The Online Darkroom Store

Friday, May 31


This is an old 6x9cm Mamiya Press negative from the days some years ago when I used to quite enjoy lugging that heavy beast on a tripod into the hills. Not quite a Phil Rogers' nine-mile hike with a huge 5x4 outfit: more a 20 minute jaunt from the nearest parking space, but still... The film was HP5+ developed in dilute Perceptol, a great combination.

I've been finding my way in the darkroom again and am slowly beginning to feel a little more comfortable and I just fancied having a go at this negative after it caught my eye when I was looking through some old neg files.

The biggest problem I'm having is picking the right contrast grade. When I was spending a lot of time in the darkroom, this wasn't much of a problem but, for some reason, I'm printing too flat to start off with.

The test strip to the left was my first one and, at grade 2, is too low contrast. The middle strip had an exposure of 15 secs with those either side having a half stop difference. I went up to grade 3 and down to a quarter stop (for greater accuracy) for the strip at the top of this post. The important thing was to get some separation between the bridge and the land in the background. I also wanted the crescent of river to the right to sparkle a bit. The basic exposure was 12 secs.

That gave me the information I needed to produce the print below on Ilford Multigrade FB. The basic exposure was 11 secs on grade 3.5 as I felt it needed just a little boost. The sky got an extra 18 secs with much of that concentrated on the top part because I didn't want to darken the hill top too much. The edges were burned in by a quarter stop all round.

I'm quite happy with the result but I feel it could be more atmospheric. If I'd had some Farmer's Reducer to hand, I might have tried printing it a little darker at grade 3 and using a weakish solution of the reducer to cut back the highlights. I'll be ordering some "supplies" in a few weeks and will add reducer to the list.

* UPDATE: My daughter has just asked me, "What's that line in the sky?' I hadn't noticed it before but it was really obvious when she pointed it out. Doh! It's a lighter, vertical line just to the right of the bridge uprights. It seems to be a streak on the negative that you have to look really hard to see. Now that I'm aware of it, I see a few other uneven spots in the sky that the scan has accentuated. Must have been uneven development. Just pretend it's not there. :-)


rickster said...

" Just pretend it's not there. :-)"

Amen, a good philosophy.

Just found your site via a Hexar AF post at rangefinderforum, and it's a delight!


Thanks, Rick (?). Are you a Hexar shooter as well then?

Anonymous said...

Negative scanning will show every little defect! - found this out the hard way.
If it was easy it wouldn't be fun; print scans are a little better but only just (probably my lack of skill but hay ho....)
Great site you have, good to see someone reminding the world that film is not dead.



Thanks David. I had a look at your blg and love the prints you have of the steps in Oman, particularly the second one. They look superb on my iPad. That's what black and white is all about - light and shade.

Marty said...

You're up and running with your darkroom, I see.
As a first print in a long time you got an excellent result. And I like too the philosophy of " just pretend it's not there". On the other hand I have to say you schooled well your daughter in being a good observer, most people I know wouldn't even have noticed the lighter line in the sky ...

Cheers, M.