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Home FEATURES How Tos How to Print B&W Photos

How to Print B&W Photos
Wednesday, 05 December 2007 07:44
Our friend from the epic photo magazine Hamburger Eyes, Ray Potes, gives you a detailed step by step.

By Ray Potes. Photos by Jesse Pollock.

This is a real basic starting point for printing black and white photographs. You can see how to get your film to this point by checking out the last photo 'how-to' regarding processing your film. For some of you this may be a refresher, for others this might be a totally killer new way of life. For some of you this may be boring or diabolical, for others it might be repulsive. Either way, the darkroom has been in a digi headlock for a while now, but its a tag team match and you got speedos on. Les doo dis?

You might have just processed some film and are ready to get in the darkroom. We are assuming you have access to an already existing darkroom which contains all the basic materials and equipment. If you don’t have a darkroom, but want to build one in your house then I might have to write another guide for that. For now, we will just pretend that you have one or that you can find a cheap one to rent pretty easy. (hint)

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First we are going to make contact sheets, also known as proof sheets, or “proofs” if you are “in the biz”. Have your negs sleeved and ready to go.

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Make sure your darkroom is equipped with a boombox, preferred is one with auxiliary input for a cd player or ipod.

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Try to KMEL the whole way if you can.

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You will need a piece of glass. I guess lets back up a little for those who have never entered a darkroom. The idea is that the enlarger, with many different adjustments and controls and TLC, will blast light through your negative and onto your light sensitive paper. And once this piece of paper is processed through the right chemistry and mixed with some more TLC you will have a photographic print.

So we have a piece of glass. My piece of glass happens to be hinged onto a plastic base topped with padding, but any piece of glass large enough to cover an 8x10 piece of paper will do. The idea is that this glass will keep the negatives flat as possible while your print is exposed.

Lets get our paper ready…

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It’s much easier to work with a “paper safe” than working straight out of the box. This way you don’t have to mess with that plastic bag, opening the whole box every time, etc etc. Put some of your paper in there, but not all of it, just in case you hit the lights or something retarded.

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Lets take our negative carrier and stick it in the enlarger. Also raise the enlarger head so the light source covers our piece of glass.

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Let’s open the aperature all the way open. F/2.8 This is just like the lense on your camera and works the exact same. Wide open aperature, maximum amount of light coming through.

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This is the timer and is the main control for the light source on your enlarger. Once turned on you basically have 2 main modes, “focus” and “time”. With “focus” mode, you are turning on the enlarger in order to focus your neg, preparing your paper position, the pre-game if you will. With “time” mode, you set your time up and once triggered the enlarger will turn on and then off at whatever you set it at, could be 5 minutes or .5 seconds.

This particular enlarger setup has a multi-diffusion head. Not even really sure what that means, but I do know that the contrast filters are built in. Therefore, our timer has the controls to.. uh, control them.(the numbers on the right.) (Filters run from 0-5. That includes half increments. 0 being very low contrast and 5 being the high contrast.)

Also, since I have made contact sheets on this setup before and my negatives are basically the same density, same brand, same camera etc. I have a pretty good idea of what my settings should be. I have my time at 9 secs, with a 2 filter.

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Its time to make an exposure. Put your negs centered on a piece of paper, and then place that under the glass. Then hit the timer and I get 9 secs of light on there.

*It should be noted that anytime we talk about taking un-exposed paper out, you should be under safe lights only. For the purpose of this write up we shot with the lights on in some parts, with flash in some parts, safe light in some parts. Sorry if the inconsistency is confusing and not illustrative to the true darkroom experience. Just be smart and don’t ruin your paper.

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Now it's time for the wet side of the darkroom. We have our trays setup in this order from left to right: developer, stop bath, and fixer. There is a 4th tray on a table not pictured here. That one is filled with water, lets call it a holding bath.

If you are mixing your own chemicals, all the directions are written on the side of the package or bottle. Just like mixing Kool-aid, pretty easy. You'll notice that the stop batch smells like rotten eggs died inside a dead baby covered in garbage then stuffed up someone's butt. If you arent using a super strong developer, you can just use water for stop bath, which is what we do. Also, you can save the fixer and re-use it a few times. Do that.

