In my previous blog post I mentioned that I wanted to turn some of my sheep photos into prints so that I could frame them and put them up in my knitwear studio.
On Saturday I had some time to visit the darkroom and I am pleased to report I managed to successfully do some 8 x 10 resin coated prints.
You’ll see from the cover photo, that I initially printed a contact sheet and selected several photos I’d possibly like to develop into prints. In the end, after lots and lots of test strips, I printed a total of three photos.
Here are the first two I enlarged from the 6 x 6 negatives into prints:
In the next print I decided that the people in the background were a distraction and didn’t quite fit in with the two previous prints I had done:
I therefore cropped the original photo on the enlarger so the final print showed just the sheep:
This did mean that less of the closest sheep was shown in my cropped photo but I actually didn’t mind this since I had a similar thing happening in the first print so felt it helped towards the cohesiveness of the three photos.
Needless to say, I am absolutely thrilled with these prints and am really excited about framing them and putting them up on the wall of my knitwear studio.
Following on from my recent blog about a visit to the Kaunos Ruins in Dalyan, Turkey, there were many photo opportunities.
Since my Hasselblad only takes 12 shots per 120mm film, I was able to try out some other black and white films whilst at this location.
Next on my list to try was the Ilford Delta 100 Professional 120mm film.
Normally in the UK I wouldn’t necessarily be inclined to use this film in view of the low ISO so thought a bright, sunny day in Turkey would be a perfect time to try it out.
I took these photos on my walk back down to the river from the Kaunos Ruins.
I was really happy with the detail of the trees in this photo:
I wasn’t sure if the next two photos would actually come out because I took these photos of the Donkey in very dark shade and light metered it as best I could. I’m therefore happy that I did manage to get the photos even if they are a bit dark:
I’ve realised that I’ve much practice to do on perfecting my photos of animals. The next set of photos were taken in a field where I had to climb onto a fence to take the photos. This was slightly awkward with the Hasselblad since its a camera I tend to ‘shoot from the hip’. The first two photos were ruined by a cow stepping its ‘back end’ into the shots as I took the photos and I slightly missed the face off the cow in the third shot but I can see the funny side of it because they are so bad:
The next couple of photos are of the Mountainside as I was walking back down:
I really liked this film and was pleased with the tones of black and white it produced. Once again, I was also impressed with the amazing detail thanks to the Hasselblad lens. I would definitely use this film again on a very sunny day.
I recently learnt that a majority of people who produce their own silver gelatin prints in the darkroom have to re-touch their photos.
Unfortunately, no matter how much care I take in keeping my darkroom environment as dust free as possible, it seems to be inevitable that dust marks still show on my prints.
The main issues I’m having with dust in my prints are largely down to using a Condenser enlarger (the Durst DA900) which show up any spec of dust so will need spot retouching afterwards.
There is also another type of enlarger called a diffuser enlarger and these types of enlarger give a slightly softer image than a condenser enlarger but they also don’t show up the dust the way a condenser enlarger does.
Since I belong to a community darkroom with only one enlarger, I don’t have the choice of being able to use the diffuser type of enlarger. However, I do like the enlarger I currently use due to the sharpness of the images it produces.
After researching online about how to avoid such marks, I realised that I would need to look at retouching them myself after the final stage of printing and drying.
I found some paints by Fotospeed which are made specifically for this purpose in black and white photos.
I also learnt that a sable hair brush would be best for applying the paint to the photos and I decided to use a 000 sable hair brush which I purchased from my local art store as I figured a finer brush would be more subtle for spotting/retouching my prints.
I unfortunately couldn’t find much information about the best way of applying the paint to my photos, although I did find one video on youtube but it wasn’t using the particular brand of paint I’m using.
I recently printed this Windmill photo which I took in Rye, East Sussex using my Hasselblad 500 C/M camera and Fomapan 200 black and white film.
As you can see, the sky is very grey in this photo and there are quite a few marks due to dust in the print. I therefore thought this would be a good print to test out the retouching technique.
The photo is printed on Ilford Resin Coated Multigrade IV Pearl paper and I printed a couple of copies to help me practice.
I learnt from the youtube video I watched that it’s best to put out the paints onto a white ceramic plate then slowly mix/blend until the shades match the part of the photo I’m trying to re-touch and apply the paint.
This actually was quite difficult to do on my first attempt and I’m not overly impressed with the results:
You’ll see that I’ve been quite heavy handed in areas and the paint is darker than I would have liked.
I’ve realised that whilst I started the process slowly, I began to get a little impatient and when I wasn’t seeing much progress in adding the paint, I started to make it darker too quickly which I think was my big mistake.
I also think I picked quite a difficult photo for my first attempt since there were quite a lot of marks on it to re-touch.
I still need to do some more research into the best way of retouching my final prints and I definitely need to practice a lot more to hopefully reach a skill level where I’m happy with the standard of the print re-touch.
