Printing Silver Gelatin making prints for two exhibitions in 2016

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.

My enlarger, an Onega with a Cold head light source
Chemicals, Zone VI timer/metronome, and recipes
Some work prints and test strips sitting in a water bath ready to dry and examine befor final archival processing
Putting my film not the neg carrier for my Omega enlarger, ready to enlarge. In the background, my note book, other negatives and contact sheets

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..

The first stage of printing hasn't changed since photography was invented

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.

Untitled 2016 for the Abstractions x 5 show in Adelaide in 2016

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.

Untitled 2016 for the Abstractions x 5 show in Adelaide in 2016

The work will form part of a 3 x 3 grid pinned directly to the wall.

Untitled 2016 for the Abstractions x 5 show in Adelaide in 2016
My prints hanging to dry and the sink packed up after a successful printing session.

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.

Left the paper I use the most, right the scales I use to create aper and film developers.
My storage systems means I can quickly locate negatives from any point in time from 1987 to the present and start printing within minutes of setting up my darkroom
From the bridge series, ongoing body work since the early 1990s

This print was for the exhibition Weltraum, at Magpie Springs Winery in Adelaide, the exhibition title Weltraum was meant to reflect the idea of working on long term slow projects. My Bridges project has been simmering away since 1993 or so. I made 3 prints from this series, all were printed on 16 x 20 paper and toned in selenium, the framing was done by Neo Frames.

Created By
stuart murdoch
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