Great thread. BTW, I'm new around here...well, new to participating, I've been reading APUG for several months and I thoroughly enjoy the levels of expertise and courtesy. Hello to all!
My darkroom practices can change from session to session. 75% of my printing is pretty straight, but the other 25% is a different story. Often the determing factor is my level of commitment to the negative. When I'm excited about a particular image I will experiment with several interpretations before deciding on a "final" print. Many images work well with different croppings, contrast, and highlight details. Yeah, this takes time and materials, both of which I'm often short on, but the rewards are often worth it. Many a time I've exhausted a fresh tray of developer working just one print. I suppose this might put me in good company!
If a negative is not worth the time needed to bring it to life, then why bother? You should be able to tell if an image is going to work or not after the first few pilot prints. File it away and select another to work on.
I know in my early years learning to print, it took hours, days to get it right the way I wanted. Now, with plenty of experience under my belt, time and paper costs have been reduced, intuition takes over.
When you think about it, within the short span of exposing the paper, dodges, burns, flashing, developing, archival processing, toning, whatever your proceedure, photographers create their works. There are only so many variables in that process to work with. All the technique in the world will not save an image if there is nothing there to save to begin with.
Time & tides wait for no one, especially photographers.
Good one Sean,
Printing is the hardest thing in photography for me. So many variables, so many avenues for interpretation, so many choices to sift through, so much control. If I have'nt explored the variations that come to mind, how do I know that I've made the best print possible? Did I settle for the easier path? When I look at the print later, will I know deep down that I gave up? Will I see within it more potential? Will it haunt me?
A print is a Fine Print when it has recieved the least amount of heroics needed to attain Fine Print status. For a couple of my images that would be an edge and corner burn, the rest need more attention! My goal is to never let my hand be seen...the viewer must accept that dark threatening cloud as a fact, and not know that it really was light gray on the contact print.
It's a very very rare day when I get a Fine Print in one twelve hour printing session.
That said, I'm haunted by prints sold twenty years ago that I THOUGHT were Fine Prints...maybe I'll cringe at the prints I'm doing now in another twenty years...