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Have your tongs ready. Each tray should have its own tongs, and they should never get mixed up. You will contaminate the other trays. If you ever print in a group darkroom style setup, the biggest complaint is always, "..man fucking so and so fucking mixed up the fucking tongs and now my whole fucking life is ruined, thanks bro.."

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Our wall clock recently died. But any watch will do. Each tray has its own amount of time the print should sit in there. Today, we will spend 1.5 minutes in the dev, 30 secs in the stop, and 1 min in the fix.

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Throw your exposed paper in the developer. Make sure its deep in there. Stir up that sauce with the tongs. "Agitate" the tray by grabbing and edge and tilting it and lifting it a little to make some waves. Do that for about 1.5 minutes.

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Oh crucial step. Dont forget to wear your gloves. Some people have reactions to these chemicals. Ive seen dry skin, rashes, hives, burns, and warts..

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Exhibit A.

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Exhibit B.

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Okay, back to work. After the dev, lift the print out of the tray, let it drain a bunch. And then stick it in the next tray, which is the stop bath. This is stopping the developer from developing, hence the name. Agitate it for 30 secs straight.

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Next is the fixer. Stick it in there and do the same.

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Once its in here for like a minute you can turn the light on.

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Then we'll put it in the holding bath which is just water. If you are doing a lot of prints, then you should have this tray attached to running water. But today we're only doing a few things, when we're done we'll wash them all together. Keep them face down, that way if they float to the surface, there wont be any circley dry marks on the front of the print.

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Now we are going to make an enlargement from a negative. Switch out that glass you just used for contact prints with an "easel". Theres all kinds of makes and models of these. You will find one you like. Basically this thing will hold and position your paper while you make and exposure.

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Put your neg in the neg carrier.

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Open the enlarger head and stick your neg carrier with neg in there.

printing-137.jpg

I like to have a blank piece of paper around to get a feel of where my photo is going to land and also to focus on.

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Turn that timer onto the "focus" position. Your negative image is now visible on your scrap piece of paper. You can position the easel, lift or lower the enlarger head for a bigger or smaller crop. Some people like to see the white of the paper. Today, we are going over the edges. This is called "full bleed".

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This thingy is called a grain focuser or grain finder or grain magnifyer.

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You put it under the light of the enlarger and with it you can see how soft or how sharp the grain of your film is going to look on your print. Play with the focusing knob on the enlarger and make sure that grain is tight as fuck..

printing-148.jpg

Stop down your lense to f/8. This is a good starting point. Depending on your exposure time you can make some adjustments here later. Remember this works just like your camera where the combo of time and aperature setting is the shazam factor, money, butter, sweet emotion, whatever you want to call it.

printing-149.jpg

In order to find our proper exposure time, we need to make a test print. We'll do it in 10 second increments. Cut out a small piece of unexposed paper. Set the timer to 10 secs and use a piece of cardboard to block part of the print.

printing-152.jpg

Make another 10 second exposure right over that last one, but move the cardboard down a little revealing another piece of the unexposed paper. Repeat this at least 4 or 5 times. We want to see at what point our print is going to be too dark and at what point it will be too light.

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Run that sucker through the doo.

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Okay now we can see whats happening. The lightest part of this print is 10 seconds. The darkest is 40 secs. Im liking the 20-30 sec area..

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..so I'm going to go with a 25 sec exposure.

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Push it through dem chems.

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It's a dead ratatouille! and maggots have eaten away most of his cute lil face?!

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Looks pretty good, but I think i can dodge him a little which will make him lighter and make him pop a little more.

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This is a dodging tool. Basically just a round piece of cardboard on the end of a wire hanger straighted out.

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Use it to block the exposure. The closer to the lense the bigger the dodging..

printing-195.jpg

The closer you are to the print, the tighter the dodging. While doing this you want to wave it around and not keep it stationary. If you did keep it in one place, you would see the wire and the shape of the dodging tool in the print, like tan lines. So keep it moving and only for a few seconds at a time. Thats dodging, burning is the exact opposite where we want to add exposure to certain areas of the print. Keep mental notes of how long you dodge or burn for future reference.

printing-207.jpg

So I dodged ratatouille only for a few seconds ( the bottom print), but you can see the difference.

