The film photography & darkroom work of David Kirby

Behind The Print: Jetty

As stated in my previous post i've been having a busy time of it lately.  But, now that all the decorating is done (for the moment anyway) I have managed to grab some time to scan my test prints and present this article to you, how i made my (almost) latest print.

This print came as the result of shooting a roll of film at a recently found new destination which I wrote about in this article.  There are a few frames on the roll which I will start printing soon but I rather fancied getting started on this one first.  Speaking of which, I guess I had better show you the final print first hadn't I:

It was printed 8" x 8" on Ilford MGIV FB (multigrade fibre-based) paper using Ethol LPD diluted 1:4 for a nice slightly warm tone.

This print was an absolute trial to make.  I wasted so much paper trying to get the dodging and burning spot on and trying to get the final tone how I wanted it to be.  In the end I even had to swap paper entirely, moving from Ilford's MG FB WT (multigrade fibre-based warmtone) to standard neutral multigrade.  Anyway, on with the narrative.

As I seem to always do these days I decided to split grade print this frame.  As usual I did my grade 00 exposure first and this was the result:

I chose the appropriate exposure and then made my grade 4 1/2 exposure:

After selecting the best hard exposure I combined to two onto one sheet to see how my base print looked.  From there I would be able to start determining dodging and burning requirements.

It looked ok for a base exposure but definitely needed some work to bring it to life.  I spent hour after hour and test strip after test strip trying to figure out how to make this print "pop".  The grassy areas to the right and left of the jetty received a 2/3 burn at grade 00, whilst the triangular shaped section of grass in the centre received a whole stop extra exposure.  Then, the sky was burned in at grade 00 for an extra 1/3.  After switching to grade 4 1/2 and making my base exposure the jetty as a whole was dodged for 5/6 whilst the sky received 1/3 burn and the right & left borders of the print and the base received and extra 1/6 exposure.  After a quick wash the jetty received some bleaching using a dilute potassium ferricyanide/potassium bromide bleach.  My f-stop timer told me that I was printing at an effective grade of 3 1/2.  Once thing I should mention is that I added a 11% dry-down compensation to my exposures whilst making this print.  This is something I can program into my f-stop timer; and, conveniently, my timer also tells me what grade i am effectively printing at when using split grade printing.  In this instance I was printing at grade 3 1/2.  Always good to know!

Once thoroughly washed the print was bleach for 2 minutes in a potassium ferricyanide/potassium bromide bleach diluted 1:7 and then toned in standard sepia toner.  After another wash the print was then toned in selenium diluted 1:9 for 12 minutes.

You may recall that I mentioned earlier about switching from Ilford warmtone paper to neutral.  The reason for this was that I wanted to use the selenium toner to boost the shadow areas of the print and give the contrast a little more pop.  Using selenium, even diluted 1:9 caused the print to take on a very warm, reddish tone.  I have used this tone to good effect in other prints such as the one of the cottage in front of a mountain as can be seen in my "Landforms" gallery, but for this print it just wasn't working at all.  On top of the extreme tone, the shadow areas went "nuclear" and swallowed up a lot of the midtone detail in the grass, especially in the bottom left of the print.  I didn't want this so I decided to switch to a neutral paper.  Here's a rough scan of the warmtone print:

Here si the final print again to save to having to scroll to the top of this post:

I don't think this is the greatest print I have ever made, nor is it the worst, but i'm happy with the final result.  To be honest it's nice to have this print finished and out of my mind for a while, such was the effort it took to get the final print.  Sometimes you just get a frame that's a challenge to print, but often these are the prints that teach us things which we can apply to future prints.

For reference, here's my print data sheet with all my dodging and burning times and toning information on:

Hopefully some of you have found that helpful or at least had a good read and killed a few minutes.  As always if you have any questions then feel free to get in touch.  As for future posts I have just finished a print this week which I am very excited to share as I think it is one of my best, and I am working on some more tutorials which hopefully I will post over the coming weeks.

Until our next meeting, happy printing!