Darkroom, prints, wet prints. What it is?

Today I will be printing my first prints, and by those, I dont really mean I haven’t printed my photos before, I have. I have had mural sized prints (24 x 36″) from both my film and digital based images. I have also printed contact prints before from my large format negatives.

However, what has since changed is that my analogue workflow has gone full wet. What’s that? Well, that means, that I have reverted to what has been the conventional workflow since say nearly a 100 years – the silver gelatin print, as printed from a negative – and, via enlarging. The enlarging process is probably around since 80 years or so.

So what is the process, what will I be doing? I will be taking a negative, projecting it onto a light-sensitive paper for a specific period of time and then developing that paper in paper-developing chemicals to obtain a photographic print! Sounds easy enough, you say? Any schmuck could do it, you say? Well, yes and no. Yes, every one can ride a bike, or a car, but it takes a Schumacher to drive an F1 car or a Rossi to ride a superbike as he does. The challenge is to be the Rossi/Schumacher of printing.

Printing, from my reading of books, of articles, websites, and even learning from videos looks quite a bit like a mix of art and science. There is the science bit in the process, and there is the art bit in choosing and developing the process. Like with cooking – one discovers what taste one has and adds sugar, spice and salt to suit it. Similarly with printing, you discover what is your taste of the visual – do you like it stark, contrasty? Maybe pastel black and white, with smoothest tonality? Do you perhaps prefer only the middle of the image in focus?
Each of that is a choice, a choice you consciously make, and something that you determine with experience – not that gleaned from surfing the web with articles like these, but that gleaned from your own methods and processes in the printing of the image.

So far, my own printing has involved contact prints, while I looked around for an enlarger. Now, it has grown to include the enlarger and an enlarged print. This Deepavali, the challenge is being undertaken to print enlarged negatives – whether 35mm, 120 format or even the 4×5 format. I shall keep you abreast of the challenges I face.

My next post on these will include information, tips and how tos. This post was merely an introduction.


ಹ್ಯಾಪೀ ದೀಪಾವಳಿ! ದೀಪಾವಳಿಯ ಸುಭಾಶಯಗಳು

ಇವತ್ತು ನರಕ ಚತುರ್ದಶಿ. ಅಂದರೆ ನರಕಾಸುರನ ವಧ ನಡಿದಾ ದಿನ. ಇದನ್ನು ಆಚಿರಿಸಿ, ನರಕಾಸುರ ಅಂಥವರ ವಿನಾಶಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಹರಿಸಿ.

ನಾಳೆ ಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಿ ಪೂಜ, ಅಮಾವಾಸ್ಯದ ದಿನ, ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಕಡೆ ದೀಪವಿಟ್ತು ಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಿಯು ನಿಮ್ಮ ಮನೆಗೆ ಒಲಿಸಲು ಹಾರಯ್ಕೆ ಮಾಡಿ, ನೇಮಂತ್ರಿಸಿ.

ನಾಡಿದ್ದು ಬಲಿ-ಪಾಡ್ಯಮಿ. ಬಲಿ ಮಹಾರಾಜನನಿಗೆ ವರ ಕೊಟ್ಟಿರುವನು ವಾಮನ ಅಂದರೆ ವಿಷ್ಣು ದೇವರು. ಏನು ಈ ವರ ಅಂದರೆ, ತನ್ನ ಜನಗಳಾದವರನ್ನು ಪ್ರತಿ ವರುಷ ಬಂದು ನೋಡುವ ವರ. ಇದೇ ಬಲಿ ಮಹಾರಾಜನಿಗೆ ಕೊಟ್ಟ ವರ.

ಇವುಗಳು ಹಿಂದೆ ಏನಿದೆ ಕಥೆ? ಮುಂದಿನ ಬ್ಲೋಗ್ಪೋಸ್ಟ್ ಅಲ್ಲಿ, ನಾಳೆ.

ಹ್ಯಾಪೀ ದೀಪಾವಳಿ! ದೀಪಾವಳಿಯ ಸುಭಾಶಯಗಳು!

What is this analoguey? ಅನಾಲೋಗೀ ಅಂದರೆ ಏನು


ನಾನು ಇತ್ತಿಗ ಮೊಟ್ಟಮೊದಲನೇ ಬಾರಿ ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಬ್ಲೋಗ್ ಮಾಡ್ತಾಇದ್ದೀನಿ. ತುಂಬಾ ಖುಷಿಯೂ ಆಗ್ತಿದೆ ಹಾಗೂ ಈ ಟೆಕ್ನಾಲಜೀ ಮೇಲೆ ಹೆಮ್ಮೇನು ಬರುತ್ತಿದೆ.

