Tips from the Darkroom

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Bob Carnie, Mar 23, 2011.

  1. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I don't disagree. Even at an advanced and experienced level, skilled burning/dodging (sometimes with different filters) is usually all that is required. Specialized techniques are usually reserved for specific situations. And depending on the subject matter and your aesthetic preferences, you might never need complicated techniques. Certainly a beginner shouldn't concern himself with things like masking. I don't even think split grade printing should be taught to a beginner.

    But the impression I get from Bob's posts is that this has less to do with the experience level of the printer, and more to do with time-consuming/complex procedures, masking, printing maps etc. being silly PERIOD. This I cannot agree with. And there is just too much evidence this isn't true.
     
  2. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    Michael- I thought Bob's original post was based on teaching beginners. Much of it I agree with, while a few don't work for me. But, I think that's the whole point. Darkroom work is a vast, wonderful world. Everyone's expectations, and desires, are different. That's the beauty of this pursuit. One never stops learning. After 4 decades, I'm still learning. In fact, every new thing I learn makes me aware of two things I haven't learned. Gotta love it... :smile:
     
  3. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    while specialized techniques ( masking, densitometry, sensitometry ) may be valuable to a printer
    they are not simple techniques that someone starting out in photography needs to know. i've been making prints
    since around 1980-1981 and to be honest i have never learned about densitometry + sensitometry. to me they sound
    like subjects to learn about to have deep conversations with other photographers about log curves &c,
    ... not the kind of things that will help someone just learning how to print.
    like bob, i also worked for a portrait photographer and made prints from 8am-5m almost day monday - friday, and sometimes saturday
    for about 10-11 months. i did take 15 mins - 1/2 off for lunch and and between 9-10 time to process about 100-200 sheets of film ( 5x7 ) daily as well.
    there is nothing like making prints to teach you how to make prints ..
     
  4. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    John, if it was about beginner vs advanced I'd have no beef with it. But this stems from the other thread with the printing maps. Bob was adamant printing maps are nonsense. Post 52 in this thread appears to be a continuation of that line of thought.
     
  5. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    Hi Folks,

    Bob's post about 300 prints was a response to my question and I asked something fairly specific about dodging and burning. Even in my question I guessed that the main answer was going to be experience and practice, and I think Bob's answer to me confirmed that and I appreciate it.

    As for all the business of sensiometry and masking and other advanced techniques, I have no opinions. I do however have plans to make many more prints :smile: and I intend to enjoy doing it.

    Clive: quantity does not equate to quality, but working with a large number of diverse negatives, and with each one trying to to achieve what is desired as a focused exercise in trying to learn what works certainly would achieve a great deal. Something that goes along with this... some of this learning is not verbal: I'm not able always to *say* how I'd like my prints to improve, yet over the past year I've surely improved and am finding printing easier and more satisfying. I expect this to continue ( as I gain a greater quatity of experience and practice! )
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 21, 2013
  6. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    When I make images, and prints, I pay a lot more attention to sensitivity than sensitometry. :smile:
     
  7. Chris Lange

    Chris Lange Member

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    What he said. :whistling:
     
  8. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    How clever of you. Too bad you didn't actually read anything I wrote.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 21, 2013
  9. Chris Lange

    Chris Lange Member

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    If you're talking to me, no Michael, I actually agree with much of what you wrote. I myself use various forms of masking (both on film and with cutouts) to produce certain prints. I think the crux of the issue is that a beginning printer should not concern themselves with the numbers behind the tones in their print, they should just adjust one variable at a time to make a print look good. Somewhere in the middle a printer expands and refines his/her toolbox to incorporate a large number of advanced techniques, and I feel the rest of the time is spent sorting out which ones actually make a difference in your work.

    I don't follow any hardline workflow, I just f**k around with it until it looks right. Doing that repeatedly has made it fairly easy for me to print most of my negatives without having to resort to using any sort of "advanced" printmaking methodology. But when I do have a negative that needs it, you bet that I'm happy to have those skills in my toolbox.

    I print like I cook, not the other way around, that's all...
     
  10. rbultman

    rbultman Member

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    Any specific texts anyone cares to mention?

