Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Long Silence

  The title of this post has a two-fold meaning.  Firstly, i haven't uploaded a post in absolutely ages,  and i'm sorry about that.  The past few months have been hectic and i just haven't been able to get into the darkroom to do any printing at all.  I was hoping to finish the series this post is dealing with off and upload all the images together, but as it looks like i won't be back in the darkroom for (what feels like) eternity i thought i had better upload the first part now.

  This post is about one of my favourite photographic subjects - abandoned places.  Regular readers will know that i love to get into abandoned buildings and take photos.  A few months ago i finally found my way into Whittingham Asylum, a large complex of buildings not far from where i live.  This place is without a doubt the biggest explore i have done and it was amazing.  I barely scratched the surface of what was available to see and i ran out of time before i had even covered a quarter of the complex.  I definitely need to go back.  And soon.

  For me, urban exploration photography is all about texture.  Peeling paint, rotting wood, crumbling walls etc all catch the available light and enhance the texture of photographs.  When inside i shot a roll of old Portra 160NC and a roll of Ilford FP4+.  When home I developed both rolls and decided to start printing the colour first as i hadn't done any RA4 in a long time.  It didn't go too well as i kept getting light leaks on my paper (it was a sunny day, there must be a hole in my shed letting light in that i need to plug).  I got one print that i liked as shown below:

  I decided to ditch colour for a while and concentrate on the black and white roll.  The problem was that what with the roofs missing from parts of the buildings, there are areas of extreme highlights on some of the walls.  Some of the shots i took are unusable because i just couldn't retain highlight detail.  I printed a few of the other frames but i just wasn't happy with what i got.

  I decided to try some shots in lith, but i didn't want the extreme contrast you get with some papers like Slavich Unibrom - that would have resulted in even more highlight loss.  I decided to use some Agfa Brovira (G3) i had recently come into as I knew it would give a nice even development but still retain that nice lith look.  Brovira has a "softer" lith effect than some other papers and highlight detail can be retained much easier.

  I mixed up some LD20 and made the first print, which took about 25 minutes to develop:

  After a good wash i toned in Selenium 1:5 for a few minutes which altered the highlight colour from a pale yellow to a slightly pinker hue which i preferred.  Normally i use a 1:9 ratio to avoid a pronounced colour change but still affect contrast, but used 1:5 as i wanted a colour change on this print.

  I then decided to print the chair photo mentioned earlier (i shot it on b&w as well as colour, just in case).  This took 45 minutes to develop, fortunately i had my stool and stereo with me (possibly the 2 most important items in any darkroom)!

  As before i toned in Selenium 1:5 but i cut toning short once the highlights were being reached (selenium toning starts in the shadows and moves up) to retain the yellow hue.  This image is naturally contrastier due to the light coming in through the windows and i think the cool greys of the shadows works well will the warm highlights.  The straight print of this is nowhere near as good as the lith version in my opinion.  Sometimes an image just needs lith.

  I have still got a few more frames to print which i will hopefully be able to do this weekend, failing that next week.  As soon as they're done ill get them uploaded and posted here.  In the meantime keep printing and ill see you again soon.