Tag Archives: darkroom printing

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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