Re printing archive negs

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by David Lingham, Sep 5, 2018.

  1. David Lingham

    David Lingham Member
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    I thought I would share a little project of mine I’ve started recently, and ask if any other members have undertaken the same type of venture. ie: Re printing from old archive negatives.

    I began using 35mm HIE infra red film back in the late 70’s, and used it consistently right up until Kodak withdrew it. Going back over my film archive re printing with modern materials and the way I see and print today, is allowing me to make new interpretations of negs that in the past I struggled with, probably through my inexperience at the time.

    During the 80s and 90s I wasn’t impressed with multigrade paper, and normally used graded paper, usually Agfa G3. Graded paper contributed to how I printed HIE and the look of my prints. They usually featured only midtones and hilights, with blocked in shadows.

    Over the last 18yrs I’ve got to grips with the dark arts of both F-stop and split grade printing and made the new Ilford MG Classic my standard paper. What I now look for in a print has also changed as well, possibly more tonality, with less drama.

    Someone once told me, that when I eventually stopped using IR, I would discover midtones. It’s taken 30 yrs to find that he was right.

    There is also the counter argument that we shouldn’t go back, only forward, and progress with new work only.

    Tech spec: 35mm HIE processed in Rodinal, Nikon F2, 24mm with a 25A red filter. Split grade printed on Ilford Classic, partial sepia and selenium toned.
     

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  2. slackercrurster

    slackercrurster Member
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    Nice!

    Yes most of us evolve over time.
     
  3. dasBlute

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    One's cache of negatives are a treasure trove, full of oddities, missteps, and glorious ahead-of-their-time masterpieces in the rough just waiting to be brought to life with the deft touch of a master printing... we can never print them all, and of course do new work, but dig in your garden a bit and see if you don't find some diamonds...

    very nice print, superb midtones :smile:
     
  4. eddie

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    I go back to old ( a few decades) negatives every few years. It helps me gauge any improvement in my printing skills- I’m often able to get the print I wanted which I couldn’t get years ago. I also discover negatives which didn’t work for me aesthetically, then, but do now. I highly recommend the practice.
     
  5. adelorenzo

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    I don't have that many years of negatives to go back to but I had a similar experience. I went back three years to some negatives I'd shot on C-41 film and scanned. Looking back at them I selected some negatives -- many of which didn't even make the cut the first time -- and I made B&W fibre prints on my enlarger. They are to date the best series of prints I have ever made, all because I went rummaging around in my printfiles.

    Generally I am dissapointed in all my photos when I first see them. I almost never see a negative for the first time and think it's going to make a great print. Going back months or years later helps me pick out which ones might be good.
     
  6. jim10219

    jim10219 Member
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    The great thing about going back through your own work is that you generally lose emotional connection to the work over time. At least I do. I often forget I even took that shot or visited that place. The emotional disconnection is not quite true with family photos and such. But for my other photos, it's almost like looking at someone else's work. I find that distance allows me to be a lot more critical of my own work. I'm no longer hampered by self doubt or delusions of grandeur. I'm less worried about trying to force something to work, and more accepting of hidden beauty. I also find myself much more willing to judiciously crop a photo if it dates back several years. I'm no longer a slave to previsualization (which is a great technique, but it has it's flaws).

    The same thing with my other art forms. I have a bunch of old songs I've recorded over the years, and it's fun to go back and listen to them now. Every time I go back, I'm deeply amused. Some of those old songs are so well written, I'm surprised I was ever capable of such a thing! Others that I distinctly remember loving at the time, are cringe-worthy now. It's a weird mix of pleasant surprises and disappointments. I experience the same things with my old paintings and drawings.

    The detachment from the passage of time is an enlightening lens to look through.
     
  7. slackercrurster

    slackercrurster Member
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    With age...comes experience (hopefully)

    A 1973 print vs. a 2012 print...The Sunlit Slipper

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Andrew O'Neill

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    nice work. I always go back and look at old negatives, and sometimes am inspired... or I find something within that old negative... or it's a negative that I gave up on and figured out years later how to print it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2018
  9. OP
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    David Lingham

    David Lingham Member
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    Thanks for all the replies. It would appear that going back isn’t such a bad thing, and I’m far from alone. Seems a lot can be learnt by it as well.

    Discovering, not only forgotten negs, but ones that didn’t appeal at the time they were taken.

    Improvement, how your experience now lets you interpret a neg, how your seeing changes. I can see it is a valued process.
     
  10. blockend

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    Split grade printing allows for contrast and tonality, which is why I'm returning to my back catalogue, too. To dodge and burn on single grade paper, without creating haloes or shadows, required enormous patience and immense skill.
     
  11. jtk

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    I've been amazingly successful scanning and lnkjet printing early 20th century negs (see Media examples). That approach made tolerating silver papers inherent limits entirely unnecessary and produced much more total control.

    This week I've been shooting, processing, Nikonscaning, and printing Acros. Just ordered Acufine from Freestyle.
     
  12. jtk

    jtk Subscriber
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    I don't find the "detachment" Jim experiences. I find a more emotional experience, at least with some negatives. Perhaps that's something like "absence makes the heart grow fonder."
     
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