Monday, 16 June 2014

A Break From the Norm

  By now you're probably fed up of seeing me post landscape after landscape.  I'm sorry but that's pretty much all i've been shooting lately.  Not even a shipwreck has crossed my path in the last couple of rolls i've shot.  I did, however, shoot a test roll when my wife got her new Pentax 67 (yes, i have converted her from digital - jackpot)!  There was one frame on it that i decided would potentially look good lithed. 

  So, i loaded up the enlarger, focused, chose some ancient Foma Neobrom 211N paper and set about making a test strip.  Imagine my surprise when the print actually developed well.  This paper is old.  Really old.  It's in a paper packet and even the lightproof sleeve is paper!  Surprising, then that it developed so well.  In fact, it developed so well i decided not to lith it and just make a straight print.  Fortunately the paper i had was the right grade (2 i think) and so i chose an exposure, burned each edge for 1 stop extra to provide a nice border and developed in Ethol LPD 1:4.  The keen-eyed among you may note that this is a cold tone paper and i'm developing it in warm tone developer.  Deliberate!  The final print gave of a lovely sharp silvery tone which was a delight to behold (until i obliterated it with toner that is).  As always my hand ended up reaching for the selenium toner.  I gave it a few minutes in 1:5 toner until it started taking on a warm brown tone, then i slipped it into some bleach (after a wash of course) and gave it a slight sepia hit in the highlights.  This resulted in the final print:

  Yes - rectangular, not square!  It's not one of my greatest images but i think it's ok.  Sometimes it's nice just to be able to blast out a quick print without having to go round and round sheet after sheet after sheet of paper (speaking of which - i have a post coming up soon which covers an absolute demon of a print).

  So what do we learn?  Sometimes it's nice to print something simple and easy to give yourself a confidence boost and to get those juices flowing again!

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.