When I got into my darkroom this afternoon I had to sweep away cobwebs. This is too sad a metaphor to contemplate very deeply without sparking grief and loss. It speaks to the possible end of my life as a darkroom worker. Robin is not being exactly supportive to me when she says, "Does this mean we’ll have more storage? And maybe move the washing machine back?""
My usual process with black and white is to quickly print a bunch of proof prints that I can post on my kitchen wall. I want to have the work in my peripheral vision for several days. Work that is appealling at first glance may not survive the scrutiny of being lived with this way, and this is my process for sussing out those surface seductions. Other pieces that seem overly dense and layered start to reveal their charms when I see them both pre-caffeinated and after a glass of wine over the course of several days.
This time I used the Panda Lab scans to print out my review prints. Two things I observed from this process. It was a lot slower than if I had fired up the wet lab to do the same task. And mucking with the files showed possibilities I could not have considered in an analog workflow. I could add a "Soft Light Overlay" layer and dodge and burn with a precision unobtainable any other way.
When I got into the darkroom today (it was a hot and sunny day in Seattle, exactly the kind of weather that sends me fleeing into a cool and dark room), it did not initially go well. On my desert trip two weeks ago, I used some new film, Ilford swag from the Silver Conference in LA last April. The HP5 printed horribly—it doesn’t seem to like being overexposed, the highlights were all blocked up, and I couldn’t achieve the range I was able to get on my modestly tweaked inkjet outputs. The Delta 100, though, printed gorgeously. Luscious blacks, creamy highlights, I wanted to swim in these prints. I want to do some serious testing with this film now.
I just got a roll of the Crane Museo Silver Rag this week, an inkjet paper meant to imitate the look of a conventional fiber paper. This will be the real test now—can it hold its own agains silver? Will Robin get her laundry room back?