It’s possible that it’s been 3 years since I stepped into a proper darkroom and made prints (at least that’s what my Darkroom Flickr album tells me).
So, mid October 2016 I finally booked myself into the Stills Gallery darkroom Edinburgh with a plan to see some of these colour images I’d been making with my M2 outside of my terribly damaged scanner with all it’s dings and scratches. As anyone who shoots colour film can attest colour negatives are hard to scan and make look semi-decent through #ScanClub so I like to print them in a darkroom to see how different they can be.
I really enjoy colour printing because the Stills Gallery darkroom has a colour processor which means no mess and no stinky dev/fix fingers, you drop your paper into the processor and it pops out the other end comfortably warm like a towel or clothes on a radiator.
I counted numerous images I wanted to try out, quite an ambitious number for sure but in reality unrealistic would describe it better. They were mainly photos taken with the M2 which were either street photography and family oriented but there were a couple taken with one of my Nikon F??? SLR cameras.
In order to easily record all my
mistakes prints I used the voice recorder on my phone rather than scrawls in a book though they do look better. I recorded the height of the head, the CMY values, the f-stop of the lens and the type film processing used. The paper I was using was the wrong dimension for 35mm film, 8″x10″, so I couldn’t make full sized prints but that wasn’t really a big deal.
I started with a photo of my daughter in the bath made with one of the Nikons and it took a few attempts to get the mind back around how its done but also the best size for the test strips as well because I sowed the seed of destruction for the colour processor as the first test strip was too small and got stuck in the processor, more on that later. The photo itself is blurry and wonky so ‘Illuminati Confirmed!’ on that photo, scan or not it isn’t that good.
I was reminded of how good it feels playing with the negatives creating these images and it wasn’t long before I got into the swing of it. I’m by no means a master printer, I’m a dabbler, a tourist if you will, but it’s still a great feeling working through the process.
Final scanned print which shows there are some marks on the negative, see spots on the forehead etc.
I quickly moved on from that photo of my daughter to a sort of family/street photo up on Arthurs Seat which immediately to look more interesting than the digital scan especially when I noticed the hand detail in the upper right corner. I thought it was a mark on the negative and thus cropped it out when I first scanned it but it’s clearly a hand holding a walking stick, it adds a wee bit of balance to the photo.
I actively dodged all foreground elements in order to burn in the sky a bit more, almost the entirety of the 22s exposure. It’s significantly darker than the scan but I still like it better.
I’m quite cavalier when it comes to photography and printing so looking at the settings I used for the Arthurs Seat photo I just went “fork it!” and made a full sized print of the next image also taken up on the hill which sort of looked OK-ish. It’s not a particularly good photo by any stretch of the imagination but has an odd zig-zag from the head top right all the way down to the shoes or cigarette.
I ran a couple of prints of my brother in law and nephew which was turned out to be a bit too dark in daylight and then another of my niece but the face on the negative itself was way over exposed and needed a lot of desperate burning/dodging to attempt to balance it out, in the end it looks far too yellow.
Then I made the mistake of attempting a print from expired cross-processed Konica R100 film. The colour base of the Konica R100 is purple so that meant the first print was pure green.
I then went though a myriad of combinations to reduce the green through adding Cyan and Yellow and reducing Magenta but it went on and on with little success so I gave up.
At this point I was starting to wear out the processor and my test strips were getting stuck on various rollers near the wash cycle so I knew things were slowly drawing to a close.
I decided to become even more cavalier by just throwing full sized test sheets at the processor to hopefully not get them jammed and just gamble with my previously recorded settings …
… and there it ended with all three of these trapped in the water bath of the processor. Rather than draw it out and annoy the guy that had to fish the strips out I called it a day and went upstairs to the digital lab to continue action in the digital world with their Hasselblad scanner.
Started in #DevClub but ended in #ScanClub …. :( … but still had fun getting there …. :)