Feeding The Monkey
After not shooting a roll in months to say my trigger finger is itchy is an understatement. To satisfy my urges last weekend I dug out some old 35mm film and loaded up my Yashica FR-1 and took some randomly selected shots around the house and out and about. Mostly of Jess eating her tea (much to her disdain). I do not like Ilford Delta in Rodinal so I opened a pack of ID11 I got with my darkroom and gave that a try. The negative seems to have come out with good contrast and hopefully I will be able to do some printing this weekend.
Now, on to the main point of this post. Due to the complete lack of recent shooting I decided to dig through my old negatives. I decided to try and print an image I had tried and failed before. It’s from a trip Jess and I took to Bowland back in summer of an animal shelter in the hills with a nice puff of cloud above it. The problem is I just can’t seem to get it right using straight printing. The image is extremely low contrast due to the fact I used too heavy a grad on the sky. I should probably dedicate more time to it I suppose (and learn to master my metering and filtration better). But for this short session I decided to try and lith it. I have been suing Agfa Brovira a lot lately but didn’t think it would suit this image and I didn't want to use my few remaining pieces of Fotospeed Lith. I wanted something gritty and super-high contrast. I decided to once again try Slavich Unibrom. Here I learn't an important lesson. When trying to “feed the darkroom monkey”, don’t use a paper you haven’t mastered yet. As usual I got grossly uneven development. I tried a few sheets changing my method slightly; a pre-soak, more diluted developer, but didn’t get anything near the image I had in my head. I gave up after a few hours and went inside.
The next day I was looking through a few of the prints and found one I actually rather liked. Although the development wasn’t as even as I had hoped the image was still quite pleasing. And at this point we learn lesson number two – don’t immediately dismiss a print. Sleep on it (not literally) and come back to it the next day. Don’t rush towards the final image because you may discover something different that you prefer. It’s advice I have read in books many times but far too often I get carried away trying to get something finished, but maybe it’s just me that does that.
So lessons learned – I need to slow down and I need to work harder at finding my own way of taming Slavich Unibrom. For now I leave you with the image I made and the promise of further updates soon: