Despite the popularity of digital and colour photography, I still enjoy working in my analogue black and white darkroom. It allows me complete control of the picture making process from, exposure in camera, to finished prints. Printing itself is a meditative process and I keep a paper and pencil handy to jot ideas and thoughts down while I work. The extent of my control over my work in this space goes so far as me making my developers from scratch based on a recipes given to me by my Lecturer at University from 1988 to 1992, D25 for film. The paper developers I make allow for more scope for subtle manipulation of print tones and I use mostly Ansco 120, but also Ansco 130, and sometimes a version of Dektol.
I am printing 9 small prints for an exhibition in late September 2016 at SACP They are all from 6 x 6 cm negatives made with my Hasselblad, from 2004 to 2012.
The printing process has remained largely unchanged since Talbot invented the positive negative system, in roughly 1839. That process is developer, stop bath followed by a fixing bath, and lastly a wash in water..
However modern advances in understanding the nature of exposed silver halides over time in a variety of environments means that a second fixer bath follows the first, along with a neutralising chemical called Hypo Clearing Agent, and a 30 minute wash in 20ºC water.
The prints will be roughly 7 1/2 inches square. I am printing them on 8 x 10 paper warm tone paper made by Ilford. I will tone them in selenium toner afterwards. Toning improves archival permanence and can subtly change the tones of the prints in pleasing aesthetic ways.
The work will form part of a 3 x 3 grid pinned directly to the wall.
My workflow goes like this.1. Set up the Darkroom with Developer, Stop Bath, Fixer and a rinse tray. 2. Make the print or prints, dry them and reexamine them when dry to consider re-printing. If reprinting is not needed then I move to the next step. 3. Set up a second tray of fresh fixer, a tray of Selenium, and one of HCA along with a rinse tub. once all the prints had been through this cycle I move on to the last step 4. I set up an archival wash system and wash the prints for 30 to 60 minutes, then. 5. Hang up the prints to dry.