ಇವತ್ತು ಈ ಬ್ಲೋಗಿನ ಏನು ಪುಟ್ಟ ಇತಿಹಾಸ ಮತ್ತೆ ಏನು ಇದರ ವಿಶೇಷ ಅಂತಹ ವಿವರ ಕೊಡುತ್ತೀನಿ. ಈ ಬ್ಲೋಗ್ ಯಾಕೆ “ಅನಾಲೋಗೀ” ಅಂತಹ ಕರ್ಕೊಳ್ಳದು? ಏನು ಈ ಅನಾಲೋಗೀ? ಯಾರಿದು?

ಈ ಬ್ಲೋಗಿನ ಮುಖ್ಯ ಉದ್ದೇಶ ಏನಪ್ಪಾ ಅಂದರೇ ಇದು ಒಂದು ಫೋಟೋಗ್ರಫೀ ಬ್ಲೋಗ್. ಫೋಟೋಗ್ರಫೀ ಬ್ಲೋಗ್ ಮೂರು ಮತ್ತೊಂದು ಇದೆ, ಇದೇನು ಸ್ಪೆಶಲ್, ಇದ್ದಕ್ಕೆ ಯಾರು ಬಂದು ತಿರುಗ ನೋಡವರು? ಇದರ ಸ್ಪೆಶ್ಯಾಲಿಟೀ : ಇದು ಫಿಲ್ಮ್ ಫೋಟೋಗ್ರಫೀ ಮೇಲೆ ಇರೋ ಬ್ಲೋಗ್.

ಆ? ಫಿಲ್ಮ್ ಫೋಟೋಗ್ರಫೀ ನಾ? ರೂಲ್ ಫಿಲ್ಮ್? ಹಳೇದು, ಅದು? ಅಂತ ನಿಮ್ಮ ರಿಯಾಕ್ಶನ್ ಇರಬಹುದು ಅಲ್ವಾ? ಅದೇ ಇರೋದು ಚಮಕ್ಕು. ಅದೇ ವಿಶೇಷ. ಫಿಲ್ಮ್ ಹಳೇದು ಆಗಿಲ್ಲ, ಇನ್ನ್ ಇದೆ, ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿ ಓಡುತ್ತಾ ಇದೆ, ನಾವು ನೀವು ಡಿಜಿಟಲ್ ಬಂದಮೇಲೆ ಮಾರ್ಟಿದ್ದೇವೆ ಅಷ್ಟೇ! ಇವತ್ತಿಗೆ ಇಷ್ಟೇ ಎಂಟ್ರೀ ಕೊಡ್ತೀನಿ, ಮತ್ತೆ ಭೇಟಿ ಆದಾಗ, ಪೂರ್ತಿ ವಿವರ ಕೊಡ್ತೀನಿ. ಫಿಲ್ಮ್ ಏನು, ಹೇಗೆ, ಎಲ್ಲಿ, ಯಾರು – ಎಲ್ಲ.


ಬರ್ತೀನಿ ಹಾಗಾದ್ರೆ!

Magnum and the Dying Art of Darkroom Printing

Some reading on Printing, while I sum up my own thoughts on the darkroom…

the literate lens

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of spending some time with Pablo Inirio, master darkroom printer at  Magnum Photos in New York. I was thinking about that interview recently as I heard the news of Kodak’s bankruptcy and pondered the precarious status of “old media” like books, film and silver gelatin prints.

As Magnum’s printer, Inirio gets to work with some of photography’s most iconic images. In his small darkroom, the prints lying casually around include Dennis Stock’s famous portrait of James Dean in Times Square (right) and a cigar-chewing Che Guevara shot by Rene Burri. Intricate squiggles and numbers are scrawled all over the prints, showing Inirio’s complex formulas for printing them. A few seconds of dodging here, some burning-in there. Will six seconds be enough to bring out some definition in the building behind Dean? Perhaps, depending on the temperature of the chemicals.

Of course, this…

View original post 806 more words

Hello back!

It has been a while since I have last published. It has been an interesting and wonderful journey so far – something I have been, unfortunately quite lazy about publishing out here. I hope to soon outline some parts of the journey, the exhilaration and challenges.

Right now, things get interesting in the search for grants and sponsors. If you know one who supports work here, please let me know!

