Success in the darkroom

Making your print in the darkroom
John Power
Posts: 94
Joined: 26 May 2021, 10:18

Success in the darkroom

Postby John Power » 17 Sep 2021, 12:30

Apologies for the non-LF content here, but thought I'd check in on progress with printing.

In the past month I've picked up a grain focuser (massive game changer) and yesterday took delivery of some 11x14 trays and paper. I did some enlargements last night (only a 6x6 negative tray) and it was the first time I pushed beyond just "getting an image on paper" and tried to refine the outcomes as i went. Its an expensive process, and there is no real prospect/expectation of recouping those costs, but I am really enjoying being out there. I'll attach a photo below of my best print, which was arrived at after a test strip then a couple of iterations with different filters and exposure times. I'd definitely hang this one!

I don't have an 11x14 easel, so was freestyling it, pinning the edges with some allen keys (great for corner tension!). Thinking about how to make a good easel for a fixed size... does anyone have a plan/style that they swear by?
Attachments
thumbnail_20210917_092151.jpg

User avatar
Barry Kirsten
Posts: 229
Joined: 27 Feb 2015, 11:13
Location: Brookfield, Vic.

Re: Success in the darkroom

Postby Barry Kirsten » 17 Sep 2021, 15:09

Hi John,

Congrats on a successful print, the first of many I trust. It seems we might be two of a kind when it comes to making something rather than buying a commercial one. I don't have a plan for a fixed size easel, although I've thought about it from time to time. I made myself a four blade 12x16 easel which works well. However a few moments thought just now came up with the following idea: when pouring carbon tissues I place the support material on a piece of galvanised steel sheet then hold it all down with magnetic strips to form a well into which the 'glop' (pigmented gelatin solution) is poured. The strip is obtainable from Bunnings in several widths and can be cut off the roll with scissors. It occurs to me that the same could work for an easel. Index marks could be drawn on the steel plate to facilitate placement of both paper and magnetic strips, and once one edge is held down, the rest would follow easily.

An idea for a wooden one: I'd start with a wooden base, say a piece of 6mm MDF cut a little larger all round than an 8x10 sheet. I'd then get some picture frame moulding (or timber with a rebate) and cut the four pieces such that a piece of printing paper would fit neatly within. Three of those would be permanently fixed to the baseboard, allowing paper to be slid in. The fourth would close the rectangle and should maybe locked in with two pins to prevent movement. The printing paper should sit on an 8x10 piece of cardboard to keep it snugly against the front of the frame. If I was doing this I'd cut the frame pieces on the router with a tiny rebate just slightly deeper than the paper thickness, making any packing under the paper unnecessary. Hope those ideas help.

Walter Glover
Posts: 1270
Joined: 31 Jul 2012, 22:31
Location: Leichhardt, NSW

Re: Success in the darkroom

Postby Walter Glover » 17 Sep 2021, 22:22

John,

Take heed of Barry, he is a master of Roll Your Own and works to a remarkable level level of craftsmanship and innovation. I once purchased a camera from him for which he'd fashioned bespoke lens boards for regular Copal shutters and flange mounted barrel lenses that were better than the original Toyo equivalents. He's your go-to man!

Let ask you, how many really good easels have you seen and handled? Are there any particular models that appeal? Variable margins in one corner? Four bladed? Yellow or white board?

You might also need to have a notion of how wide you're wanting to have the boarders and whether they're equal on all sides. or to have a wider bottom corner to allow for a signature between print and matte board.

Back when I as shooting 10x8 my plan was to contact print ONLY with rebate included positiond in the centre of a sheet of 16x12 paper (determined by the size of the contact printing frame and paper size availability locally. I found a crowd a Kurnell that clould lazer cut sheet metal. You could make a board with a simple "L" corner (simple as a row of nails) into which you place the paper with the lazer-cut frame above it.

My question without notice is: are you sure you mightn't want to alter the aspect raiio at some time?
Walter Glover

"We see things not as they are. We see them as we are."
Emanuel Kant

John Power
Posts: 94
Joined: 26 May 2021, 10:18

Re: Success in the darkroom

Postby John Power » 18 Sep 2021, 11:26

Thanks Barry!
Great to hear your thoughts on this, and happy that they are in the same directions that i was thinking, too. I have an old pressed steel shelving that I think I could use with magnet strips and this will probably be my first port of call. I'm taking some time to think about how to mark it up to get things happening consistently... and wonder about magnets moving the base around as i peel them up. I might end up weighting it a bit to make it more solid.

And Walter, that also very good input, and the answer is that I will almost certainly want to change the aspect ratio and size of my prints... flexibility is needed, no doubt!
I've just picked up an old 6x6 folding camera that will produce negatives that match the enlarger, so hoping that i can learn to utilise the square frame while shooting and print square, too.

Thanks again gents, I will report back :)
JP

User avatar
Barry Kirsten
Posts: 229
Joined: 27 Feb 2015, 11:13
Location: Brookfield, Vic.

Re: Success in the darkroom

Postby Barry Kirsten » 18 Sep 2021, 16:42

Walter is too kind, I am just a dabbler who tries to do his best. I make many mistakes, but enjoy myself doing DIY. Walter's thoughts are worth pondering on if you might want variable margins. For routine proofing, or even fine printing, a simple one-size easel might do you. If I mount and frame a print I almost always cut right back to the image boundaries and mount with a window mat, the mat then governing how much space is left on each edge. But there are many ways to mount prints and each has ist merits.

Another quick easel solution is similar to my first suggestion and also uses a magnetic plastic border on metal. For this you use a sheet of magnetised plastic, rather than strips. It's probably identical to the strip material but in sheet form. People who make signs will have it as lots of signs nowadays have to stick to metal, like car doors. Just get a piece of this and cut out a window slightly smaller than 8x10. I'd leave a good border so the edges remain straight. Mark corners on your metal sheet, place the paper accordingly and place the frame on top (without moving the paper). Gluing the magnetic frame to a piece of ply would keep it rigid and ensure the border stayed straight. Just another thought. But if you want real precision, you won't better Walter's suggestion of laser cutting.


Return to “The Print”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

cron