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  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Well, it has been a busy spring for me. I have been bringing the entirety of my aerial shop home and that entailed designing a "shed," and having to deal with all of the water issues and lighting and everything. It has been non-stop for over 5 weeks with a VERY capable hired hand. The actual shop was built by a construction contractor but so much of the prep and finish work were left to be done by me and my hand to save money cause we all know how anyone connected with photography stretches a buck. . . we jurry rig! Plus I had an unbelievable amount of business this past month (yeah! not complaining, just really tired.)

    Anyway last night at about 1:00 am was baptism. First print in the new shop. Well, I have to say it is sooooooo sweet. Jeez I am one lucky girl, and love my job!

    Anyway, I notice right off one huge improvement that I think I know the answer to, but I am curious as to others comments or ideas. I'll try to list the variables that I noticed were different. So the print last night here versus the prints over the past five years at the old shop were so much better for range of tones, (these are archival films and are b&w). The whites were cleaner yet had more information, and the darks were rich but didn't overpower the subtly paler darks. It even looks more "silvery" for lack of a better word.

    Variables:

    1. The new shop doesn't have effective heat yet and the temperatures of the chemistry was just barely in useable range (I use Agfa and the low end on that is 78) and I adjusted with longer time.

    2. The chemistry was new, but it was new at the old shop at least once a week. Otherwise the measurements etc were identical except for one thing and that would be the water itself. At the old shop the water was so bad, I would use distilled water for the developer, but I really didn't for stop bath, rinses, or fixes. Here the water is better so I used it across the board including the developer.

    3. I love my new shop, and the freedom it will give me to expand the quality of my life and finances, and even give me time to expand my customer base. Maybe kharma is better?!?

    4. The camera is essentially the same but I do have newer electrical and dedicated such that when my neighbors turn on their things my lights don't dim. In the old shop, they did dim sometimes.


    Other than the above I can't off hand think of what might have been different.

    Well, as I get engery again and find new and worth mentioning stuff, I will try to tell the story of the move and how things are going and what I totally screwed up on, etc.

    Anyway, now you know why I have been absent for so long. The move only entailed activity for the past 6 weeks, but the planning and looking at options, and trying to be sure that at this point I didn't have too many oops's to tend, took long and lots. But gosh I know so much about so much now that I didn't know then.

    Hopin' you all have the greatest of weekends! TGIF!
    Embrace **it! **it. . .just another name for fertilizer. . . Grow baby Grow!

  2. #2

    Join Date
    May 2003
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    OOPS, that is supposed to read 78.

    And I just thought of another variable.

    5. The shop being cooler maintained a much cooler light deck than usual. The calibrating necessary to scale aerial film to plans can take a while and warm the lights a bit, well, at least in the old shop.
    Embrace **it! **it. . .just another name for fertilizer. . . Grow baby Grow!

  3. #3
    glbeas's Avatar
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    Sep 2002
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    Congrats on the new shop! I'll be looking forward to the Shop Saga!
    Gary Beasley

  4. #4
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    Nov 2002
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    Every darkroom has a distinct personality of its own - just as most of the other stuff in photography. I've had visitors who are appalled with the light leaks in mine.

    One unconsciously compensates ... I probably have a set of learned reflexes that I follow that allow me to produce good work (before anyone starts -- yes, to ME) in spite of the light leaks. If I worked in a darkroom without them ... it is different ... and I would have to work differently to get back to the same place.

    I'm a little surprised that no one here has mentioned "sequestering agents" - chemicals added to commercial developers to compensate for impurities in the water used to mix them. There was a discussion, many moons ago, where some suggested that distilled water was not a good thing in all cases, as the "sequestering agents" would have nothing to act upon, and therefore the overall performance of the developer would be, actually, reduced.

    I think that the most important deal in processing is not "perfection", but "stability." As long as things do not change we can learn to deal with them. Moving targets are tough.
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  5. #5

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    Mar 2004
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    A little while ago I innaugurated my home darkroom, and experienced the same things you mentioned. Coming from a college darkroom, my variables were greater in number (the paper being the only constant, actually).
    I moved from condensers to a color head, developers were switched (switched again today) and my entire work ethic suffered a major revolution.

    But I think that being able to work without people screwing up the chemistry, competing for space and creasing your prints was the major beneficial change for me. Not to mention being able to listen to N.P.R. or one of my CDs.

    And now my prints look gentler than before, and being more hands-on makes them feel more "mine" if that makes sense.

    In anycase, congratulations!

  6. #6
    noseoil's Avatar
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    Congratulations on a job well done! I was told by a contractor, about 35 years ago while hitch hiking across the US, that a woman can have babies, but a man can't experience this process. His statement was that the closest thing a male can come to this process is to create something of lasting value, to build. It sounds as if you now have the best of both worlds.

    On a side note, Gordon Hutchings mentioned last weekend that he was building a new darkroom. His idea for a sink I found to be a bit on the novel side. It was to make the sink out of wood and then have it sprayed with "Rhino liner" as a coating. This is the rubberized stuff they spray truck beds with. I thought it was an excellent idea.