Inspiration, design and homogeneity.

Among the many sources that I actively court, to inspire my photography, are museums and art related books (and sometimes magazines). Not always does it directly relate to photography, but it usually has a photo (or a few) related to the arts. It might be use of colours in a painting, sketch -the design of a page, or something like a magazine describing the playthings of the rich.

All usually feed off some part of the brain that gets simulated by images, and hopefully inspire my own (original) burst of creativity.

Among these habits is habit of visiting Book Fairs (especially if steep discounts are around! ;)) and on visiting one such fair recently, I was quite stumped by a few books – on art and photography. The three books that caught my attention, and still stay in the mind were:

  1.  A study on Renoir’s images/paintings.
  2.  National Geographic Magazine’s best portraits over a 100 years or so.
  3.  Opulence and ornaments of Indian Maharajahs and Rajas.

Each inspired me for varying reasons but a common thread was homogeneity – the lack of it, especially. What I got to see was that a over most of the 20th century pretty much every locale, region or country had a different costume or dress – and they were colourful and distinct. In contrast with our modern times where one would probably hop from many different continents but almost invariably encounter the same type of clothing if not necessarily the style.
Another important thing that I got to see was that even when the photography was indeed Black and White, the clothing, costumes and jewelry of the peoples  were not monochrome – they were multi-hued.

This individuality wasn’t only joyful to be seen, but it was breathtaking to be experiencing it, captured by photographers working with a very new medium. In an era of mass-manufactured “homogeneity” and conformity, it was refreshing to see it wasn’t  always the case – that it was hardly the case for most of the last century – let alone the many ones gone by.

I think that is one of our duties primarily as photographers. To document – sometimes immediacy of the medium now with digital photography and social media blurs us to the fact that we are actually documenting our race, our species. A 100 years ago when Graham Bell encouraged his son-in-law (to-be) to explore further areas and cultures with the National Geographic he might not have envisioned it living on as a magazine that served to document the exploration(re-exploration) of old and new cultures and their existence. While much of the world is explored, there are still 7 billion people around and much of what we do needs documentation.

A quick snap and update to facebook sometimes is the wrong way to go about it. A little thought about how the image might play a year down the line, or even ten years might give us just that pause and help us assess that image a little better.

First attempts at development.

My first attempt at development needed easily available chemicals locally, or at least, in the country so that, I would not have to run around too much for them. I also needed them to be fairly standard or at least a little decent and not too much pain to mix or make. I was advised to try the Foma chemicals.

With Foma chemicals, I first tried developing with FomaExcel P. This is supposedly a fine-grain developer and suited for better film. First I had to prepare my developer and fixer – mix the chemicals. My first attempt at mixing the chemicals ended up in a bit of a disaster with me dumping in the chemical B which was supposed to be dissolved in water *after* chemical A was, being dissolved first and resulting solution probably not being upto scratch.
Not wanting to experiment – especially with some crystallisation – which on further reading, *might* have been okay, I started off with a pack of Fomadon that I had. Now Fomadon, I mixed right, wiser by experience.

The fixer was easier by comparison, and I just had to stir with an old toothbrush, to dissolve it in water, and it was done. It was Foma fixer, again. All chemicals obtained via the helpful chaps at Eastern Photographic, Delhi.

And then I went onto load film and develop.  I figured loading the film could be done in semi-dark circumstances and that it would suffice.  Closed windows, doors, put on the drapes(not really  ones that cut out much light), and proceeded to load film under darkness… under the bed, it should be dark enough right? WRONG!
It turned out that I had exposed film to light. And the whole couple of rolls( I seem to have habit  inclination of developing two rolls together, not sure why) went to dogs. Light exposed meant one didn’t even get to see markings on film.

Note: Even when exposed to light, with correct developer + fixer action, the film comes out as tan/dark tan roll.

This led me to learn and develop at night. Well, load at night (and changing bag wasn’t yet in the mind). Being a night owl helped. Anyhow, the next roll developed came out alright if a little feeble looking .

Given that the inverted development wasn’t really a fun-thing, I instead opted for standing development – about 35mins each, and fixing for a similar time. The wash was via regular tap. I developed a couple of rolls that way – a shanghai 120 (shot on RB67), a kodak c-41 negative (processed in B&W) and Delta 100.  All came out fairly okay, without much issues – there were some issues of development time and temperature I had to take into consideration, but I wasn’t fully ready to take that plunge yet.