Category Archives: Darkroom

New prints from my darkroom

So, again I went into darkroom

to make new prints from my darkroom.As you know, after lessons at Adrian’s workshop I’ve learned a lot of new useful ‘tricks’ which helps with obtaining good results. Of course, most important is rather this what is on the picture and not the print itself but I think I have this what’s interesting to me so I’m in good place! It is hard to scan on home scanner prints with good enough quality to show you how those look like in reality but even though, if you’re slightly more experienced than new-comer into darkroom world, you’ll catch what I’m talking about. I have definitely improved my skills I think.

Sunflowers on the garden table.; sunflowers; Kodak tri-x 400; fine art darkroom print; new prints
Sunflowers on the garden table. Aug. 2018

 

Some of my new prints I’m trying to ‘modify’ by burning particular areas to obtain specific effect. Not always it is easy and I can’t say I’ve managed to obtain this what I needed. In this occasion I tried to simulate that old boat/ship is emerging from the DARKNESS, but this what I’m getting isn’t quite this what I need. See below….

 

Old boat in Maryport; wooden boat; old ship; Kodak try-x 400; fine art print; darkroom print, new prints
Old boat in Maryport in north England. July 2018.

I like the colour of Ilford Galerie paper and its contrast. I have learned from Adrian that having good quality water, I don’t have bother with Kodak Photo-Flo! I caused sometimes some problems whilst prints were drying. Once are dry, on a surface were visible strange stains… It happens occasionally completely out of control so it is hard to narrow down what’s causing it. Now I know! It was Photo-Flo. I still use it with negatives though.

 

Next time will be better and now, enjoy seeing pictures in the below gallery – some of them have been printed earlier.

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Darkroom workshop | Adrian Ensor

Darkroom workshop with Adrian Ensor

Recently my girlfriend announced me that for my birthday gift she prepared something special! Of course it didn’t take me long to pull out what’s that from her 🙂 It turned out it was a workshop with one of the greatest darkroom printers and also great photographers, I mean with Adrian Ensor here in London! You can image how happy I was. I’ve been waiting long two weeks for that day. I knew I had just 8hrs to learn as much as I can during this time. Obviously I need to prepare questions to outstanding things which no one else was able to give an answer. I thought to myself that it is great occasion to learn lots of things which I’ve never been good with. 

My list consisted:

  • Better dogging and burning
  • How to better control contrast
  • Flattening the final prints 
  • And all other small details which by observation I can learn

Finally that day came!

We’ve arrived at agreed 10AM on Saturday 4th of August. Adrian has been waiting for us already. We drank a cup of coffee and we’ve been talking about the plan for a day, ideas and of course we were looking on my pictures which I brought along with me.

 

Darkroom workshop, Adrian Ensor
Darkroom workshop with Adrian Ensor

My negatives are pretty good as I’m following my friend, Roy Snell, who advised me how to develop them properly. Negatives are well developed but these are developed in my own way to have many details in lights and shadows. It requires though, to use higher paper gradation.

Adrian instead suggested me to use stronger dilution of developer to have more contrast on them and for my needs it should be easier to print. I agree with both masters (Roy and Adrian) and I think I could treat them as two separate solutions for particular photographic ways of making final prints.

Here we are looking on my prints which are still wet but by putting them next to each other we can better asses situation and find out what else need to be changed to improve them.

Darkroom workshop
Slawek and Adrian Ensor during workshop.

 

Here is the final print

Portrait taken by me. Light was very bad (my mistake) but Adrian and I, we’ve done great job and portrait looks great! Grade 5 and some dodging helped!

Darkroom workshop; Adrian Ensor
Final print.

 

Here is the summary and my book signed by Adrian!

I’m really happy having it signed as I did learn a lot from it. I know I’ll be getting far much more from it in the coming years as I’ll be coming back to it to rejuvenate my skills and improve my prints. 

darkroom workshop with Adrian Ensor, Adrian Ensor
Slawek and Adrian Ensor with signed book for me.

 

It was great day! But it is not the end of a journey, I’ll be visiting Adrian frequently and we’ll be talking about photography and many other things too. Adrian did lend me great biography of Bill Brandt (btw. I lived next to the block in Kensington for two years where Bill Brandt used to live).

Printing in a darkroom

How to print in a darkroom

This I’ll learn from my friend Roy, who is a darkroom printer from London. Working with Roy, I can learn tons of things which I wouldn’t be able to learn from books, conversations with other amateurs, internet articles or blogs. This is amazing to me and also it is great addition to our friendship! We’ll be working together on materials which I hope we will be able to produce to the highest level. Where sparkling highlights will be signing and shadows will be warm and full of details.

