I’ve been doing a lot of printing in my darkroom recently, preparing for an exhibition and catching up on printing family images. I’ve been working in that darkroom since 1973, learning, processing negatives, producing images, learning, planning new exhibitions and books, learning.
Film photographers choose films and formats for the types of work they do. We may choose 35 mm, medium format (120 or 220 film), or large format (4x5, 8x10) cameras. Some of us use all of these formats, although most of us have a favourite. We also choose particular chemicals – developers, for example – and processing techniques to process our films and create prints.
Darkroom printing is an art in itself, as is printing based on Photoshop. One can choose from various papers, and then make decisions about enlarger exposure time and paper grade.
These are test strips from one of my photographs, showing seven different exposures (5 - 35 seconds) with two grades of paper, Grade Two (normal contrast) and Grade Three (higher contrast). These strips were made many years ago using my favourite paper, Ilford Galerie, a warm tone fibre-based paper which is no longer available. Many photographers now use multigrade paper and filters in their enlargers to change the contrast of prints, although graded paper is still available.
Which paper and which exposure would you choose for this image? That may seem like a simple question, but it is not. There is no right answer, only choices that relate to how one interprets the image. Our interpretation of our images may be different when we view them years after we first printed them.
I would be delighted to receive your comments and choices with respect to this image.