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Week 8: My Work Placement - Printing Process

The last post in regard to my work placement was about developing a film roll. The next thing I learned was printing black and white photographs. Just like in my last post, I’m not going to go into details as this post is not supposed to be a tutorial. I just want to sum up my experience. The first step was preparing the chemistry which consists of developer, stop bath and fixer (and a water tank). All the chemistry is the same as when developing a film roll except from the developer. Each liquid also needs to be mixed with water. For the fixer and developer the ratio of water and chemistry is the same; 1:9, for the stop bath it’s different; 1:19. The next step was choosing the shot I wanted to print. When I made my selection I put my negative into the template and placed the template into the enlarger. Then I projected the image onto the easel and made sure the image was sharp. Dan recommended me to set the aperture on the enlarger rather higher (but not too high either) so the photo is not too dark. When everything was set up I was ready to do a test strip – in order to see how long I need to expose the photo paper to light. I placed a strip of photo paper into the easel, covered 4/5 of the photograph with cardboard and projected my image onto the uncovered part of the paper for 5 seconds. Then I moved the cardboard so only 3/5 were covered and projected the image onto the uncovered areas. Then I carried on until I exposed the whole strip of the photo paper to the light. This whole fiddling process seemed confusing to me at first but then it made sense when I saw the result. After putting the test strip in the chemicals, the areas that were exposed to light longer were darker and areas that were exposed to light for shorter amount of time were lighter. This gave me an idea how long I will need to expose the photograph correctly. I figured out it would be 25 seconds. Now I was confident to put a whole photo paper into the easel. Dan also advised me to add more magenta filter – for better contrast. I exposed the whole paper to light for 5 seconds. The areas in the image I wanted them to remain light, I covered with a dodging tool (so no light could get into those areas) and exposed the paper to light for another 5 seconds. Then I exposed the whole paper to light for 5 +5 +5 seconds again. So about 95% areas of the paper were exposed to light for 25 seconds and about 5% areas were exposed to light for 20 seconds. Now the magic part! When the photo paper had been exposed to light it was time to put it in the chemicals. Starting with developer. I put it into the developer and agitated for 1 minute but after about 30 seconds the image started slowly appearing (until then the paper was blank). Then I put it into the stop bath and agitated for about 30 seconds. After into the fixer for about five minutes and then the last step – put it into the tank with running water and left it there for another 5 minutes. When the print was washed properly I hang it up so it could dry up. After then, I printed more photos. Here are some results!

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Owen Evans
Owen Evans

Seems like a lot of intricate work!

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