Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Optical Printing Practice

Today I received a very large package containing 450 sheets of paper from the post office, so I was very excited to get to work tonight on practicing printing. I am currently still printing as of 4:00 a.m.! While I wait for my last couple of prints to wash I thought I'd write a post.

When I first got into shooting film I had absolutely no intentions of printing optically in a darkroom. I was sending all my film out to be developed anyway. When I finally started developing my own I got the itch to try darkroom printing. Classes at the local university ended up being unworkable in my schedule, so I never was able to try it until recently when an excellent deal came up in Atlanta for an enlarger setup. I snagged it and decided to give it a try by myself.

Printing in the darkroom is both highly enjoyable and rewarding as well as fantastically annoying. Even after reading "The Print" by Ansel Adams I still had no idea where to start. I finally bought some cheap paper and just started fooling around. I am still in the very beginning stages of learning this craft but I am make a lot of headway just practicing.

Today I am especially happy that I figured out how to use the paper easel I bought. This fiddly bit of equipment holds down the edges of the paper and enables you to make a border on the image. I could not figure out why the paper automatically had a huge border until I found the adjustment screws on the easel today. I did not have a manual and had no idea that it was adjustable like that! Perhaps it is obvious to a seasoned printer.

Here is a couple digital shots of my printing station and some prints drying. Note the glare of water from the prints.

I was lucky to find a large lot of paper on ebay for about a quarter of what it would have cost from a retailer. The boxes were banged up but the paper is working just fine. I bought mostly fiber paper, as I found the tonality better than RC paper. I got 400 sheets of 8x10 paper and a 50-count box of 16x20 (which I can't even use until I get some bigger trays!!). I am on the prowl for some affordable 11x14 and maybe some 5x7 paper to round out my supply, and then hopefully I will be set for a while.

I also shot a roll of 35mm tonight of some bands at a Halloween event and will hopefully have some scans tomorrow for display, so stay tuned!

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