    Anyway, congratulations on a great task. There is a wonderful sense of satisfaction involved in planning, building and then using something you have made.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Ed, I didn't read THAT post about the distilled water. Hmmmm. Well, now I wonder. I think I will test that next week. I still have a few light leaks and still managed fine this morning when the sun came up. But I think that with the production level I keep up, I will be fixing that.

    Noseoil, I think you just hit me one the head. I build like a man, and have kids like a woman. Thank you, a well received comment on my end.

    Andre, I bought this shop in June of 2001 from two old guys. I knew nothing about photography, nothing about aerial mapping, nothing about pre-press negatives or halftones. But I saw these two cameras, and I said to myself, "man, I could have some kind of fun with these!" and I have never looked back. GOD, I LOVE MY JOB! I got 30 half days of "training" and handed the keys.

    So I don't understand most of the time what you all are talking about in your darkrooms, because mine is just so different. And I guess I have been told you all don't usually understand what I am talking about. BUT...
    I can certainly imagine the annoyance level I would experience if I had to share my darkroom with anyone whom I wasn't in charge of, ie an employee or one of my children. I have thought maybe to take a photo class at the local university, but I don't know. I have seen great "by ear" musicians kind of loose their . . . . awesomeness, when they tried to go back and get a formal education.


    I'm so sorry, I probably sound like I'm gloating but honestly I am just so pleased that everything has gone so smoothly. So far not one thing has shown itself as a problem. So my relief at not having the usual problems with moves this size has turned to extreme JOY!

    By the way, I am never behind the camera the way you folks are. I am a darkroom craftswoman, not a photographer, per se. I think with Donald Miller's and Ed Sukach's occasional guidance I am starting to grasp some what is discussed here.

    Well, clearly I have been a bit talkative tonight. So for now I will go. Get some rest. Unload boxes tomorrow. I hope I will have a chance to really tell of the move in a cohesive manner some day, but right now it is all pudding. By the way if you want to better understand the cameras, go to

    http://www.acticameras.com/products.htm

    I have two Camera/Projectors as my mainstay.
    Embrace **it! **it. . .just another name for fertilizer. . . Grow baby Grow!

  8. #8
    Jorge Oliveira's Avatar
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    Karma helps a lot!
    And a new darkroom increases anyone karma.

    One day I might get a real one...

    Jorge O
    Curitiba - nice place to live, if you don't care about the weather...

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by inthedark
    I have seen great "by ear" musicians kind of loose their . . . . awesomeness, when they tried to go back and get a formal education.
    And I haven't seen anything in formal (artistic) education which differs too greatly from trial and error (keep in mind I'm in a community college right now). Most of the theory one can learn alone, and the rest can only be learned by doing. In my case, a formal education in photography will (hopefully) do 2 things: Keep me shooting & give me a nice pretty piece of paper with my name on it. Knowledge is aquired by the student, not given by an institution.

    So, whatever it is that you do, keep doing it for as long as you're happy with it. You have my blessing, even though you didn't ask for it and I have no earthly idea as to what you do with those process cameras.

    :-)

  10. #10

    Join Date
    May 2003
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    336
    Thank you for your blessing.

    The copy cameras and their 8 enlarging lenses, make it possible for me to shoot negatives up to 24 x36 inches or enlarge from negatives up to 12" x 18" and print sizes up to 50" x 100" AND enlargements from 10% to 4000% (4000% is taking a 35mm negative and printing it straight to 36 x 48). BUT it is important to remember that I bought a business that USED to provide 90% of the pre-press negatives for the region. they collapsed when they didn't go digital. I simply fell in love with the cameras and have tweeked them into color and b&w photographic enlargers. When I bought the shop the aerial prints were printed using a little 10 x 10 box enlarger with a series of mirrors and four pieces of glass against a copy board that had window plastic as the overlay. Really ugly. And the copy cameras were virtually untouched anymore. Once or twice a month maybe.

    So I designed and had the Acti people make a bunch of upgrades to handle aerial film. Then I re-created my light decks a couple of times till I had good color printing while maintaining a 20x24 inch cool (here I mean cool to the touch) light source (dichroic doesn't come this large in a reasonable price.) And the Acti allows me to be virtually glassless. The only interference from the negative to the print is the lens and the copyboard glass which is this spendy super clear stuff. The Acti is also micrometer trammed to guarantee that the corners of the vacuum chase back for the negative, the lens board, and the vacuum back copy board are "perfectly" parallel eliminating corner blur entirely.

    And honestly since the only other enlarger I have used is the little box one, so I find the speed and ease of use of these cameras is sooooo time saving. I mean I can print over 100 prints a day even if they are from different rolls of film, different scales, b&w or color. Virtually no cleaning between shots, no delays from for re-focusing because the micrometers allow for focusing once, recording the readings, then anytime I have for example Kodak 2444 film and want a 1000% enlargement, I just slap it into place and do a quick double check on the focus. Also because of the way the copy board is a pass through rather than solid, I focus with a 35x loupe right on the surface that the emulsion touches. Not reflected and hopefully close to the right plane for the emulsion. God I love my cameras.

    Anyway, I have to get back to setting up the office here. Thank you again for your interest and blessings.
    Embrace **it! **it. . .just another name for fertilizer. . . Grow baby Grow!

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