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Thread: Judging prints

  1. #21

    Join Date
    Apr 2004
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    A master printer taught me that when printing, use a low level light when judging your tones when printing. This way when you view the final print under normal light it glows. I normally use a 15 watt bulb but do not directly point the light on the print. Instead I use a reflector and bounce it off the ceiling to give me an even soft light. The prints look excellent once finished and dried.

    Hope that help...

    Kev

  2. #22

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    Jan 2008
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    Yes. That also helps avoid the disappointments of 'dry down'. If you view the wet print under a weaker light it better approximates the dry print under normal lighting conditions. The 15 watt is a little too dim for me. I use a 40 watt bulb placed about 12 feet from the wash tray - mainly because I've reached the stage where I notice my arms have shrunk when try to read the newspaper!

  3. #23
    urals's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smieglitz View Post
    Along this line I would suggest making original test strip prints from a whole sheet of paper and following a geometric increase in exposure between each step. These strips have a similar contrast between each step unlike an arithmetic sequence. I like to make tests that cover a 2-stop range, 8-32 seconds in 1/3-stop increments for example (8+2.1+2.6+3.3+4.2+5.2+6.6 seconds). I've seen so many students try to base a print on a mere sliver of test paper and ultimately I think it causes them to waste more paper and reach a high level of frustration quickly. The entire sheet approach will let you see what the light is doing in the picture and give you an idea of what burning or dodging one- third stop will look like on the initial test.

    Another thing I tell students is that they can always make a better print. It may take years to see what could improve an image, but I don't think there is any such thing as a "perfect" print. Yet, a lot of people get hung up on perfectionism and drain the pleasure and soul out the printing experience. You want to stop before that happens in order to keep making prints of other images. Most viewers aren't going to care diddly-squat about all the fine-tuning you could do ad nauseam. The print should be engaging and of high quality, but it need not be perfect. Print it until you're happy with it.

    I learned to print in a commercial studio where I had unlimited access to someone else's paper. I learned to print on someone else's dime. I could always try this or that variation and get feedback from the boss and other coworkers. Not worrying about the cost and making a lot of prints (quickly, I might add) and experimenting made me a fairly decent printer. My point here is not to count the dimes you're spending on paper if you can. (And I know student budgets can be tight.) If you are worried about how much this is costing or if you only have a sheet or two left to get a print you're satisfied with, you'll never get there.

    And give yourself a package of paper and at least a half day to get a single print. Don't rush. Chances are you won't need that much of either.
    Yeah I definitely agree with all of this, especially with letting yourself use as much paper as you need. When I'm stingy I produce the worst prints.

  4. #24
    urals's Avatar
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    I think the advice in this thread has been really amazing, I appreciate it greatly everyone. I even went through it and took notes which I keep in my darkroom now and reference. There are some general truths that are good "signposts" for me to use to reorient myself when I'm lost, I think. I hope nobody minds, but I'm probably going to be badgering a lot of you for advice in the future! I think I can learn a lot this way. Thanks again.

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