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  1. #1
    Sean's Avatar
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    Printing.. Do you keep it simple?

    A few random thoughts since I'm finally back in the darkroom...

    I am curious how far members take their printing efforts. Do you keep it fairly simple? Such as a test strip, adjust contrast, time, dodge/burn, finished. Or do you crave a more complex approach to squeeze every last bit out of your image? Do you believe finding a balance is necessary because too much complexity and effort hinders your enjoyment? I think I am trying to find a balance of production that I am happy with, yet not making things so complex it becomes a chore..

  2. #2

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    Depends on what satisfies you. In my experience, as time has passed, my awareness of what constitutes a fine print has changed. Consistant with that has come a simplification of process.

  3. #3

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    Sean I will never be able to consider myself an expert and the older I get the simpler I like my photography. When printing I do a test strip and decide which filter to use if I need to and the time. Then I do a straight print at the grade / time I have decided on. Then I do a second print dodging / burning as I feel. Then maybe a third or fourth print changing the dodging / burning before I put it to bed and move onto the next.

  4. #4
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    KISS. Always KISS.
    Semper Fi & God Bless America
    My Photography Blog

  5. #5

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    Oh yes, I try to keep it simple. Very complex prints I do find a chore also, although perhaps more satisfying when a good result is obtained. Personally I prefer a natural look to a print; that is I guess without obvious signs of manipulation. It allows me to enjoy it longer.

    That being said, there are one or two negs that come to mind that I just know could produce a good print .... but haven't yet.

  6. #6

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    Sean, the answer to that is easy compared with reality. Personally the fewer tricks required during printing an image the better. Every time you burn and dodge an image you subject it to unpredictability. Invisible layers of information from scattered light as reflected by burning tools or dogging restraints. With that said no image is ever perfect as exposed and processed. I know I've processed enough of my film over the years that my system has evolved. Evolved to a point where much of the test I used to do is no longer necessary. This is so important because you learn that the darkroom effort are only 15% percent of the actual effort required for the final print. To me the two keys for success are: fundamental exposure as related to the subject. And developing a process for your film processing that refects the light range for the image on the film.
    Every scene has its unique assets, and finding or understanding these assets is key to exposure. Then exposure re- emerges through processing. Once this equation becomes second nature then in the darkroom you free up brain space to be creative rather than trying to solve problems and being satisfyed with just re-producing the scene. We are not copy-machines! This equation is a personal journey, one that every self respecting photo artist has to take. There is certainly enough data out there to get close. And it is not rocket science. This personal journey starts in the darkroom with all this testing you are talking about then that testing should be used as a basis for decisions you make while you are shooting. Then hopefully hopefully after a few thousand times through this cycle you will find that the darkroom effort reflects opinion of the scene you photographed.
    Stop trying to get into my mind, There is nothing there!

  7. #7
    rbarker's Avatar
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    Simple. Simple is good. Simple is tasty.

    Seriously, while I seldom do anything terribly complex when printing, I flip-flop a little on the issue. When I feel production-oriented, I lean toward printing a roll or two of 35mm negs with minimal manipulation. After 40 years or so, my negatives are pretty consistent, so I can whip out those 35mm 8x10s like Mrs. Fields' cookies. Large-format negs I spend more time on, and don't feel bad if it takes a couple of hours to nail a problem negative.

    If you're doing the work for enjoyment, productivity probably shouldn't be the issue. If, on the other hand, you're doing it commercially for $2/8x10, split-personality printing is more useful than split-filtration.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  8. #8

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    Sean, as I like to say, it is all in the negative. I keep it "complex" during the creation of the negative so that printing is as simple as switch on, countdown, switch off. Sometimes a burn here and a dodge there is needed but nothing more than a maximum of 3 sheets of AZO would not cure. When you work with the same materials long enough you kinda get an idea what is needed at the printing stage.
    Francesco

  9. #9
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    Me too! Simple is great!

    and yet, somehow I still find myself wanting one of those fancy RH Designs Analyser Pro timer/analyzers...

  10. #10

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    KISSing is good...but like life not always as easy as it should be
    Mike C

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