I haven't had time to read through the whole thread but I'll just add my thoughts, which probably merely restate someone else's, somewhere above!
I think having time to set things aside and then reconsider them is very important. I would suggest making contact prints at a few different exposure and contrast levels; don't worry about perfection at that stage. When making contacts it's a good time try a few things that you are not sure will work. Then just let the contact prints sit for a while... days or weeks, however long it takes for you to give them a fresh look. After you've given enough time, you may be able to look at the images again and have a clearer picture of where you want to go.
I have times when I dislike everything I'm doing and nothing seems worth printing - that's when I go back and catch up on stuff that I didn't have time to print before.
Originally Posted by Katie
Never....I have always printed without notes, over 100,000 prints for sure by now.
I only kept good prints that I thought were decent interpertations of an image, and one thing I do is for every image I made three finals.. each final was different and the next day ,,,, and over years I ended up knowing what workflow was best for me.. It took me years to admit that there is no such thing as the perfect print.
I still make a couple of density changes on work to this day ... so you could call me a insecure printer...
Yes it will become natural to you
after enough prints , and if you dodge and burn on every print, and if you look at the neg, projected image on easel and look at the print emerging in the developer, it will all start making sense and you will be free of documentation.
Also I split print and use a % style of printing where once I determine the base exposure I never change the timer or apeture during all by print cycle..
for example.... grade two filter 10 seconds gives me my base... then grade 5 filter 10 seconds as well.. I will hit the timer more than once for more contrast on the 5 or I will dodge during the grade 5 exposure if I want less..... I do not change the timer.
little things like this I feel speed up my work and less time spent trying to figure out little print routines.
Dodging is your weapon of mass destruction... It is the most important aspect of printing. Burning in is almost like salvage work, but dodging is the finesse and should be worked on every single image.
Also when making contacts for personal work I will make darker and lighter contacts**1/2 stop** from normal so when looking you see great differences and some happy surprises.
today I scan and in Lightroom play with density and contrast to get an Idea where I want to go with final prints.
If you keep test strips, if you keep bad prints for comparison sake, you are only weakening yourself.. If some one says to you I do not like your prints they are too dark , no big deal thats one person, if every single person looking at your work says its to dark then maybe you need to adjust.
Your style is determined on what you like and you should be the person steering that boat.
Did I mention I do not have a microwave and Classical music puts me to sleep.
Originally Posted by zsas
+1. I think this approach is really key to obtaining an optimal result. Just as is the case with precisely judging focus, you won't know if you're right on the mark until you go a bit above and below the mark and compare. Particularly for FB paper, due to all the ways that drydown and texture and toning etc. can affect the end result. Happy surprises can be great, you just have to put yourself in a position to be able to spot them. And that means varying exposure and such. Fo course, contrast and exposure are the really wild variables here, a little change in contrast can make a big change in optimal exposure. So you have to start with the variables that make the coarse adjustments, then proceed to the finer and finer variables....
Originally Posted by Bob Carnie
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Not to argue with Carnie... I know better, since he's made a zillion more prints than I have, but I like my contact sheets to be the same contrast every time. That, to me, confirms how I'm doing with exposing and processing film, and is a great tool to make small adjustments in my process so that the negatives are perfectly tuned to my paper.
At least to me it would be confusing if the contact sheets were different contrast. So, I make them all contrast grade 2.5. That helps me understand whether I need to give more/less exposure, and/or more/less development time.
By not doing the contact sheets in different contrast levels I learn to see the potential of certain negatives, because they're almost always right at Grade 2.5 anyway.
My 2 cents.
"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
Last time I looked you were at least a foot taller than me, I am shrinking with age, so I am not going to argue with you.
my comments on darker lighter were for the happy surprises and not for judging my balance..
Its funny how an image takes on a complete change and sometimes a really light or really dark version kills the mid print.
I also do a correct contact so I can make sure everything is tickity boo.
Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson
Bob do you create your contact sheets in that manner because you print others work and therefore being less need to be concerned if a roll is exposed similar to other rolls because they are from different photographers? I can see some value of what Thomas does and also how you approach in that each roll is its own tabula rasa?
No , I do this for my own work or at least I did, one normal, one 1/2 over 1/2 under.
Also this is why I use a out flanking method in printing as described by MAS.
For client work I make contacts 1/2 grade softer than I think is proper and lighter so that the client can see well each image. I only made one set in that case.
Today I do not make contacts , only for the die hards, I roll scan all and in Lightroom make changes to see if I want differences.
In my personal work it must be noted that I only use the camera as a device to get info on film... I consider myself as a print maker rather than a photographer...
I have more respect for print makers than I do photographers...
Originally Posted by zsas
But what about the unfortunate souls who are both?
Originally Posted by Bob Carnie