Wednesday, 24 December 2014

New Printing Videos on Darkroom Dave

There are 3 new videos covering the darkroom printing process on Darkroom Dave as well as YouTube.

Making your first black and white print Tutorial
This tutorial includes how to make a test strip and how to make a print using a single exposure. 2 of the videos are included here.

Split Grade Printing the Ilford Way
Split grade printing should be the normal way to make prints on variable contrast papers like Ilford Multigrade. One of the new videos describes the technique.

These 3 videos summarise what I cover on my darkroom printing workshops. Here are the videos:

Making a Test Strip

Making a Print

Split Grade Printing

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Photographs on Ilford Stand at Photokina

Found this post sitting in my blog drafts. No idea why I didn't post when I wrote it in September but suspect blogger crashed again on my mobile and I forgot to go back to it:

Just received a photo, courtesy of Steven Brierley, of my pictures on the Ilford Photo stand at Photokina 2014. Visit them on stand A10/B15 in Hall 3 until 21st September.

Monday, 22 December 2014

New Images of the Dolomites

I have been busy scanning images for my new books and have finished the section of images for the Dolomites that I will select from. Here's a sample from them.

Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Tre Cime di Lavaredo Reflections

Forcella Ambrizolla

Cadini di Misurina

Monte Pelmo from Forc. Formin

Monte Piana Summit View

Val de Rinbianco Tree

Col Toron and Bird

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Christmas Contemporary Art and Craft Fair at RHS Wisley until Sunday 30th November

We are doing a show at RHS Wisley with Craft in Focus. It's the highest quality show that we do and there are about 150 designer-maker exhibitors from all over the country.

It's on right now until this Sunday (30th November). Entry is free to RHS members and there's lots of car parking at the venue.

Jan is doing this one on her own and it's usually a busy show but that's how she prefers to do it. I just get in the way otherwise!

There's lots of new pictures, including Vienna as well as a few new ones of London, lots of bargains, especially smaller prints from £5.

You can also buy all 4 books for £20. My Lake District book Lake Light is going fast, we now have less than 40 copies from the 1500 print run. Once they are sold there will be no more, it's not being reprinted as I have too many new images still to publish, hence the 2 new landscape books that I'm currently working on.

Here are some photos of our stand at RHS Wisley that Jan took today, a bit more space than last year so things aren't as cramped, it will be easier for you to browse the prints and books.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Our Last Buxton Show of 2014

We are in the middle of doing our last art and craft fair in Buxton for this year. It's the Artist and Designer Fair in Buxton Pavilion Gardens. Open 10am to 4.30pm tomorrow, Sunday 23rd November, free entry. About 45 exhibitors with lots of different types of work.

We have lots of pictures, maybe 400 in total, landscape and cities, all in glorious black and white. Jan also has a selection of her colour prints on the stand. Lots of Christmas shopping ideas, clearance framed photographs, reduced price mounted prints, offers on books and lots more.

This may be the last show in our local area for now but we still have one more show after this at RHS Wisley Gardens starting Tuesday 25th November. More on this in a couple of days.

Friday, 14 November 2014

3 Shires Head in Spate on Photo Course

Today I ran a personal Peak District photo course for Nick and Rex who work together in Windsor.

Not the best day weatherwise! Heavy rain delayed our start. Then we had a break in the weather, headed out and had over an hour dry and took advantage with some good waterfall photos in the Goyt Valley.

The rain returned at noon so we went for an early lunch at the Church Inn in Chelmorton. A sunny afternoon was forecast and we didn't want to miss it!

As usual the sun came out while we were in the pub.

We resumed the day taking photographs of the small fields, dry stone walls and trees from Chelmorton Low, the hill behind the pub.

Big clouds came over to block the light so we went off for more waterfalls as they don't need sunshine to make them impressive.

3 Shires Head was in full spate. I can't remember seeing so much water here before, and I've been here dozens of times over the years. Lots of scope for stunning photos.

Only my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone to record for this blog. Hope these give you an idea of what it was like. The last 2 show how conversion to black and white changes the scene.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

New Images of Vienna

In September 2014 we visited Vienna for the first time. I took 22 rolls of 120 film on my Mamiya 7 cameras, with 10 shots to a roll.

In order to put them on my website I have scanned the first batch of negatives and edited them in Photoshop to look like darkroom images. This is so that I can print them in the darkroom as needed.

Here are some of the photographs. Click here for the Vienna photos on my gallery website.

Freyung Passage at Night

Hofburg Palace Skyline

 Spanish Riding School Stables

 Prater Park Ferris Wheel at Dusk

 Upper Belvedere Palace Reflections

Cathedral and Haas Haus

Hofburg Statue at Dusk

City Hall at Night

Thursday, 6 November 2014

ICHF Crafts for Christmas Show at the Birmingham NEC 2014

It's the first day of the Crafts For Christmas Show at the NEC Hall 19.
Open until Sunday 9th November, 9.30am to 5.30pm. Free entry into Hobbycrafts Show as well. Several hundred exhibitors in both shows.

Our stand is F06. Here are a few photos. Lots of show offers for Christmas shoppers!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Peak Light Lecture in Bury Thursday 30th October

I am lecturing to Bury Photographic Society tonight. It's my Peak Light lecture with lots of Peak District photos from my Peak Light book as well as cities, Alps and Yosemite.

Here are the details.

There's no charge if you want to visit tonight, Thursday 30th October 2014!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Glasgow Crafts For Christmas 2014

It was the first day of the Crafts For Christmas Show at the Glasgow SECC. If you are coming along our stand is D11.

We have lots of photographs with show offers. Jan's colour photos too.

It's a couple of years since we last did this show. Last year we did the Scottish Ideal Home Show in May. Back to wet and windy October!

Here's a couple of photos taken as the show opened.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

October Newsletter, New Photos, Christmas Events

My October newsletter has just gone out. Lots of new landscape photos, especially Alpine ones. News of events in run up to Christmas and new City Light lecture too.

Reichenbach Falls, Alpine Pass Route, Switzerland

City Light lecture prints ready to go!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Lecture in Coventry Tonight, Wednesday 15th October 2014, 8pm KO

I'm lecturing to the Mercia Photographic Group in Coventry tonight, starting at 8pm. It's the second time out for my new lecture City Light with the first section being from my book of the same name. After the break there is a set of pictures following the 205 miles of the Alpine Pass Route across Central Switzerland. The last section is New Zealand landscapes followed by some cities including Sydney and Hong Kong.

Here's a link to the details on my DarkroomDave website.
Their website says all welcome so if you want to come along then please do.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Great Peak District Fair 2014

It was the first day of the Great Peak District Fair today in Buxton Pavilion Gardens. We're in the Octagon as usual with a full stand of photographs.

Busy show so far. Sunday we open at 10am and the show ends at 5pm. Come and see us if you can.

Over 100 exhibitors, art, craft, food and drink including the Buxton Beer Festival.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Scafell Pike in the Sunshine

What a spectacular day we've had in the Lake District! Sunshine pretty much all day. We've come away for a few days taking photos.

Today we went up Scafell Pike, highest mountain in England, to take the pictures I would have taken in June if the weather had been better. Quite a contrast, in June it was heavy rain and thick cloud, today was sunshine with white fluffy clouds most of the day.

Also repeated a shot I took on a dull day many years ago. Great Gable reflected in a small lake. No reflections this time but a great sky.

The black and white picture I also took on my Mamiya 7 camera and Ilford FP4 film. Ran off 5 rolls in total with 10 negatives on each 7 x 6 cm.

Great Gable phone version

Mamiya 7 camera taking the proper photos
Crowds on Scafell Pike summit

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Making your first black and white print

Darkroom Papers and Printing
The key to good black and white printing is control of the contrast. To make it easy to follow, numbers have been assigned to contrast levels and these are referred to as grades. The scale can vary between manufacturers but typically the contrast range is numbered between grades 0 and 5. Normal contrast is around grade 2 or 3, low contrast is 0 and high contrast is 5. As the grade number increases so does the contrast.

The papers are sensitive to blue and green light (as well as white light of course) but not orange and red. This means that they can be handled for exposure and processing under red or orange coloured lights. These are called safelights.

Types of photographic darkroom papers
There are 2 basic types of darkroom printing papers:
Graded: these are papers with fixed contrast. If you need to change the contrast in a print you will have to buy another box of paper with different contrast. This has led to a considerable reduction in the use of these papers and a reduced range of grades being available to buy. Ilford for example only make grades 2 and 3 for Galerie graded paper. Film needs to be processed so that the contrast of your films is roughly matched to the contrast of the paper.

Variable Contrast, VC: This type of paper gives you all the contrasts from grades 0 to 5 in one box. You change the colour of the light used for the exposure to change the paper contrast. A leading example of this type of paper is Ilford Multigrade and it has effectively replaced graded papers for creative printing.

RC or FB:
RC stands for resin-coated and is much easier and quicker to use. You will be making good prints more quickly with RC paper.

FB is for Fibre-Based. This gives the ultimate quality, maximum black density and archival lifetime. The increase in density as prints dry is very difficult to judge, even for an experienced printer.

It is much more difficult to use properly so I would suggest that you don't use FB papers until you are making good prints with RC paper.

Glossy gives deepest blacks and hence greatest contrast. There will be lots of reflections off the surface making fingerprints and other marks highly visible. It is not good for situations with lots of handling of prints.

Matt gives dark grey not black when compared to a glossy print. It is best for high key images or those which don't have strong blacks. It is also good for displaying prints in areas where there is lots of light from many directions as it will not pick up reflections on the surface.

Pearl is the compromise between glossy and matt. It is good for framing prints without a window matt as the lightly textured surface prevents patterns forming between glass and print surface. It also easier to handle as any marks are less obvious.

If you are new to darkroom printing I suggest you start with RC Pearl paper.

How photographic darkroom papers work
There is no ink in a darkroom print! The density in a black and white darkroom print is silver metal. The silver is coated with gelatin to hold it in place and is often referred to as a silver gelatin print.

Contrast comes from having different levels of silver built up across the print. With VC papers it is controlled using specific colours of light. The useful colours that make variable contrast papers work are from blue to green light. In practice, filters are used to block particular colours.

Ilford Multigrade papers contain 3 emulsions with different sensitivities to blue and green light. All 3 emulsions have the same high sensitivity to blue light which gives lots of density and this increases the contrast. Using blue-green or green light the sensitivity of each emulsion varies so this produces less density and in turn lower contrast.

In practice, exposure times are shorter using the complementary colours of yellow and magenta. A yellow filter blocks out most of the blue light for low contrast, magenta filters allow blue light to pass through resulting in high contrast.

Filters for VC papers come in various shapes and sizes. Some enlargers have VC heads with the filters built-in. These are the easiest to use. Under lens filters and above lens filter drawers are quite easy to use too. The filter kits cover all of the grades from 0 to 5 in ½ grade steps. Under the lens filter kits are usually provided with a universal filter drawer that will fit any enlarger. 

Colour Heads are not so easy to use but tables of filter settings for different enlarger heads are provided in every box of paper. The yellow and magenta filters built in to every colour head enlarger can be used but lack the high contrast and will not give grade 5 and some struggle to reach grade 4. Also, exposure times vary as filters are changed unlike filter kits where exposure times are constant as grades are changed.

An advantage of VC and colour head enlargers is that they produce diffused light which reduces hair and dust that would be visible on prints from other types of enlarger.

The Process
To make a black and white print there are 2 essential chemical steps, Develop and Fix, with an optional Stop between them. You will need 3 dishes and they must be labelled to avoid contamination of the developer. A trace of fixer in developer can lead to inconsistent results.

Use the times and dilutions stated on the products that you buy. The chemicals are usually liquid concentrates. You just pour out the required amount of each, add water and stir.

The first solution is called a developer since it develops the latent image formed in paper by the enlarger exposure.

The second optional step uses a so-called stop bath. The only purpose of this is to stop development by converting the print from being slightly alkaline to slightly acid. This has the effect of extending the life of the fixer so that more prints can be processed (fixer is much more expensive than stop bath!). Note, water cannot be used as a stop bath, it must be weakly acid and commercial products are either acetic (smells of vinegar) or citric acid (odourless).

The final chemical step is fixing with a fixer solution. This is essential as it makes the print stable to light by removing surplus silver that hasn’t been used in forming the image on the paper. If you skip this step your print will go black when you turn on the room lights!

You can now turn on the room lights.

The final step is to wash your print in running water. RC papers only need about 5 minutes and the temperature has to be above 6ÂșC for it to be effective. FB papers need at least 30 minutes.

The print can now be hung up to dry for an hour or two on a washing line over a sink or bath, or dried with a hair dryer which usually takes a few minutes. FB papers will need many hours to dry.

During each step agitation is crucial. Don’t just put the print in the dish and wander off, rock the dish to move the chemicals around the print. This avoids local exhaustion of the chemicals in contact with the print.

Note, the basic photographic chemicals for black and white printing are not hazardous when used correctly. Follow the health and safety recommendations on the chemical packaging. 

Basic Test Strips
In order to make a print you need to choose an exposure time by making a test print. In fact you usually cut strips of paper about 2 inches or so wide so that one sheet of paper does several test strips. Take the negative carrier out of the enlarger.

Place the strip of negatives into the carrier shiny side up and select the negative that you are going to print.

Put the carrier back into the enlarger and turn it on. You should be able to read the writing at the edge of the film when you turn the enlarger on and view the image on the baseboard. If it reads backwards the negative is in upside down.

Put your paper easel on the baseboard directly under the lens and adjust the blades to the paper size you are using. This holds the paper flat and stops it moving during exposure. The blades give white borders to the print that can make your prints look quite smart.

Move the enlarger head up and down until you have the desired size image for the paper being used.

Fine-tune the focus with a grain magnifier then turn the enlarger lamp off by switching it to timer mode, assuming it has one!

Set the lens aperture to f8 or f11 for best sharpness.

Select filter 2 or 2.5 and place into the filter drawer. This is a good starting point for normal contrast negatives.

You are now ready to do a test strip.

Exposure testing
Having cut your piece of paper into 2 inch strips take one and place on the easel in part of the image so that each of several steps will have light and dark areas, if possible. You will do about 4 to 6 steps on the strip of paper so roughly work out how big each step will be. In the example here we will use 4 equal steps.

Expose the whole strip for 10 seconds.

Take a piece of card (thick enough that light can’t penetrate!) and cover up about a quarter of the length of the strip. It’s best if the paper and card surfaces touch to avoid light piping around the edges and on to adjacent steps. Stop the paper moving as you slide the card over the top of it by sticking the strip down with BluTac or similar.

Expose for a further 10 seconds.

Cover up another quarter of the strip and so on for 4 exposures.

Process the test strip as described above.

There is an alternative test strip method which doubles the time for each step. This can be useful if you don’t have a clue what the required exposure time will be. The steps would then be 10, 20, 40 and 80 seconds in this example. Hopefully, you will quickly get the feel for the likely range of exposures and the simpler method described can be used most of the time. 

Note, you should avoid exposure times over 50 seconds or so as the papers rapidly lose sensitivity here. Open the aperture ring by one stop to halve the exposure times instead, for example, use f8 instead of f11.

Print Evaluation 
First you need to look for the first step that shows small areas with some black, not dark grey.

If you have steps where one is too light and the next too dark choose an intermediate value.

If in doubt do another exposure with smaller steps.

If needed as a final check, expose an entire strip at these settings before committing to a full sheet of paper.

Check the strip again for blacks across the area.

If the strip exposure still looks reasonable make a print on a full sheet of paper at this exposure with the same filter.

