----

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/randystankey/

  4. #34

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    I only have so much mental energy so I like to have things all planned out ahead of time. The fun part is printing something for the first time. You haven't seen the problems yet. The hard part is finishing something off. I tell myself it's not brain surgery. If you screwup you can just print it over next time.

    I do think that there are two ways to approach printing. In one you know what you want the print to look like and work to get it. In the other you make several prints in a variety of looks and as they say let the print tell you which is best. Both seem to work fine but sometimes seeing the variety of prints can get you thinking.

  5. #35
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    Lots of good advice.. here are a few things I consider and do each week, I go in the darkroom average 3 days a week for 6-8 hours each session.
    Set goals for each session and try to accomplish them .

    Before the printing session

    Go for the easiest negative first , that is followed by the same series of negatives, set the negatives in the enlarger in advance
    Set up the trays and negatives in advance, I use two enlargers at all times.
    Make sure all chemistry is there in plenty and ready to charge the trays
    Make sure you have paper and spare bulbs.


    Day of printing

    get rid of all emails and disturbances and make sure you are free to work.
    in my case put on the jumpsuit
    warm up the safelights
    while the safelights are warming up put the chemicals in trays.


    Now put on PRINCE OR MADONNA or whatever music charges your soul and makes you happy and start printing.



    First two prints of the day will take longer and you will waste a few more sheets.
    If you want more pick negatives of similar quality so your flow is improved.

    remember to take breaks for bodily functions and maybe fresh air if your in a tight space

    I use the same paper and chemistry's as well as a set time for process, unless its lith.

    For those who print a lot some will argue these points.
    - I do not keep notes
    - I do not do test strips
    - I do not keep any bad prints for comparison
    - All my main considerations are done in the developing tray... there fore I look as the print emerges.
    - I do not have a microwave at home... my wife and I usually use the stove or bbq
    -I do not play classical music.. I am not at a sleep therapy class.
    - I make sure the easel is set to the bulb and negative , and therefore am very critical of all the borders.
    they should be even density with no falloff and very sharp.
    - I keep my work surface , neg carriers and lenses clean as possible.


    Most of the people on this thread and the OP I recognize as people who spend a fair amount of time in the darkroom so I feel comfortable saying the following.

    When you go to a fine restaurant do you think the head chef , or for that fact any chefs looking at notes while they prepare your meal.......

    Same with printing, if you observe the simple things like dark and light on the easel, if you dodge and burn each print, and if you look at the print emerging
    you do not need any notes.

    I remember reading about the printers bringing prints to Richard Avedon and he would scribble on the paper where he wanted changes...this makes me laugh, as either the printers ignored what he said or they were the worst printers in the world and it took RA a lot of time to get prints out of a darkroom.
    After printing for others for 30 plus years and making a living I can tell you this is not the way it goes down.
    More like how Bill Jay tells the story about Helmut Newton's relationship with his printer.


    To the OP ... Not everyone has the same taste in prints, go to any collector of photography and you can see a vast difference in printing styles and contrast, and density.... I feel I am a deep printer, that means I like darker prints than most would prefer... that does not make me any worse of a printer ...So when judging your work, remember that if you like it , its probably a good print and over time you may find that your style is different than others... and I think that is a good thing... Nothing worse than a print with no feeling.

  6. #36
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    Ok so I lied above .... in one clients case I do something quite different..

    I am working on a project that over the last 10 years and 15 years in the future is going to require repeat visits for edition printing.

    I have made portfolio prints of the hero images for my client to show , then scanned the neg's and made small RA 4 prints and put in a very large water colour book

    This is going to be a Museum show and the negatives are from over 20 years of repeat visits to a location,, all large format, some pyro some D76.
    All natural light and in tough lighting conditions.

    These prints after I make them are listed as I go and I do write down how I made the print and where the difficulty's were.. I do not write down times or contrast settings of the enlarger, only my basic thoughts of each image.

    Things like ... this is a easy image , next printing its ok to do one if requires.

    or..... this is a very tough image,, hot spot on bottom required massive burn- next time print all edition of this negative rather than one.

    This book will stay with me until the editions are finished and then I will give it to him as a gift.

  7. #37
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Very interesting notes, Bob.

    I find myself taking notes, to be honest with you. But I also find that I hardly ever look at them.

    Music is important to me in the darkroom, and I just got a new CD player from in there. Depending on what I print, I play different types of music.
    "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

  8. #38

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    So much of what has been said resonates with me as well.

    I tell my friends that I shoot film so that I can go to the Darkroom - I truly enjoy working in the Darkroom, BUT...
    there are days when the Darkroom spirit is not in me. When that happens, I don't push it. I will tidy-up the place, look at contact sheets and plan my next session.

    When my kids were as little as 4yrs old, I took them in with me (they insisted!); made little aprons and face masks for them. I would expose the paper and they would do the rest. That was truly a wonderful experience and I hope to repeat it when my littlest one is old enough.

  9. #39
    zsas's Avatar
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    Bob - Great info! Question - when you were learning to print did you take notes so as to learn what you liked/didn't? Or have you always printed in this manner? I find myself as a new printer making a few prints, flipping them over, reading my notes (f, mg setting, exposure, what was dodge/burned, etc), and using that to reaffirm my own style. As a newbie, I do print for what I like, I just don't know how I could have found out what I like without notes/reflection or does that part become natural at some point and you were able to print free of that documentation because your eye knows what to do to arrive at your own aesthetic w/o notes?
    Andy

  10. #40
    Worker 11811's Avatar
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    For notes: Once I get a print worked up the way I want, I make an extra backup print and make notes on the reverse then pin it up on the darkroom wall.

    If I ever want to reproduce that print, I just take the backup off the wall, stick it in my easel, put the negative in the gate and line it up to the print. All I have to do, then, is to follow the directions I already wrote.

    I do have a few sheets of notebook paper tacked to the wall, too, where I keep notes for prints I don't have pinned up but, for about two dozen "keepers" on the wall, I only have two or three sheets of notes on paper tacked up in the corner above my workbench.

    That's it. Everything else is in my head.
    Randy S.

    In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni.

    -----

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/randystankey/

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