Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The Thoughtful Cliff

  So despite saying in my previous post that i was going to update more i haven't updated in over two weeks!  Sorry!  But, good news - i have made my first print from my recent holiday to the north east coast of England, and here it be:

  I shot this on a very sunny day in the town of Saltburn.  It is printed onto Ilford MGIV FB Warmtone paper using Ethol LPD diluted 1:4 and toned using selenium 1:9 and a bit of sepia.  This is my first time using a non-neutral developer and i have to say i loved it.  If you are unfamiliar with LPD it is a wonderful developer which allows you to change tonality (not contrast) using dilution e.g. use it 1:1 for cool tones and around 1:4 for warmer tones (obviously tonality will depend very much on the paper you are using too). 

I like to think of the clouds as little thought bubbles coming out of the cliff. 
  I'm pretty pleased with this print, i really feel like i am starting to get into a rhythm and personal style with my printing.

  I made this print using the split grade printing technique, as i have done with so many others.  I did a soft exposure test strip, selected the best exposure for highlights (remembering to go a bit heavy as the sepia toning i had planned would lose a little highlight detail), then i did a hard exposure test strip and selected the best exposure for that (again, taking into account the added density that selenium toning would yield).  It's always good to have a good think about toning either before printing or during proofing so that you can account for any lost/added density that may result form the toners you use (that reminds me - i should really do a few tutorials covering toning).   I knew with this print that i wanted a selenium/sepia split so i deliberately overexposed the highlights and very slightly underexposed the shadows.

  So, after making a base print of my combined soft and hard exposures it was time to think about dodging and burning.  The cliff was looking pretty blocked up so i did a bit of a burn on the soft exposure and a dodge on the hard exposure - this evened out the contrast a little whilst maintaining the "pop" of the cliff.  Then i did a very slight hard exposure burn on the sky to add a little extra depth to the clouds (the use of a grad filter at the time of exposure had already helped darken the sky to a pleasing tone).  Then i did a bit of an edge burn around the sides and base of the print to draw the eye into the centre (i did this on both the soft and hard exposure).  I think this really works on the base of the print as if the sand was all the same mid tone the eye would be drawn off the bottom of the image.

  To finish off the print i did some very very light bleaching (followed by a fix) of the cloud highlights and the band of light across the sand (i used potassium ferricyanide/potassium bromide bleach from a sepia kit diluted 1:9).  This helped add a bit more "pop" to the highlights but i had to be carfeul that this combined with sepia toning would not cause any highlight detail to be lost.

  After a good wash (in my newly constructed print washer) i bleached back the print until the upper midtones were just starting to be affected and then toned in standard sepia toner.  After a quick wash i then transferred the print into selenium toner mixed 1:5 for a few minutes which added a nice dark purplish hue to the print.  I then did a final wash and left the print to dry before scanning.

  I'm really pleased with how this print turned out and i am loving Ethol LPD as a print developer.  I'm going to try some coldtone papers with it soon and a stronger dilution and see what effects i can get.  In the meantime i've still got plenty more frames to be printing from my trip away.

  I hope some of you have found this post useful and, as always, keep printing.

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