Darkroom is the place where all magic happen. Trying different films, techniques and processes I found exciting every time I step into the darkroom. I could spent hours in there and it still wasn’t enough because always something new was coming up.
I tried different black and white films like ILFORD HP 5 Plus, ILFORD FP4 Plus, ILFORD DELTA 400 Pro, ILFORD PAN F Plus, and KODAK 100 TMX, My favourite was ILFORD FP 4 Plus, because the prints had fantastic contrast, I needed only few seconds to exposed paper, and the whole print process was very quick. I printed many pictures from this film. I didn’t like Kodak 100 TMX, because I spent hours trying to get some good prints from it and I had none. All prints were dull without contrast, which I thought it was enlarger fault but it was film.
The test strip tells what exposure to use before the whole image will be printed.
This is whole image which was covered with fabric and exposed.
I learned new techniques like contrast control, burning, pre-flashing or split grading, sepia toning and selenium which helped me to improve my prints. I have tried different types of paper like fibre papers with different tones and resin coated. I also tried expired papers with different textures which gave a unique effect.
The clock is very important in darkroom where you don’t look at the hours. Only seconds and minutes are count and time flies. The F-Stop application is very useful specially when you do test strip and need to count time between.
I had a pleasure to experiment with medium format camera Mamiya c220, which wasn’t easy to look down in the mirror where everything was opposite, find right exposure where everything is manual and keep young models under control:)
This multi-exposed picture was created without knowing how to use the camera and pressed to many times shutter release without rolling the film.
The most interesting technique I tried was Liquid Light printing. The possibilities to print on different surfaces are unlimited (eg. wood, metal, glass, even egg shell). They might be some difficulties, depending on surface, but every problem can be solved. I printed my picture on wax and I like the result I achieved at the first attempt.
Preparing the plate.
I melted wax in a pot. The old baking tray I laid out with aluminium foil which helps to take out solid wax plate from tray. I poured into the tray and left to congeal. When the wax turned into solid plate I took out from the tray. The surface was very smooth and liquid wouldn’t stick to it. I scratched it using sand paper and coated with gelatin melted before with small amount of water. That prepared plate I left for 24 hours to dry. I did Big A4 wax plate and small one for test.
Preparation the print
I choose digital image which I transferred to negative in Photoshop and printed on acetate. When I exposed in darkroom on resin coated paper, I found that the quality of the picture wasn’t very good but I didn’t mind because I wanted on the print visible brush strokes from liquid light.
Liquid Light coating
I coated wax plate with liquid light in darkness. I use brush for coating to get painting feeling. Coated plate I put in the box and black plastic bag to make sure no other light will get through to the plate. I put it in a fridge for 1 hour, then I took it out in darkroom and dried using hair dryer with cool breeze.
Printing on wax plate
Scared and excited with only one test plate I started printing process. I used the same exposure time as on resin paper. I put it in developer, then water, then bad fix and good fix. At the end I supposed to wash plate with water for 30 min but after few minutes liquid light started to coming off the plate so I took it out.
This is the final photograph printed on a wax plate.