Striving for the “fine print” meant many hours in the chemical darkroom. Ansel Adams and Minor White, were the gurus of the time; the Zone System and careful exposure was the method for achieving print and negative quality enabling all the subtle tones from black and near black to white and near white and all the tones in between. The fog base density of the negative and the overall tonality of the final print – from cool to warm were of vital importance to be debated with friends students and colleagues. The choice of paper and film developers, and indeed what film was in the camera or the double dark slide, and how best to achieve lasting, archival prints in acid free storage and whether to dry mount or not, were carefully thought over and the techniques shared over a pint of real ale or a mug of tea.
How I loved the darkroom hours, using my DeVere 504 enlarger, enamel trays of chemicals, develop , rinse, fix, wash, hypo-clear and wash in my archival print washer, the resulting prints hung back to back, pegged out to dry overnight so they didn’t curl. Split-toning with selenium toner, careful spotting with a tiny brush and the pride of achieving the “fine print”.
And the frustration bordering on despair when Kodak, Ilford or Agfa discontinued a much loved film or paper or when a favourite developer became hard to get; and the long list of names – once so important – Tri X, HP5, FP4, Panatomic X, Pan F, Record Rapid, Neutol WA, D76, DiXactol, Kodalith LP paper, Gallery, Acufine, Rodinal, Acuspeed, 2475 Recording Film. Now only remembered by a few.
And the hardware – Linhof Technicardan and Super Technica, MPP, Bronica SQAi, Mamiya 66, 67 and 645, Hasselblad 500cm and XPAN, Nikon F2As and F3, Leica M2 to M6. Leica R6 and R7.
The mantra for four decades of my life.
Now a brand new mantra – Lightroom 6.4, Photoshop CS4, Adobe Raw, CR2, RAF, RND, TIFF & DNG, monitor calibration and print profiling, giclee and a whole range of new papers for desktop Epson, HP and Canon inkjet printers.
New frustrations and new triumphs – out of the darkroom and into the light. Accepting change and NEVER GIVING UP.
I bought a program called VueScan. This enables me to use my old Minolta Dimage Scan Elite 5400 with my Windows 10 laptop to scan 35mm negatives. Previously it only worked with XP. machines. My last XP. machine died quite a while ago!
My commitment to monochrome photography continues digitally, I will not forsake my medium.
I still love traditional music!