As Jess works at a hotel she doesn't have the day off so i dropped her off at 7 this morning and then headed straight into the shed to start printing. Now, i recently shot a friends wedding on film and had a few frames left over which i went on to use on the coast at Lytham. I decided to print one of the shots from that roll which i really thought would let me get creative. You see, i've been very inspired lately to give my printing skills a boost. The book 'Creative Elements' by Eddie Ephraums is to blame entirely. I saw it sitting on a shelf in a used bookstore and had a thumb through. It looked interesting enough so i bought it and ever since i've been dying to have a good go at some negatives. If you're into darkroom work i highly recommend you get this book. In it Ephraums basically goes over ten or so of his shots and explains in detail how he got from camera setup to final print. You know those shots you take and when you print them they just look dull and uninteresting? Prepare to be inspired to dig them out again! That's all i'm saying for now - if you want to know more then get the book!
So, i decided to try and apply some of the things i had learnt from Ephraums' book to the negative i was planning on printing. A straight print from the negative is just a bit...well...meh. it's nothing special, very grey and flat. Considerable dodging and burning was going to be required to get on paper what i saw in my head at the time of exposure.
To start with i did a test strip (i should note that i have started using the f-stop printing method and i find it so much easier than dodging and burning by time - i'll be using this method from now on i think) and chose 18 seconds as the correct overall exposure time. This gave me the tonality i wanted in the wood, which is the most important part of the picture. The highlights were spot on where i wanted them but the shadows were weak, even though they had good detail. I decided to step up from grade 2 to grade 3 to give the shadows a kick, even though it would mean a little loss of detail in the shadows. I kept the exposure time the same and after processing the paper i was happy with the final result.
Now came the fun of trying to realise the print i wanted. I ended up using a lot of trial and error (and paper!) trying to get the sky how i wanted and getting the foreground nicely burned in etc. You can see what i finally decided upon in my notes below:
After a good washing i bleached the whole print back in potassium ferricyanide/bromide 1:7 for 5:30 whereupon much of the highlight detail in the long grass had disappeared and some of the cloud highlights were starting to go. I washed again and then sepia toned to completion. After another wash i toned in selenium for 1:30 which gave the print a little kick.
Finally after all that work i got this:
And i'm really really happy with it. It was so nice to focus in on one print and really work it. Figuring out the dodges and burns required to get the print in your mind onto the paper beneath the enlarger. Ephraum's book was invaluable in giving me the kick i needed to get creative. I'm really looking forward to the prints to come. have a few projects in mind and i am hoping to apply the new skills i've learnt to those too.