    Regards,
    Rob
     
  11. OP
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    Bob Carnie

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    Ok so some people need curve shapes, some need complicate masks to make a print, others need just simple tools.

    IMHO and only my opinion, printing should be fun and very simple, otherwise over a lifetime one will take on other avenues of entertainment , lets say golf, or play a musical instrument.

    Micheal- I use sensitometry every day to control my process, probably more than any single person that I know that loves photography. I assume that also would be more than you , but hey you may be the next Ron Mowrey and I tip my hat to you.

    But when I am under an enlarger, by the flick of my hands I can make a print, and for sure the densitometers are outside the room.

    All my posts are directed to those wanting to learn a simple way of making prints... and yes since I use the magic bullet of Split Grade every single print its in my notes... You may think its voodoo and since this is my thread as the OP you can leave any time you like and don't slam the door.
     
  12. Chris Lange

    Chris Lange Member

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    Bob, when I changed my printing method about a year and a half ago, a great deal of it came from reading just about anything you've written on APUG in respect to producing prints, and then tweaking it to fit my preferences.

    I don't think you have to prove your methods to anybody...
     
  13. OP
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    Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Michael

    It seems over the last year you have been targeting me with your posts and each time you follow with a lame apology. This post seems to me quite odd where you are cross referencing my posts from thread to thread.

    Whatever floats your boat dude... I will not see your response on this thread or any other for that matter as I have decided to put you on ignore as you simply have nothing concrete.. To Me.. anyways to add here on APUG.
    I will not follow your posts from this point on so that the impulse for me to do what I think you are doing to my posts will not be possible.

    Bob
    QUOTE=Michael R 1974;1549884]John, if it was about beginner vs advanced I'd have no beef with it. But this stems from the other thread with the printing maps. Bob was adamant printing maps are nonsense. Post 52 in this thread appears to be a continuation of that line of thought.[/QUOTE]
     
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    Bob Carnie

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    hi Ned

    You may surprise yourself.. the TEST does allow you to make contact sheets for reference... I did not mention in my post, So you do have the chance to make three contacts of each film so 45 in total.. one normal , one under and one over.

    by staying on the same roll you can use your contacts for reference... if a image looks good beside the next one you pretty much have the balance nailed.

    You can then observe the darker and lighter contacts to see where you are going to want to go, if you do the unders and overs in 1/2 stop setting then it becomes a bit more easier..

    Once you start you will find the only thing you are doing is dodging and burning and looking at density and contrast..

    the first day is the hardest for everyone I have asked to try this test.. the second day is much easier and as you can guess the third day is liberating.

    regards

    Bob
     
  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I'm fortunate to be a member of a photography club that focuses on film and the darkroom. There are about a dozen active members, and their experience varies from extensive to near-beginner.

    The members have a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, temperaments, experiences and approaches to darkroom work. I always like to joke that if more than two people in the club agree exactly on anything other than how good lunch is than a miracle has occurred.

    I have a feeling that if Bob and Michael were to become members of the group, we would have the advantage of two additional very different perspectives about printing. We would also have lots of great prints to look at.

    And hopefully, over those great lunches, they would enjoy making their case to each other about how best to help the newbies in the club.
     
  17. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    I agree with Bob that printing a lot, and in a short amount of time, teaches you more than most anything else. During my last year in college for a degree in photo, I took a job printing in a lab. The work there did more to improve my printing than any of my own projects simply by demands of quality, volume, and time. Printing my own photographs got much better during and after that experience, s when I got to graduate school, my printing was well beyond my peers.

    Another thing I did to improve stemmed from a project I was required to do in grad school. It was designed to provide the means to choose what look you want for your work. I duplicated this assignment just this past month. I used one negative that printed well without dodging and burning (it still needs some for a fine print, just not for this) and chose two different papers (Ilford MG, and MGWT), seven different developers (Sprint, Dektol, Selectol, Selectol-Soft, Ansco 130, and Ansco 113 which is an amidol formula, with two different dilutions and times), then each of these was toned in a different toner (selenium 1:3, 1:9, and 1:19 for 5 and 10 minutes each, Kodak Brown toner, Kodak Polytoner 1:4, 1:24, and 1:50, reveresed Sepia I, and reversed Sepia II). This made a total of 196 prints to compare tonality, color, and contrast.

