Enter the darkroom part 2

Consider these as my acknowledgments after a few days of printing:

Print quality – It`s really sad to think that most people don`t get their photos on paper. It`s a very nice feeling and the Ilford FB Standard paper that I tried seems very nice. I especially enjoy the matt surface because it doesn`t reflect light, makes details easily visible and gives a soft but present contrast. Grain, to my amazement, doesn`t seem at all obvious; most of the prints that I did were from a Delta 100 ISO film (which, by the way, I`m never using again for outside shots because of it`s lack of exposure latitude) but one from an HP5+ pushed to ISO 3200 came out quite fine. I still need to work on it but I don`t see a reason why not to use high-speed film for snapshots from now on.

Washing and drying – Washing Fiber Based paper takes about 40-60 minutes. I tried drying prints on a flat surface but the curl is very obvious. I guess that`s one of the disadvantages of working with FB. I did however try and press the prints between some books and they turned out fine after a few days. Even more efficient is pressing the prints while they are still wet. I must be careful though because any water remaining on the surface will probably leave marks. My only problem regarding this thing is about scanning but hopefully it should work fine.

Cropping and bordering – I found out that 35mm enlargers cut out part of the image so I decided to try a medium format enlarged. This solved the problem but introduced a new one: if the frame you want to print happens to be the last on the cut-out piece of film, you may have trouble getting it straight. I`ll have to work on this. On the other hand, I can now add black borders to my images by using part of the unexposed negative as well in the print. Of course that means that i`ll have to redo all of my prints, which will probably happen at the end of the term when I get some free time.

Split grading – using different grades for different parts of the print. So far I haven`t had any consistent results but anyway, the way I figure it out, you shouldn`t use grades too far apart because the effect may become too noticeable.

Taking notes – I find this very useful because once you start writing down exposure times and grades for each print, the next time you want to redo the print you don`t have to start from scratch. Of course that means using the same enlarger and paper size each time. If you decide to do a large print for an exhibition…it`s back to square one. I can now see why buying the enlarger is so important.

So far I have had a few good prints but also some disappointments. Many images need a lot of work (and paper!!!) in order to look proper and sometimes it seems impossible to find the right timing. The way I see it, I should be able to get a decent or even good print by using just 2 sheets of paper: one being cut out as test strips and the other as the image itself.

It seems more efficient to do just one image at a time each day because that way you can concentrate on what it will look like, based on strips.

I tried being a cheapskate and using very small strips but then I realized I didn`t asses the image properly and had to do another. In the end you`ll get the same amount of used paper but in a longer time.


I haven`t scanned anything yet so I can`t show you anything. I expect to have them probably near the end of the term when I`ll have an entire set about Birmingham.

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