G'day guys,

Well, having sat on the prints for a good few weeks since first looking at them, I've pulled them out again for a fresh look and to give my thoughts. I have to say, this is always my favourite part of the exchange, not just getting feedback on my prints, but seeing what others thought of all the prints in general, and seeing where these agree or disagree with my own thoughts. Always a great learning process, I just wish more of us had the time to sit and write a meaningful critique!

Andy, no offense taken, of course. Having sat on the prints for a while now, they do seem a touch dark, the light bleaching of the main trees definitely lifts the tone of the whole picture, I'm really disappointed you all couldn't see that batch though! I have a version up on the wall that I sepia toned, which of course slightly lifts the shadows, and it looks just about perfect to me, I'll have another crack at this one, because I really like the picture.

Ged & Enrico, thanks for the constructive replies. I was wondering who got the package with the two prints in it, thanks for your comparative thoughts on the two Enrico, you encouraged me to pull out a print made on Ilford Matt. To my eye, I didn't notice too much of a sheen to the Foma, but the Ilford did seem to have much more 'depth' to it, and almost a velvety (ie, soft & tangible) quality to the blacks. I'm still coming to terms with the Foma, so time will tell if I can get more substance out of it. I'll keep your printing suggestions in mind when I revisit this one. Thanks for the positive comments Ged, you must have scored a good one Bleach dilution is by eye, to a deep yellow. I'll admit, I didn't try split grading this one, in the past I split grade printed EVERYTHING, I'm trying to get out of that habit and concentrate on getting as much from a print with a single grade as I can, but maybe you're right, this could be a good candidate, another approach I'll consider when revisiting this one. Regarding the fix after bleach, yes, twice, the only thing I can is that maybe, somehow, some bleach had found its way to the fix tray and was floating on top...???

Okay, thoughts:

Tomalophicon:
I really like the soft, pastel tones. Most of my colour work is done with Velvia, so seeing landscapes in Portra is always a very nice surprise, very soft and sympathetic to the gentle morning light.

SMBooth:
I like the angle & cropping you've used, when trees are involved I almost always find myself either including the whole tree, at least one end of it (top or tail) or going very close up, the way you've shot this makes it a very interesting picture, leaves my eye curious about what's above and below the framing! Well exposed & printed to capture the misty morning.

Munz6869:
Great angle! SMBooth & I sat in his kitchen trying to work out just how you'd gotten this point of view before we read your description, good job composing and capturing the shot as you zoomed past, had you anticipated this shot, or was it just quick reflexes? The range of tones you've got are fantastic, the ship is well exposed and not blown out (except a couple small areas of the balconies at the front?), yet we can still see most of the way INSIDE the pier! Very well controlled print, good one.

BarrieB:
As was said above, what a shame about the yellow filter! That yellow, or possibly even orange (??) filter would really add another dimension by bringing the sky in. Now I can't tell if it's my eyes, or perhaps I'm just looking too close, but is the whole print just slightly soft? Using the same (taking) lens you have here, and even the same film I've been finding a lot of my prints just not quite as sharp as I'd like. I had thought it might be my enlarging lens, so it's very interesting to see another print using mostly similar equipment.

Nige:
Don't you love it when the old 'sunny 16' comes together and gives you a well exposed neg?! You've obviously captured plenty of detail in all areas of the print, I'd love to see what you could do with some dodging and burning tricks, I'm picturing Wyno's print of Simpsons Gap from a few exchanges ago (perhaps just because the 'shape' of the scene is similar), I think this could become more than just "another holiday photo". I'll admit, when I first looked at your print I went into 'critical observation mode', ie, "Look at those trees, I wouldn't call that sharp, up close they're just a hazy mess!" (I know, it's a bad habit, comes from a selfish obsession with sharpness in my own prints), however, pull the print back from my nose and I realised the whole print, ESPECIALLY the foreground trees, is just FULL of texture. Held out at arms-length, that forrest almost looks soft and fury, I want to rech into the picture and run my fingers through it, very well done!

Hoffy:
The simplicity of this is great, I like how you've composed it with the two major focuses on the far edges, leaving the space in the middle. A nice Stephen Shore tribute, in that, at first glance, it's a technically good picture of 'nothing', but as you look, there's the basis for a story starting to emerge... The broken swing? The childs swing facing away from the view?

Oxleyroad:
What a great angle, and good depth of field for creating a 'feeling' print. I can understand why you'd want to go back and re-shoot it, but, I think this is fantastic, print it big and embrace that grain, dust and all round grittiness! I can see it as a very 'arty' picture, where from across the room it looks good, but up close it almost becomes an abstract.

Ged:
What a fantastic picture, from capture to production, well done! I really like the old-timey feel of this one (maybe due partly to the subject, as well as your technique), it looks like a picture you'd find in a 'History of Rural Italy' book. I'd be very interested to see/hear your process of bleaching the entire print, other than bleaching for sepia, I've only used selective bleaching on certain areas, so dipping the whole print is something I'd like to hear more about. Does that (relatively) quick dip in the high dilution just help to bring those highlights out a bit more?

Enrico:
A nice composition of some neat old 'junk'! I really like the tones in the wood and the lifting tin. As was said above, going by your description, this would look amazing in muted colour.

Andrew K:
The dark horse again, great job mate! You've inspired me to have a play with stereo images, I remember coming across a stereo camera in an antique shop last year and thought it could be fun to play with, but not at the price they were asking. I never really thought about it again until now, fantastic idea blending the prints the way you have to do away with the old bulky viewers. Of the bunch, I think the one of the girl on the bench works the best, it is simpler with a definite foreground and background, next would be one of her posing by the rock, followed by the shot of the photographers shooting the train. The others are good pictures, but I find the many different 'depths' make then harder to view, and not quite as clear. Still well executed, they just don't have that crisp definition of depths that the others do, I never have been good at viewing 3D pictures though. Just don't send us one you have to stare off into the distance to see next time, I can never get those to work!

The 110 portraits, similar to Oxleyroad's print, I could imagine them bigger, maybe even just an 11x14. Between the two of you, you're inspiring me to leave the 4x5 FP4 at home for a day and make some grainy 35mm pictures!

All in all, a great exchange guys, good job to everyone, and huge thanks to Andy for putting it all together again, I think we need a meetup just to all buy him a beer.