Regarding the neg size & print size comments -
Originally Posted by hgernhardt
I may work from 35 or 6x7... the project I'm obsessing over is likely more about "feel" than technical perfection. Of course, I may find that "feel" requires absolute perfection in printing. Right now, test images shot 35 with pushed HP5+ are pointing me towards some mild diffusion and low DOF; I really love how grain becomes sort of a "paper texture" when there's that many soft gradations, and it's something I worked on extensively in color, multiple exposures with 320T 35mm pushed up to 3 stops - a simply luscious look which I'd then dupe to 8x10 Velvia for client presentation. RIP 320T, I truly adored you. I have ONE roll in the freezer...
As far as commercial shooting goes, I came up in the film world and shot some cool projects and major brands and got a good rep amongst the shooters in my market as a guy who could light - all that to say, I'm not a newbie to this stuff overall, but this is the first time I've really explored rating B&W negs for personal development, the zone system, etc - commercial stuff was much more about accurate product colors, clean whites, etc., with a personal style and working quickly. So there is some newbie-ism for me (and how cool, learning huge new things after all these years).
Anyway - I'm somewhat influenced by Jan Saudek, but less of his "humor", not sharp/clean/clear, a little more amorphous. B&W on large emulsion canvas, hand colored and likely distressed all to hell as well. I'm slowly working my way larger, heading for 20x24 this month. I'm a little torn between a sort of hyper-real, exaggerated perspective of some of the european surrealist painters to a more ghostly, dirty look.
My plan, for those interested, for going really big: enlarger on a raised platform with a 4-way level-able base. A very large exposing and developing "tray", maybe 8" deep, on wheeled platform with 4-way leveling screws as well - some sort of 5-gallon valved wet supply through an inlet baffle, and a 4" quick-drain to 5 gallon buckets, and a wash drain for water. Test prints of the full image at 16x20 to plan dodging/burning, then full-size test sections on large segments of test materials dev'd in 20x24 trays, then finally a full sized take. If I go a little dilute with the developer, I should be OK with draining a tray quickly. Selenium toning if I need more blacks.
I live in a duplex where we converted it to one big house - my studio/office is the upstairs living and dining. For now there's a 20x15 kitchen upstairs that was just storage and the fridge and appliances removed. It's turning into a pretty killer darkroom space (if ugly) and someday will be gutted into a master bath, so running drains and supply (I have all the PEX tools - that stuff is just awesome!!!) and punching holes in walls and blacking out the windows - the wife is like "whatever, can I pose for your nekkid photo project soon?" I have a really wonderful wife!