What is your "normal" printing routine?
Hi all -
I have been printing in the darkroom for a couple years now, with an earlier stint helping out in a commercial darkroom quite a few years ago. I've been reading the articles about Mitrovic Voja on TOP and I recall in the first article that when Peter Turnley first came to Picto looking for a job, Voja helped him out by printing something like 80 negatives for him in an hour. Now, I don't have any illusions that I'm in this guy's league and I'm not suggesting that those 80 prints were finished, D&B'd exhibition prints either. I am asking myself how could anyone do something like this? I mean, my main thing in the darkroom whilst printing is usually not quantity, but then again, it seems to take me quite awhile just to make a dozen or so 8x10 work prints for evaluation and I wish I could go a little faster with this. It occurs to me that I really have no idea how anyone else manages workflow in the traditional darkroom and I'd be interested to hear what your "normal" is. Here's my routine for a quick run of a dozen or more "workprints", (which I prefer over contact sheets as I feel good about evaluating negs on the lightboard):
Once I have everything set up, print washer full and running, trays ready (1 dev, 1 stop, 1 fix only)
1. Turn on lightboard to select negative to print
2. Using light from lightboard, load neg into carrier and dust off
3. Load carrier into enlarger, lights out
4. Focus in the easel on a used piece of paper
5. Guesstimate exposure from light hitting on paper and adjust as necessary
6. Enlarger focus off, into papersafe, load paper in easel
7. Expose paper 10-20 secs
8. Into to developer for about 35-45 secs
9. Into stop for about 5-10 secs
10. Into fix for about 30-45 secs
11. Quick look under white light for evaluation
12. White light off, into washer
13. Repeat for next negative, or for adjustment and reprint (if grossly off)
I don't use a holding bath for normal runs like this (or ever) as my print washer is right there. This whole process takes probably 3-4 minutes per print if I know all what negs I want to do and have them lined up, if not, add another couple minutes per print. This all works out to about 10-15 prints/hour and I really don't see how I could go much faster than this when I'm just printing for volume. I do recall reading that Voja put the exposed prints into a drawer and developed all at once for his 80 print/hour run in the article, but I still don't see how anyone could go much faster than this for a workprint run.
If I'm doing "finished" prints, my steps are pretty much the same, but often with a test print and some manipulation at the enlarger and usually several goes with the same negative loaded. Obviously, if it's FB paper than chemical times are quite a bit longer.
I wish that I could get the chance to work with a "master printer" just for a day or two. Maybe a workshop some time? I can't even imaging what all I'd learn from an experience like that. As it is, I have only my own council to keep and a few books to read to keep me moving forward in my printing progress.
How do you do it?
That's a great article on TOP, and one I'll reread a few times. One of the ways Voja saved time doing that many prints was by doing all his processing at once. He developed all 80 prints in a deep tank. Plus he is brilliant at what he does!
I've read about photographers doing matched prints that get processed in a batch, but I work pretty much the same way you do - one print at a time. Hopefully one of the more experienced volume printers here will chime in.
You would almost have to do your process with multiple prints to even get close to the aforementioned frequency. Maybe 6-8 at a time.
"Wubba, wubba, wubba. Bing, bang, bong. Yuck, yuck, yuck and a fiddle-dee-dee." - The Yeti
Chris - I understand and in no way was implying that I might be able to hit the rates Voja could apparently do. I'm just wondering what others are doing and whether there's something in my workflow I might do differently to improve my "throughput" a little, or maybe a better idea for a multiple run of the same finished print. Or something. Just wondering how other people work in the darkroom when printing.
Originally Posted by Christopher Walrath
It certainly helps if your negatives are similar in density and contrast, makes the guestimation much more accurate.
When I want multiple prints of the same negative, I just work until I get the final print that I want, then expose the paper for the rest of the prints all at once and run them through the chemistry 2 at a time.
Searching my way to perplexion
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People making large numbers of prints per hour use roll easels, video analyzers and automatic processors.
I have occasionally had to make a large numbers of prints, and yes a series of very deep trays (storage bins, actually) and parallel processing was the way to go. I used dilute developer and a 5 minute developing time so that processing could be somewhat even. 45 seconds for shuffling a stack of prints is just too short, IMO.
I was in Builders' Square (or whatever they call it these days) and noticed they had very heavy duty black plastic deep trays sold for mixing mortar. $5 for a 16x20(ish) size.
[/QUOTE]I was in Builders' Square (or whatever they call it these days) and noticed they had very heavy duty black plastic deep trays sold for mixing mortar. $5 for a 16x20(ish) size.[/QUOTE]
I need to check that out - do you think they are actually large enough to soup a 16x20 print in? I've tried several different things to improvise this, but always either way too big or too small. Thanks for the tip!
Murphy's law is never suspended simply because you want just the right size.
Originally Posted by Exeter2010
also when your negatives are consistence it is easier..
we sometimes expose for hours at a time, putting the prints in a light tight box, and then development later in the afternoon about 8 at a time in a 16x20 tray, with sheets back to back.
For what it's worth, this is my procedure: