Monday, 12 March 2018

Rita Ray of The Darts

A project has been formulating in my tiny head recently and for once I decided to act and not just kick it about as an academic sort of exercise.  You might recall (some time ago now) that I posted shots of the various bands that came to The Liberties back in the late 1970s - bands like Ian Dury, Dr Feelgood, XTC, The Undertones and The Darts.  Anyway, the thinking is to create a series of prints from those negatives and see what they looks like as a coherent set.  If nothing else, it'll make a pleasant change from the random stuff that I usually do.

I decided to print a little larger than usual - I've a bunch of 11"x14" Ilford Warmtone fibre paper lying about that I got from a professional who was selling all his darkroom stuff a while back.  It's the matt, or semi-matt finish and at first use it seems a bit dull and lifeless compared to the warmtone gloss RC paper that I would be more familiar with.  Too big to scan, so I took one of the prints outside to catch some early morning light and captured it on me phone-thing:

Rita Ray, of The Darts, c1978
It may be that this is as good as it gets with this paper, but since I was under the impression that it had a bit more punch in the darkroom it might well have suffered from the dry-down effect that is common when using fibre paper.  My next move is to do a few test prints to see if things can be improved.  From what I read, the general idea is to reduce the amount of time under the enlarger (around 12% seems to be the magic figure bandied around) which should mean the lighter tones, once dry, keep some of their sparkle.  The blacks can be returned to their deepest black though a little selenium toning, if required.

Rest assured I shall keep y'all updated on my findings...


  1. It's looking great! Of course I have not seen it up close, which usually makes them even better I know...
    Playing around with some selenium toner is probably a wise thing to do in this case, so please keep us updated about your moves and findings in that respect.
    I'm really looking forward to this series, Michael. I know you got a nice bunch of band photos from back in the days, so I will stay tuned :)
    Meanwhile I'm a bit on the lith-wagon... but I'm going to run out of fluids soon, it seems. I might need to get something ordered from over there soon. I need a few more bits and bobs as well, so I'll get that done before I come back home the next time.

    1. Thanks Roy. I think I messed up on the selenium on this print, mind you. I've two bottles on the shelf, one is 1+20 which is supposed to improve the archival stability of the print and the other is something like 1+3 which will deepen the blacks and eventually change the colour of the print if left in long enough. Unfortunately I used the 1+20 dilution so nothing visible happened in this print.

      Your lith work is looking great, btw, Roy. It's been a while since I did any're making me think about it again!