In one of my latest Darkroom sessions I decided I wanted to enlarge a photo I’d taken of some logs which were outside a house I was staying at during a recent visit to Rye.
I had taken this photo using my Hasselblad 500 C/M camera and some Fomapan Creative 200 ISO black and white film.
I used Ilford IV Multigrade Resin Coated Pearl paper to make my prints. In the first print I made I used a 2 1/2 Contrast Filter and exposed the print for 5 seconds:
I was quite happy with the detail in the top half of the photo but I felt the detail was lacking somewhat in the lower part of the photo on the logs.
It was a bright, sunny day when I took the photo and I didn’t have a lens shade at that point to use on my camera. The lower logs were more exposed to the sunlight.
I therefore decided that this would be a good photo to try out the ‘burning in’ technique. I exposed my next print again with the same contrast filter and exposure time. However, this time I hovered some paper over the top part of the image and exposed the lower part of the photo to a further 5 seconds and this was the result:
I was pleased to see that the lower part of the photo was starting to show more detail in the logs. However, I felt the contrast filter I was using was lighting the lower logs a bit too much.
In the next print I decided to remove the contrast filter completely but I still ‘burned in’ the photo the same way as I had done for the second print and here is the result:
I liked the fact that you can see more detail in the lower logs but by not using a contrast filter, it made the photo darker overall. I also still had the problem of the little log that looks almost white in all of the photos. Although there was minimal detail on the actual negative of this log.
Perhaps I could perfect this photo even further but I wasn’t sure what would be next best to try. I don’t think I wanted to try any other contrast filters and all I could think is that I try ‘burning in’ some smaller areas a bit more.
A couple of weeks ago during one of my darkroom sessions, I decided to do an enlargement of a black and white fishing boat photo I had recently taken at Brighton Marina.
I currently use the Ilford Multigrade IV RC De Luxe photographic paper in an 8x10in size since I think this is a great photo paper for beginners and also I can use the Ilford contrast filters on it.
I used a masking frame easel whilst doing the enlargement and in my first print I came across some darkness at the bottom left hand corner of the white border:
I did another print and still had the same problem as in the above photo. I’m always very careful in packing the photographic paper away before putting the white light back on and I thought to myself that it must be a masking frame issue since I had never used this particular masking frame before.
I therefore taped the corner of the masking frame down from where this problem was occurring and was still getting the same black mark.
After several prints and much frustration wondering why the masking frame was not working correctly, I then made this print which ended up being a slightly different black mark to the other prints:
I then began to question whether it was a photographic paper issue after all and not the masking frame as I had initially thought.
Before making these enlargements, I had printed a contact sheet of some beach shots I had taken using my Hasselblad 500 C/M camera as I had recently got the developed film back from my local lab.
I decided to look closely at the the contact sheet and immediately saw the same issue in the corner:
At this point, I knew that it was definitely a paper issue and although I thought I had been careful with not exposing my photographic paper to white light, at some point, I must have not bagged this particular corner of the paper up properly so the whole batch of what was left must have got exposed.
Thankfully all was not lost as I was able to trim down the border to still have a nice print since it wasn’t on the main photo. I was also glad that I found out what the problem was as that was frustrating me the most.
All was not lost with the remaining photographic paper left either as I was able to cut the remainder of it up and use it for test strips.
I’m really hoping I’ll never make this mistake again and I now triple check I’ve wrapped up that photo paper properly before turning on the white light!
I was thinking today about the satisfaction I’ve had recently in being able to produce silver gelatin prints in the darkroom for gifts.
Whilst I appreciate that it’s a very personal thing to decide what photos you would like on display in your home, I’ve only gifted a couple of photos so far, to people who I know would love them and would definitely have them on display.
The first silver gelatin print I gifted was to my friend Clive, who went away with me last year to Singapore when we watched the Formula 1 Grand Prix there.
It was an amazing trip away and I managed to take a nice photo of Singapore using the zoom lens on my Pentax K1000 camera and Kentmere 100 black and white film.
I really liked the photo when I got it developed and practiced printing it on silver gelatin paper at my second black and white photography course at Varndean college. Here is a scanned copy of the print I did using a 3.5 Contrast Filter:
Clive saw the photo and really liked it. He had recently moved houses and said how lovely that picture would look framed up in his home office.
I therefore mounted it using white card and framed it in a nice black frame and gave it to Clive and he was really happy with it. It also felt like a nice moving in gift to his new home.
The second photo I gifted was to my husband today as it’s his birthday.
He is actually quite a difficult person to buy gifts for since he never really wants anything and if he does, he just buys it himself.
In the past I’ve taken him away on holiday for his birthday but due to current work commitments, he cannot take any time off work in the near future so I knew I wouldn’t be able to do this for him at the moment.
In fact, I think I felt more sad for him than he did at going to work today.
A couple of weeks ago, I had been practicing portrait shots with him using my Hasselblad 500 C/M camera and some Rollei RPX 400 black and white film.
