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  1. #41

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    Try the Zonemaster II

    I am an amateur and my darkroom times are all over the place because I don't do it that often and when I do I am not generally time constrained.

    One tool that has helped me immensely is the Zonemaster II. I actually found it to be quite handy for analyzing my negatives and adjusting my EI/developing. It helps me to zero in on a contrast grade quickly and get either a dead on exposure or close enough that one test strip in a key area is all you really need. The problem I have with the Zonemaster is you need to be able to know where you want different values of the negative to fall on the grayscale. When I was adjusting my EI/developing what I did was shoot a scene that contained known values. So I put some Caucasian skin in there. I put some pure white with texture and some black with texture. I used cloth for my black and white with texture. I put the black cloth in a shadow and the white in direct sunlight. So I had two almost idiot proof values. I also had the Caucasian skin tone so I could see how something familiar and important would be rendered in the print.

    If you have a low contrast scene that doesn't contain the full spectrum then it's a little trickier. Anyway read up on the device and see if it will help you. There is also a thing called the Stopclock Pro that is supposed to help with making test strips. It is also nice because it works in tandem with the Zonemaster II and the values from the Zonemaster II (contrast, exposure time) are transferred directly to the Stopclock Pro. My wallet is a little thin as of late so I only got the Zonemaster II. The Zonemaster II cost more than my entire darkroom But it was worth it. I can robotically crank out a decent print in minutes with no test strip.

  2. #42

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    Excellent idea, Noble - I'm really considering something like this. I don't necessarily want to abandon test strips in all my work, but this may save time and money in the long run!

  3. #43
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rwreich View Post
    Excellent idea, Noble - I'm really considering something like this. I don't necessarily want to abandon test strips in all my work, but this may save time and money in the long run!
    Be sure to have the business going first - so you can properly amortize/deduct the cost.

  4. #44

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    Bill, I've been asking myself chicken-&-egg questions like this at a near constant rate. Thanks for the reminder!

  5. #45
    J.Marks's Avatar
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    You can't go with what other people say as to the amount of time taken to get a print right. Every negative is different, every issue of what you're looking for in the print is different. I've gotten completed prints in 20 min, (not counting wash time) some over several hours. You choose the amount of work you want to put in to the print and go from there. If you are constrained by a budget, then just work harder on an individual print, study the negative or contact sheet then go from there. Good luck and good printing.
    Last edited by J.Marks; 05-23-2013 at 12:41 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  6. #46
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    Completely agree with you

    Quote Originally Posted by polyglot View Post
    To be blunt I think you need to be technically excellent and publicly recognised as such before hanging up your shingle to do this kind of work. Once you have people asking for you to print their negs then you worry about how much to charge and how long it takes.

    If your customers are happy to pay what you ask then all good but if they baulk, you can probably then think about how to optimise process and/or whether the time you spend on a neg is reasonable.
    I remember Thomas Keller, a famous chef of French Laundry talking about the restaurant kitchen. He said in order to produce meals out of that kitchen, you need the minimal input of labor and food to cook the dishes. In other words, for a restaurant to be profitable, the kitchen has to be efficient. As you can tell, I love to cook. I see parallels of working photographer's darkroom and a commercial kitchen. Both require technical expertise to be efficient and artistry to producing a pleasing product. All cooking techniques and darkroom techniques should be second nature if it's a profitable business.
    "Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."
    Aaron Chang

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