As I STILL haven’t replaced my broken Bronica SQ-A body I am stuck without a camera. That being the case I have hardly been in the darkroom at all lately. I managed to get an evening a few nights ago though and decided to dig through my negative file and see if there was something I missed. I ended up looking at some rolls I had shot on holiday in Scotland earlier this year. I had printed most of the good frames from it but there was one frame in particular I just couldn’t get a print I liked from. It was of some mountains in Glen Coe close to dusk and the shadows were all blocked up. I was in a rush at the time of exposure so it’s not really the best negative I could have got from the scene, and what’s more there are spots, marks and scratches all over it (bad processing on my part)!
I decided that maybe it was time to give it another try. I went through a few sheets of paper but couldn’t really get anything close to what I liked, and those spots and marks were an annoyance. I decided to try and lith it and settled on Agfa Brovira as my paper of choice. With Brovira I can get a good range of tones and it still retains great highlight detail so was ideal for this situation. Plus with lith marks and spots annoy me much less for some reason, maybe it's because of the gritty nature of hte final print.
I mixed up the developer, exposed the paper and slid it into the tray. It took about 25 minutes to get to an appropriate snatch point, but unlike most of my other prints I pulled it just before the shadows became too dark. There is shadow detail in this negative that would be lost if I let the blacks fully develop – a road and the texture of the mountainside – and I wanted them to still be discernible in the final print.
I’m pleased with the final print, there are patches of a golden yellowy tone that appeared upon drying. I’m not sure if that’s to do with the lith process or just down to the age of the paper, I like it anyway. I’m starting to run low on Brovira so I need to start saving it for the most important negatives, or find someone with a huge stash for sale!
It just goes to show how important it is to keep going back to old negatives as well as printing new ones as your printing skills improve with time and you may be able to get more from your negative than you could when you first tried.