TwelveSmallSquares

The film photography & darkroom work of David Kirby

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: