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Thread: Making Prints

  1. #1

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    Making Prints

    While working on some negatives yesterday, started to wonder how long each of you spend working on a given negative? In other words, how long do you work with a negative, before you set is aside or just flat give up on it?
    Mike C

    Rambles

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    Mike,
    For me that depends on the photograph. The short answer is until I am satisfied with the print. I find that sometimes I have set a negative aside and returned to it much later. In the interim I may have learned some technique that allows me to create the photograph that I want.

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    geraldatwork's Avatar
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    I think it depends on a few factors. One how much I like the photo, how important it is to me. The other how difficult it is to print. One is related to the other. Generally with a decent negative (one reasonably easy to print) I'll do a work print and evaluate it. Usually with one or two test strips and one or two full size enlargements I'll arrive at a decent work print. From there I'll evaluate what needs to be done and I'll arrive at a print I'm happy with with a few more attempts.

    For more difficult to print negatives of prints I feel important I'll work as Don mentioned above. I'll do the best I can and go back to it a few months later. Unfortunately my favorite negative is under exposed by at least a stop and needs a lot of burning and dodging. I've gotten to the point where it is decent but still needs some improvement.

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    jovo's Avatar
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    My wife, a professional artist and very good photographer as well, tells me I need to spend more time letting the prints I make incubate after doing my best with them initially. She's right (I learned to say, "Yes dear" in any case ;-).) and I do wait awhile now before deciding i'm done with one. In the interim, I set it in a mat and frame it (holding it in place with the pressure of the glass) and put it where I can look at it as often as possible. With time, I find I have insights I could not have had at first.

    Since photographs are so much easier to produce than oil paintings for instance, it seems quite natural to grind them out quickly. Realizing just how much control we actually do have though, is a big step toward 'making' a photograph rather than simply 'taking' one.
    John Voss

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    It all depends on the negative. Some negatives need nothing more than determining exposure and contrast grade. Sometimes I don't even need a test strip but know from the contact print or sheet what is correct.

    Most of mine will require some work with split filtering, burning, dodging etc. I tend to expose a lot of film of scenes with a wide sbr so even with a compensating developer, some manipulation is required.

    A few are poorly exposed or developed but contain an image that I want to salvage. I usually go through a lot of time, paper and frustration. Maybe I get the print I want but many times I kick myself in the rear for being careless about technique and try to learn from my mistakes.

    Finally there are certain negatives that can be printed or interpreted a variety of ways and I sometimes revisit them with a new approach or with input from a critique that encourages me to explore the negative further.

    I think many are so competent and comfortable with technique that most of their negatives print easily with modest adjustments during printing. They can produce beautiful prints easily because of the care and experience on the film side of the equation.
    "Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
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    BWGirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim68134
    It all depends on the negative. Some negatives need nothing more than determining exposure and contrast grade. Sometimes I don't even need a test strip but know from the contact print or sheet what is correct....Finally there are certain negatives that can be printed or interpreted a variety of ways and I sometimes revisit them with a new approach or with input from a critique that encourages me to explore the negative further.
    Boy, I agree with this! There are some negatives I have that I just love but have a difficult time returning that affection to me. There's one in particular... It's a church steeple, great clouds, nice definition, but I must go though all kinds of machinations to get the blasted thing to print like I know it should look! I can spend hours in my darkroom with one or two prints, but mostly, I will only endure the frustration for so long that I just say "Ok, that's enough...for now." I still go back to it, but I wait, take notes (copious notes) and see if I can figure it out! One of these days, I'll post some of these devils so you all can help me figure out how to *exercise the demons*! haha
    Jeanette

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    Thanks to everyone for your reply..

    Donald, as always your advice is solid and sound.

    This is what I have been doing recently, just seems like more negatives are not simple to print. Many seem to require extra effort to get get the feeling I'm after. I tend to think the negatives aren't where I want them, OR my expectations are not what they should be.

    Thanks again to everyone for you thoughts.
    Mike C

    Rambles

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    If printing a certain negative makes you sweat beads then for me that means that it should be binned - i.e. the info is not there or is too hidden to be coaxed out.

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    BWGirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Francesco
    If printing a certain negative makes you sweat beads then for me that means that it should be binned - i.e. the info is not there or is too hidden to be coaxed out.
    Awwww come on! If it were easy, it'd be digital! haha!
    Jeanette

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    I've been kinda wondering about this too, most of my negatives used to require hours of darkroom struggles and sheets and sheets of paper to print decent... but my most recent negs (and the one that I submitted to the exchange) printed beautifully with no dodges/burns. I tried a few things, but the "straight" print was the best - sweet and easy!
    So, does this mean my technique is improving, or just a coincidence? Should I discard the negs that won't print like this, as inferior exposures?

    Matt

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