Thursday, 16 June 2016

Do you ever wish?

I wish I hadn't bothered going in the darkroom yesterday morning.  I thought I would re-visit some older negs to produce something for the wall.  Nothing worked.  I mean, nothing.  After a while I realised most of the negs I was trying to make a silk purse out of were, in fact, sow's ears.  Too little contrast was the problem for most of them and the prints were coming out flat as a pancake even after ramping up the contrast filtration.

I have a sneaking suspicion that part of the problem lies my workflow, specifically, with scanning the negs, which is the first thing I do after the film is dried and cut.  I do this mostly as a sort of a digital contact sheet, to see if any are half decent.  Of course some scans end up on this place.  Trouble is, I think, that when I bring the scanned image into my favourite software and hit 'Auto contrast' or whatever they mostly all look fine, when in actual fact the negs can be poor.  The software is too good, basically - it can rescue poor negatives far too easily and therein lies the problem. to proceed.  The solution of course is the most obvious - don't scan.  Get my feedback from the darkroom.  Perhaps then I'll learn better how to produce better negs - ones that are easier to print.

OK, so here's a real print - of the usual place, Portstewart Strand.  Not sure - I might have posted this before, so apologies if it seems familiar.


  1. I love the light inside this print, Michael. And that lovely light stripe running along the beach in front of the water really makes it worth looking twice.
    That said, I know exactly what you're saying. Same trouble over here with the negs as they seem to lack some of the quality I would like them to contain. Seems like under exposure is the usual stuff these days, at least at times. I have been thinking a bit about it, and as long as I know the facts I might even be able to do something about it... some day. I would think letting a half or full stop extra amount of light hitting the film would help... Then we all know it's not always as simple as that, as we home developers usually stumble around the place with chemicals as well, thus adding another variable into the quotation. And not only one as you then have mixing rate, temperature, timing and probably a few others as well... inside just one of your variables.
    Nah... life in this jungle has never been straight and simple. Still it's a great lot of fun anyway!

    1. Thanks for the comments, Roy. I think there is something in this one - I was trying to be bold! Not an easy one to print, though.

      As you say - good fun. And it feels real, working with these physical things.