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Im done for the day. Time to wash these print. We dont have a print washer today, so we are going to use this tray attachement. This thing connects to the faucet and will replace tray water with fresh water at a certain rate or whatever. Ill connect it to the tray that was holding all my prints.

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I'll wash for 5-10 mins. I'll even help it by swishing my prints around and flipping them over and whatnot..

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..and sniffing them.

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Use the squeegee and a hard flat surface to squeege some of that water off.

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Do both sides, but be careful you dont over do it and wrinkle your print, fold it, or run marks on it.

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Place your prints on the drying rack and go do something while they dry.

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Our drying rack also doubles as a film dryer, so we have a heater mounted to it. Dont full blast it though or the prints will curl crazy. Also, if you are printing fiber based papers, know that the wash sequence is a little different and there is also extra chemistry and more pre-cautions when drying.

I think that's it. You now know your basic way around a darkroom and sooner or later you'll be concocting your own recipes. {moscomment}

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contact FF

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//////////
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Arrangement measures 24"x30", acrylic and aerosol on panel - inquires: info(at)ffdg.net

Michelle Fleck is a painter living in San Francisco. Her work focuses on the relationship between man and the landscape, and the marks we leave on it. Influenced by everyday life in the city, her paintings serve as snapshots of an ongoing intersection of the natural and man-made world. She strives to make work that has a sense of relevancy in a culture driven by a need for change and newness.

 

///
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+SF

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FULL CALENDARS: BAY AREA | NYC | LA

 


 

 

 

AJ Fosik in Tokyo at The Hellion Gallery

Matt Wagner recently emailed over some photos from The Hellion Gallery in Tokyo, who recently put together a show with AJ Fosik (Portland) called Beast From a Foreign Land. The gallery gave twelve of Fosik's sculptures to twelve Japanese artists (including Hiro Kurata who is currently showing in our group show Salt the Skies) to paint, burn, or build upon.


Ferris Plock - Online Show, April 25th

FFDG is pleased to announce an exclusive online show with San Francisco based Ferris Plock opening on Friday, April 25th (12pm Pacific Time) featuring 5 new medium sized acrylic paintings on wood.


GOLD BLOOD, MAGIC WEIRDOS

Backwoods Gallery in Melbourne played host to a huge group exhibition a couple of weeks back, with "Gold Blood, Magic Weirdos" Curated by Melbourne artist Sean Morris. Gold Blood brought together 25 talented painters, illustrators and comic artists from Australia, the US, Singapore, England, France and Spain - and marked the end of the Magic Weirdos trilogy, following shows in Perth in 2012 and London in 2013.


Jeremy Fish at LA's Mark Moore Gallery

San Francisco based Fecal Pal Jeremy Fish opened his latest solo show Hunting Trophies at LA's Mark Moore Gallery last week to massive crowds and cabin walls lined with imagery pertaining to modern conquest and obsession.


John Felix Arnold III on the Road to NYC

Well, John Felix Arnold III is at it again. This time, he and Carolyn LeBourgios packed an entire show into the back of a Prius and drove across the country to install it at Superchief Gallery in NYC. I met with him last week as he told me about the trip over delicious burritos at Taqueria Cancun (which is right across the street from FFDG and serves what I think is the best burrito in the city) as the self proclaimed "Only overweight artist in the game" spilled all the details.


FRENCH in Melbourne

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Henry Gunderson at Ever Gold, SF

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Mario Wagner @Hashimoto

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Serge Gay Jr. @Spoke Art

The paintings in the show are each influenced by a musician, ranging from Freddy Mercury, to Madonna, to A Tribe Called Quest and they are so stylistically consistent with each musician's persona that they read as a cohesive body of work with incredible variation. If you told me they were each painted by a different person, I would not hesitate to believe you and it's really great to see a solo show with so much variety. The show is fun, poppy, very well done, and absolutely worth a look and maybe even a listen.


NYCHOS Mural on Ashbury and Haight

NYCHOS completed this great new mural on the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco on Tuesday. Looks Amazing.


