Spent the evening in the darkroom today – two solid hours of work and four finished pieces! It is always relaxing working in the darkroom. The work is methodical and I can lose myself in it, but there are still creative choices to be made, which staves off the tedium for the most part. The work is exciting, too – after playing with the exposure time on the enlarger and making your test strips, slipping the paper into the developer and watching the image you have been crafting from the moment you opened the camera’s shutter appear beneath the rippling chemicals is magical. It can be a little nerve-wracking also, hoping the exposure time was right and watching for the perfect moment to remove the paper from the developer, but perhaps I’m a bit too Type A.
I was working today with some interesting techniques that I hadn’t tried before – a radiogram, a negative print, and a “sandwich negative”. For the radiogram I played with a sheer fabric that had a floral print, ribbon and translucent beads. The woven texture and the floral pattern of the fabric came through quite nicely and the beads made an interesting pattern of light and dark. I was relatively pleased with how it turned out, although if I were to do it again, I would probably double over the fabric to make the overall piece a bit brighter, hopefully so that more detail could be seen.
The negative print was a shot of roses that I printed several weeks ago, placed emulsion side down on fresh paper. I think that the contrast in the original print is probably not ideal for this technique, but I really like the softness I was able to achieve in the negative, especially from such a sharply focused original. These two, connected by their soft visual quality – one via contrast, the other via focus – will make a nice pairing.
The sandwich negative… was interesting. Putting two negatives in a carrier together is something I can’t quite wrap my head around just yet – This one was okay as a first attempt, but it was not quite what I was expecting. One of these negatives was a shot of the library at Oglethorpe University from a random roll I had taken a month or so ago and the other was from my Hands Study… but the hands did not come through as clearly as I had hoped.
I also ended up printing the Library photograph mentioned above by itself – I hadn’t gotten around to printing any of that film yet, so having the negative already in the carrier was as good an excuse as any to make another picture.
All of this work is drying at the moment, but (promises, promises) I will put them into this post as soon as possible. Even my crappy sandwich negative. And keep a lookout for the follow up to the post about Yousuf Karsh post from earlier this week – I mentioned another interesting portrait photographer and I am definitely going to make sure that everyone is introduced!