I particularly liked a picture I’d taken of him cuddling our dog so decided yesterday when I was in the darkroom to make an enlargement of it.
Early this morning before he got up for work, I placed the photo on the mantel piece in our living room for him to see.
I’m pleased to say he really loved it and left for work with a big smile on his face. That was a great feeling for me knowing how happy I’d made him and I knew that photo meant more to him than anything material I could have bought.
I attached a copy of the photo in the blog heading but here it is again:
I suppose it’s quite obvious that there will be differences in a photo from being scanned onto a computer compared to if you print a copy of it in the darkroom.
I really noticed a difference in the contrast in a couple of my photos this week that I’d originally scanned using my Epson V600 scanner and then developed copies in the darkroom.
These photos were taken using my Hasselblad 500 C/M Camera and Ilford Delta 400 film.
The first image was of a close up of a tombstone in the shape of a cross with a tree in the background. Here is the original image that I scanned on my Epson V600 scanner:
I didn’t tweak the original scan as I was happy with the original exposure. As you can see, it isn’t high in contrast and there are many subtle shades of grey which is what I would have expected from the Ilford Delta 400 film.
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I decided to print an enlargement in the darkroom but I was surprised by how different the contrast and tones were:
I cropped the photo slightly as I wanted more focus on the tombstone and tree and I felt the extra detail on the right hand side of more trees took attention away from this. The biggest difference I noted though was how much darker the trees and shadow detail were. Also, the grass, tombstones and background detail were left with really nice shades of grey.
I next decided to do an enlargement of a tree image I’d taken on the same roll of film with the sun shining through the trees. I was keen to see how this would look in a print. Here is the original photo I scanned on my Epson V600 scanner:
I made no amendments to this photo at the scanning stage as I was happy with the exposure. As before, the photo consists of various shades of grey with no real contrast.
Here is the same image which I printed in the darkroom:
Once again, I cropped the image, this time on the left hand side because I wanted more focus on the two big trees with the sun shining through. You’ll notice that the greys are much darker on this print compared to the original scan. I’ve also lost the grey detail from the sky which was in the original scan. This gives the image a lot more contrast.
I used Ilford chemicals to develop both prints and also Ilford Multigrade IV RC Deluxe Pearl 8×10 paper. I exposed both images for 1 minute and I didn’t use any contrast filters.
Personally I prefer the darkroom prints over the original scanned images. I’m very keen on contrast in my photos as I feel this adds to the dramatic effect I wanted to achieve in these particular images I took.
Perhaps I could have achieved this effect too on the scanner by changing the contrast but I am just surprised by how different they look in print.
I’m very grateful to have access to a darkroom and I get so much satisfaction in seeing my images almost come to life in print instead of just looking at them on the screen.
I’ve also enjoyed messing about cropping my images to see how different it can make my photo look.
Needless to say, there are many more prints that I now want to develop in the darkroom to see how different they look compared to my original scanned images.
Lastly, the darkroom prints have also been scanned onto the computer using my Epson V600 scanner and they look the same as the actual print.
From my previous blog I explained that the Camera Museum in London provided me with a free roll of film when I purchased my Hasselblad camera from them.
The film they provided me with was the Ilford Delta 400 black and white film, which I had never used before.
I also explained in my previous blog that I didn’t have time to try out the camera in London and had to wait until I got back home to Brighton.
I was keen to try out the camera asap so the first photo I took was of one of my cats in my living room:
I balanced the camera on a foot stool to take this image and I was still getting used to the focusing screen so it’s the corner of the blanket which is really in focus. However, I still quite like the image and the way the corner of the blanket is nice and crisp. The exposure could be improved since my cat is really dark in this image.
The actual negative itself is marked and I’m not sure if that was because it was my first time loading film into the camera and perhaps I accidentally marked the beginning of the negative whilst loading since the rest of the negatives are absolutely fine.
I decided for the remainder of the film that I would go to Hove Cemetery since it’s nice and quiet there, which meant I could really concentrate and focus on how to use the Hasselblad.
I personally think it’s essential to use an external light meter when using the Hasselblad and I used one for most of the photos I took. I’m going to blog about the light meter I used separately.
When I took the camera outside and started to use it, I was extremely impressed by the bright viewfinder:
I’ve personally never owned a camera with an amazing viewfinder like this before. I also felt it really helped me in composing my shots.
Here are the photos I took:
This was the first time I had used an external light meter and I was extremely impressed with the results from using one.
I scanned all my images using an Epson V600 scanner and I didn’t have to ‘tweak’ any of the photos for the exposure.
For my first roll, I’m very happy with the results. I handheld the camera when taking the photos rather than using a tripod and I’m impressed with how crisp the images are. The lens is amazing.
I found the camera really easy to hold and use. It still felt fairly light to me and with the strap it just felt like I had a handbag over my shoulder.
I am so happy I purchased this camera, I definitely have no regrets and I’m really excited about shooting some more images with it. I can’t wait!