Sun Milk in Vienna

With rising rent in SF and knowing mostly other young artists without capitol, I desired a way to live rent free, have a space to do my craft, and get to see more of the world. Inspired by the many historical artists who have longed similar longings I discovered the beauty of artist residencies. Lilo runs Adhoc Collective in Vienna which not only has a fully equipped artists creative studio, but an indoor halfpipe, and private artist quarters. It was like a modern day castle or skate cathedral. It exists in almost a utopic state, totally free to those that apply and come with a real passion for both art and skateboarding


"How To Lose Yourself Completely" by Bryan Schnelle

I just wanted to share with you a piece I recently finished which took me 4 years to complete. Titled "How To Lose Yourself Completely (The September Issue)", it consists of a copy of the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine (the issue they made the documentary about) with all faces masked with a sharpie, and everything else entirely whited out. 840 pages of fun. -Bryan Schnelle


Tyler Bewley ~ Recent Works

Some great work from San Francisco based Tyler Bewley.


Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery

While walking our way across San Francisco on Saturday we swung through the opening receptions for Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery in the Mission.


Jeremy Fish Solo Show in Los Angeles

Jeremy Fish opens Hunting Trophies tonight, Saturday April 5th, at the Los Angeles based Mark Moore Gallery. The show features new work from Fish inside the "hunting lodge" where viewers climb inside the head of the hunter and explore the history of all the animals he's killed.


The Albatross and the Shipping Container

Beautiful piece entitled "The Albatross and the Shipping Container", Ink on Paper, Mounted to Panel, 47" Diameter, by San Francisco based Martin Machado now on display at FFDG. Stop in Saturday (1-6pm) to view the group show "Salt the Skies" now running through April 19th. 2277 Mission St. at 19th.


The Marsh Barge - Traveling the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to quit my job, move out of my house, leave everything and travel again. So on August 21, 2013 I pushed a canoe packed full of gear into the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, along with four of my best friends. Exactly 100 days later, I arrived at a marina near the Gulf of Mexico in a sailboat.


Flavio Samelo's Downtown Sao Paulo Murals

Our buddy Flavio Samelo down there in Brazil does all kinds of great work including this recent mural project in downtown Sao Paulo in front of one of the most important modern buildings of Oscar Niemeyer from the 60's, THE COPAN.


John Trippe, FFDG and Fecalface.com Founder, Stepping Down From Daily Operations

John Trippe, founder, owner and curator of FecalFace.com and the Mission District art gallery FFDG, announced today that he will stepping down from daily operations of the two ventures to seek new career opportunities.


High 5s - Get Your Feet Wet

I purchased one of the first digital cameras when Fecal Face went online in 2000. It was a massive Kodak with 2 mega pixels


"Touching Base" by Schuyler Beecroft

San Francisco based Schuyler Beecroft emailed over the great new series of paintings he's completed entitled "Touching Base", 16x20in on mounted wood panel. Like them.


Flume - Space Cadet (ft. Ghostface Killah & Autre Ne Veut)

Buddies Jay Howell & Jim Dirschberger did this great video produced by Forest City Rockers.


Fire Shelter for Papay Gyro Nights 2014

Last year we posted photos from another one of Simon Hjermind Jensen's Fire Shelters he's made in Copenhagen. This time around the Copenhagen based artist/ designer created one for the Papay Gyro Nights 2014 way up in on the Orkney Islands in Northern Scotland.


"Portrait of a Slugger 19" by Hiro Kurata

Beautiful painting by NYC based Hiro Kurata now on display at SF's FFDG through April 19th as part of the group show "Salt the Skies".


"Veins of Octulen" by Curiot at FFDG

"Salt the Skies" opened on the 21st at FFDG and features this great piece by Mexico City based Curiot (Favio Martinez) whose sold out 2013 show Age of Omuktlans ran at FFDG. His forthcoming solo show is slated for March 2015.


Rome's Alice Pasquini ~Mural+

Rome based multimedia artist Alice Pasquini emailed over a recent mural completed in the historic working class neighborhood of Rome called Tufello.


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