It's entertaining how you write the negatives change. That's what I meant originally. I need the idea to settle in my mind before I can go off to print it. It's like a musician thinking about a song in writing. I guess some of the songs just pour onto paper, while others fall into place piece by piece, like a jigsaw puzzle.
I really don't believe in rushing things along, that's why I like the proof print idea. The screen saver is a nice economical way of doing it.
I also like to print something, make it a keeper, and come back to print it a couple of years later. That has provided me with much entertainment. Even though I may feel ready to print a negative, it may continue to mature in my mind even beyond that point.
Thanks for all the good input, it's interesting to learn other people's approach! Keep it coming.
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I am exactly the opposite. If I don't develop and print as soon as I made the picture then chances are that it will never get printed. Part of that is there are always new nagatives, and the backlog always gets worse. I have actually made it a point to NOT go photographing when I know I wont have time to develop of print the new negatives right awa
". . . photographing as a two-way act of respect. Respect for the medium and letting it do what it does best- describe. And respect for the subject in describing it as it is. A photograph must be responsible to both."-- Garry Winogrand
"Art is just a Series of Natural Gestures
."-- John Marin
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I'm a little in-between. I practically need to force myself to wait long enough for the negatives to dry to make proofs. Then usually there are one or two that I get anxious to enlarge. But after that, I will wait and come back to the proof sheet a few times over several days at least before doing a serious printing session.
I will make proofs about a week or so later....mount those that I like and then put them on a rail on the wall for several weeks before I decide they will 'make it' into my portfolio....and while its on the rail I get opinions from family and visitors....if I don't like it, i will mount a photograph on the other side of the matt board, again for a trial run. Obviously, I don't sell these photos with images on the other side....I make another one.
I make proof sheets straight away and then spend time with a pair of right-angled pieces of cardboard going through various cropping possibilities. I guess I would do this on a number of different occasions for the same negs before making the first print.
8x10 RC prints are made as straight prints like Bill, I don't put them up anywhere but take them out and look through them often. I'll also show them to a mix of photographers and muggles to gauge people's reactions and see if that influences my feelings about the prints. I'm most interested in how the non-photographic people react and will often move a print from the maybe to the yes pile when a number of different people take an interest in it. I never move a print from the yes pile no matter how disinterested people are in it.
Only about half of those that make it to 8x10 make it any further, usually because a technical issue or "flaw" in the composition. Of those that do make it further I can usually, but not always, make a fine print that I'm happy with.
I don't think I ever "discover" a neg that I'd previously written off but sometimes I do go back a year or two and print a neg that I personally like but do not consider good/interesting enough for an exhibition quality print.
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Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson
Thomas, (I did not read any other replies so this or variations of it may already have been mentioned). But, if i'm going to contemplate an image for a long time, I would rather do it with an enlarged proof.
Do you at least make contact sheets; I make contact sheets soon after development? I look at my contact sheets to get a feel for any images that I think I may want to carry to the end. I don't fuss to much for the actual making of the proof as I did that during my "EI" and "N" dev testing and it wasn't that much fussing anyway, just some time well spent that pays off.
I don't know if you have standardized with the zone system or other system, but I know the enlarger height (for 4x5, 5x7, & 8x10 proof prints), f/stop, and exposure time I use to reach maximum black of the paper through a developed but unexposed negative, zone 0 (fb+f). I use this time to expose any negative very quickly for an enlarged proof.
I don't concern myself with any other aspect of the print as I already know it will receive further refinement. But, it also serves to let you envision those manipulations for as long as you want before making a fine print. It only serves as an initial insight to that image and it is very quick and gives me a print of my work to look at when just relaxing. And when you are ready to attempt the fine print, proceed with your normal methods. Test strip for the best highlight detail, contrast choice, etc.....
I simply place the negative in the enlarger, set the height for the size proof print I want, focus, set the timer to expose for the minimum time for maximum black (MTMB) of the paper at that enlarger height, and develop.
Exposing your paper for the MTMB, when you have standardized your EI and Normal dev time, will tell you instantly the trouble spots in the negative, or how little trouble it will be. So, keeping the fog level a constant in your developing enables you to poof any negative very quickly by printing to satisfy zone "0". Satisfying zone 0 at N+1 or N-1 will need different MTMB exposure times because their fog levels will be different.
You can use the enlarged proof print to play around with cropping, envision the tone manipulations that you will want to make for the fine print, stick it in a box and put it away to examine it later when you are ready to print.
Seems complicated when trying to describe, but it's really not.
I find that I'm always anxious to to view newly developed negatives even though the act of developing film is not fun, it's just a chore - I don't seem to need proofs because I like reading negatives directly on a light box - but as far a printing goes, I must be in the right mood.
The process of producing a fine print is time consuming but becomes extremely rewarding as the experience progresses towards the final satisfying print. If I have time but my mood isn't right the results are much less satisfying, or not at all. It's almost the same with building stone walls now that I think of it, some days I can't do it at all - I can't see what fits. I'm sure it has something to do what side of my brain is working.
"Pictures are not incidental frills to a text; they are essences of our distinctive way of knowing." Stephen J. Gould