    Bob, I will send you the prints on MGWT with the reverse sepia since you said in another thread that you had never heard of it before. Just tell me which developer you want to see it with.
     
  18. OP
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    Bob Carnie

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    Greg I would like to see it with Dektol . I assume you mean selenium first then bleach sepia ??
     
  19. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    Dektol it is. Reverse sepia means putting the print in the Sepia toner first, then bleaching partially, then placing it back in the toner. It gives cooler browns with deeper blacks than regular sepia. I will send you both sepia I and sepia II since they came out differently.
     
  20. OP
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    Bob Carnie

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    interesting... yes I would like to see this test. thanks
     
  21. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    Thanks for the encouragement and I know that when I'm working from a single roll often the base exposures are really similar... I often can guess to within a few seconds just by looking at the negative and the easel. I can easily imagine this would go even quicker with a contact sheet. And it's certainly true that it does not take long to make a print once I've got my times figured out... the part that is time consuming for me is the test strips to get to those times. I usually spend about 1 hour per print, which is typically 2 test strips, then a "working" straight print, then one or more "finals"... if I just want to change my dodging/burning a little, that last one goes fast. For me that's the fun one.. you have all the work of basic times figured out, and you know you will see the results quickly now! Also I take my test strips much further than just to get base exposures, so they often provide lots of information about how much to burn or dodge.

    I can see that doing this exercise over a shorter time could be more beneficial, so I'll think about ways to streamline a bit more. One thing that could speed me up a whole lot might just be a bucket of water to put the prints in ( I have no water in my darkroom ).

    Thanks again, I appreciate it.
     
  22. OP
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    Bob Carnie

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    Once you establish your time, and the images on the contact is similar then you do not need to do test strips, If you are light or dark by a bit its no big drama.
    the idea is to just print... free yourself Willy.

    Home depot makes the under the sink plastic holders to hold prints.. but I feel your pain with no water in the darkroom now that is tough.

    But my last workshop in California showed me something I have never seen, out side drying of prints on screen , depending on the day the prints dried in front of my eyes
    it was fun..
     
  23. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    Ha! I've gotta admit that sounds fun and liberating and I probably could make a hundred prints in a day this way. I need some more 8x10 paper soon anyway, so I'll see about bigger boxes for my next order! Cheers :smile:
     
  24. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Well I guess Mr. Carnie won't be reading this, but I'd like to try one last time to clarify my position.

    Nobody ever said sensitometry makes better prints. It is just knowledge. Prints are made by eye, with creativity, experience and skill.

    For the record I've never taken any swipes at Mr. Carnie's skill or experience as a printer, and I don't understand why he's always offended when I happen to disagree after he takes a hard line position against methods he doesn't personally favor. In fact, I believe more often than not we have been in agreement regarding the use of one's eyes rather enlarging meters and other fancy gadgetry.

    I've only tried to point out that once one has practiced a lot and gained experience, adding techniques like masked flashing (for example) to the "tool box" is not necessarily a useless endeavor. While they aren't necessary procedures in most cases, I have also seen some wonderful prints that could not have been made without these seemingly arcane techniques. I have also seen wonderful prints that are difficult to make and require a lot of work, even for the most brilliant workers. As for KISS, of course this is a good policy. I think I could make a pretty good case for things like split grade and outflanking actually being more complicated for a beginner than a more traditional methodical approach, but I won't.

    With all due respect, while "tips from the darkroom" was good, in post #52 for some reason Mr. Carnie took direct aim at people discussing curves, theory, printing maps, etc. Since I regularly participate in those kinds of technical discussions, but am also passionate about printing, I think it was acceptable to try to make the point it isn't all silly nonsense. Any piece of knowledge acquired, or technique learnt can potentially be of value.

    As far as saying I have nothing of value to contribute on APUG, I find that fairly offensive. I try to present the most accurate information I can. That's a far cry from most of what goes on here.
     
  25. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    ned

    you will not believe yourself when you have made 100 prints, or 200 or 300 prints in a day
    it is kind of insane, but when you get in the groove ( similar "If you are light or dark by a bit its no big drama" as bob says it )
    you will be on fire.

    no need for crazy tools, just your eyes ..
    john
     
  26. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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,