Focomat IIc and De Vere 705 enalrger, darkroom printing
Focomat IIc and De Vere 705 enalrgers.

Last Saturday we’ve been printing for our first client – Janie

who brought her old and never printed negative film. This film has been sitting in a drawer for around 50 years. On that day it has been for the first time, put into Roy’s De Vere 705s enlarger. As a matter of learning we’ve been learning how to properly get good contrast keeping details in shadows and clean fully detailed highlights. Roy showed me how to properly dodge the print. I think I need to exercise on this as my dodging is really poor… I’ve never been good on that so I always wanted to avoid this but it looks like my time has come… :D. I need to get down on it and finally learn how to do this properly.

Roy’s darkroom

is the most unusual in the world… I had a great pleasure to be able to print and feel the mood being there with all those warm lights turned on. Roy with his enormous engagement was helping me with all those small details. He’s ready to repeat the same things five times unless I understand the layout, process and how Roy has been doing this for many many years. This is hard to describe what amount of knowledge he is giving to me. All those small details like agitation, temperature of my chemistry and workflow direction. Combining all those bits and pieces makes me so “rich” in this matter.

Idea to create it like that

This is not a secret that my darkroom has been inspired by his own. I have tried to create my own place very comfortable and inspiring. Being in my darkroom is real pleasure making pictures. Mine doesn’t resemble cool and white laboratory. It is warm and calm place where classic music sounds gently. There are no noisy and distracting cooling fans. Slight smell of chemistry surrounds me from everywhere.

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Zeiss Ikon 6×9 | film developing

…120 negative type film developing in an old-school darkroom using Zeiss Ikon 6×9 camera

Here is Zeiss Ikon 6×9 camera which was produced in 1932. We bought it in Liverpool this year. This post will evolve as I’m going to add a new sub-website with darkroom news. I will show you how I develop negatives and do a prints. This will take some as I this process is pretty time consuming but there’s no rush with it.

Please enjoy with me of this what will happen here and that’s my first video ever! 🙂

 

Or the other view of the same camera… I’m trying to show you how that camera looks inside as many people never hold such piece of metal. To some people it’s even hard to image that 10 years camera can work. That one has been produced in approximately….1932. Mine other Hasselblad came out in 1971 so it’s older than me and produces great pictures.

 

These movies are only the beginning. The rest of the process including all steps I will include later on – in coming two/three weeks as some negatives are awaiting for development.  Till then let’s play with the themes for pictures. My favourite is “Portrait of my family”. We’ll see how I will went through it … 🙂

 

 

23 September 2016… and it’s time for some updates!

I have some pictures which I took using my old friend Hasselblad CM500 and using very old Polish START S66 cameras. Both have great lenses and I’m happy to show them to you.  All scanned pictures weren’t corrected or changed in Photoshop as it happens very often on some websites. It would be no point to do so as it states in opposite to see them developed in traditional darkroom.

The first one below taken using START S66:

boat on the water
Boat in Clevedon. Wales, UK

 

The second one has been taken a few years ago when almost whole Polish government has been killed in an airplane crash in Russia. People taken on the picture were gathering on the streets next to the President’s palace in Warsaw.

lech kaczynski's death
People on the streets after Polish President’s death. Warsaw, Poland

 

 

The next one shows Portobello Market. This particular shows a booth with old cameras. Taken using START S66.

portobello market
Stand with old cameras on Portobello Market, London

 

 

That’s my favourite! The Pier in Clevedon, Wales in misty and foggy evening. I like this picture most as it reminds  me my holiday. The only thing is, that is was raining all the time 🙂 We have finished that day in a pub!

pier in clevedon
Pier in Clevedon. Wales, UK

 

How I’ve developed those pictures..

Those scans do not show pictures’ quality which is pretty good. I have developed them by putting them onto developers bath for 10 seconds each and them I’m moving them onto clear water bath for a 1 minutes without any agitation (!). It’s important to not move them during that minute as developer gathered on the picture’s surface is developing the picture and the agitation will remove it! After 1 minute picture has to be put back again onto developer for next 10 seconds and again moved back onto water. This process has to be repeated until picture is developed properly in “lights” and “blacks”. Pictures are developed using split-grading technique. Enlarger has to be equipped with colour head or B&W head. The other very good option is to use Ilford Multigrade filters which should be place under the enlarger’s lens.