Now judge the overall image for exposure and contrast.

If there are large areas of white the contrast is too high and you need to reduce the grade.

If the print has lots of detail everywhere with little or no bright areas try increasing the contrast using a higher grade.

If you have too much black with no detail try reducing the exposure time.

Print judgement is something that comes with practice, but the more you print the easier it becomes. The only shortcut that I know of is to come on a darkroom printing course with me!

If all else fails with exposure and contrast changes affecting the whole print then local adjustment of the density and contrast are needed. This uses simple techniques called dodging and burning or a different basic technique like split-grade printing. But that’s for another article!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

New Print Lecture City Light Finished

I have just finished pulling together my latest lecture. It's called City Light after my book of the same name. Lots of hints and tips throughout and explaining how I pull my pictures together.

Its a print lecture, as usual. Ilford Photo generously donated the Ilford Multigrade FB Glossy 20 x 16 inch paper for me to make the darkroom prints on. It's very expensive to do print lectures now and this sort of help makes the difference between preparing a new lecture or not. I also included a few 24 x 20 inch prints for good measure.

The first half is all cities from my City Light book. It's based on my lecture on how to photograph cities that I presented at PhotoLive in London last year with quite a lot of new prints added in.

The second half is in 2 parts, the 205 mile Alpine Pass Route in Switzerland that we hiked last year followed by New Zealand and a few Far East city views including Sydney and Hong Kong.

I made the last 5 prints yesterday and mounted, spotted and trimmed everything. This morning I finished the running order. There are 45 prints in each half, 90 in total. This is the most I have ever included in a 1.5 hour lecture. In all I used just under 300 sheets of paper, including spares, and around 18 days printing in the darkroom.

The pile of 90 prints in my City Light lecture

It's a nice feeling when a new lecture is finished and is ready to go!

All set now for the world premiere at the North Cheshire Photographic Society in Poynton on 30th September 2014!

For information, I give lectures across the UK to all sorts of clubs, so if your club would like me to visit and give one of my lectures please contact me through my website. I'm also listed in the PAGB (Photographic Alliance of Great Britain) Handbook under lecturers for LCPU and NEMPF but I will travel anywhere as long as you pay me!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Vienna in the Sunshine

Jolly nice day in Vienna today. We took lots of photos. New places as well as some previously visited in poor weather in last 2 days.

I have some decent shots and hopefully they will appeal to people who know Vienna. Coincidentally someone asked for pictures of Vienna at our last show, at Crowthorne in August.

One of the places revisited was Karlskirche, with a reflection today.

So many iconic buildings in Vienna have scaffolding and shrouds around all or part of them. Tricky finding angles to avoid the distractions.

Jan was pleased too as we found time to visit the Hotel Sacher for the very special Sachertorte. It was excellent, allegedly!

Home tomorrow.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Vienna Wet and Dry

Today was a big day for us in more ways than one. Lots to photograph after the day time washout yesterday and lots of walking. In fact Jan's Fitbit said we walked just over 20 miles!

The distance came from walking to the Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel in Prater Park. This is the one in The Third Man film and is one of the main tourist attractions so was on the shooting list for 2 reasons.

I wanted day and night photos so we went over this morning as it was dry with rain forecast later. Then we walked there again late afternoon, in the rain, arriving in time for dusk which then led into the night photos, between showers.

In all I spent well over an hour this morning and an hour this evening photographing the wheel.

It was a half decent day between showers so I photographed lots of the iconic buildings too.

Forgot to take stuff on my phone so just a couple of shots from Belvedere.

Tomorrow is also forecast to be changeable so fingers crossed for more good skies.

In total I took 11 rolls of Ilford FP4 120 film, making a total of 13 with last night's 2 rolls.

Analogue Photography Alive and Kicking in Vienna

On our way back to our hotel for a break in the photography proceedings I noticed this shop window. Analogue photography is obviously still thriving here.

A large part of the shop window was given over to Ilford pinhole cameras, all three of them!

I'm not the only dinosaur in Vienna!