More time in the dark

Still no safelight so I get frustrated quickly when printing, but that should be rectified soon.  Even so I scraped an hour or so out of my schedule to try and crank out another print or two last night.  Results were not quite what I had hoped for:

Better exposure, but neg was damaged.

Better exposure, but neg was damaged.

I loaded up the other exposure of the old canal, decided to try a vertical crop instead of the native square (in hopes of cropping out some of the falloff in the corners caused by the lubitel) and after a quick test strip did a test print.  That’s it above.  As usual my scanner mangled it pretty good – one day I’ll find a way to get that scanner to reproduce images accurately instead of trying to “correct” them.  The good news is that as I suspected the exposure is MUCH better on this frame and the tones were very close to where I wanted them printed on #2.  The bad news though far outweights that.  The image is soft, my focus wasn’t quite where I wanted it unlike the other slightly underexposed image.  And then there’s the squiggle.

It was a piece of hair.  And sadly it wasn’t just on the negative, it was IN the negative, actually embedded into the emulsion 🙁  Removing the hair was easy enough – but once removed it left a canyon in the emulsion.  It was either there from the factory (unlikely), got onto the film when I was rolling it onto the spool for processing (fairly likely given how deeply it was embedded) or got there when the film was still wet and hung to dry (also very likely given our excitement over the first roll of film processed in the new house and our eagerness to inspect it.)

Had it been damage on the other side of the negative a little nose grease or no scratch would have been able to cover it.  But alas, a deep wound to the emulsion like this is far more grave.  Way too big to spot out.  I could correct it in photoshop…but I’m not looking for a digital solution here.  So this neg is effectively trash 🙁

If it wasn’t for the focus being a bit off I’d be kind of bummed.  But as it is I guess it’s just and excuse to go back out there again for some shooting sometime.

The other quick print I did was far more gratifying.  The scene itself isn’t all that great…but the exposure was quite nice, it was remarkably sharp for the equipment used, and the print came out almost exactly as I had visualized it which was gratifying:

Lizard sunning on a weathered post.

Lizard sunning on a weathered post.

Of course as usual my scanner has “corrected” the print and thrown off the original tones.  Contrast has been increased, subtleties have been lost, and sharpness and detail were lost to the scanner as well.  But it felt good to get a print Iw as happy with after just one test – even if the image itself isn’t all that great!

Hopefully this weekend we’ll find time to put light to film and get some negatives I’m a little more excited about printing.  Saturday we’re going to a local couples house to see if we are interested in any of their old darkroom equipment so with luck I’ll be able to pick up a safelight and printing won’t be quite as much of a chore anymore.

Assuming of course that I finish installing our vent fan and track down whatever has mysteriously caused two electrical circuits in our backyard to suddenly fail at the same time 🙁


  1. Most of your b/w papers have very low sensitivity to red and orange.

    It occurs to me they sell red and orange party lights at Home Depot. I wonder if you put a diffuser around them, if they would work as a safelight.

    I think they are a tad bright for darkroom, that’s why I think you could diffuse the light or put one far on the other side of the darkroom.

    Maybe you could use a lampshade to just bounce the light into the ceiling.

  2. I saw those…but they didn’t look like they’d be quite right. And they are pretty bright.

    Bill Butler hooked me up with some old safelight bulbs, though one turned out to be a 100w bug light 😀 And then a few days later I scored another bulb and 2 fixtures – but they set me back a few bucks.

    So now I have 2 amber safelights in the bedroom with the enlarger, a red bulb in the laundry room with the trays, and another red bulb in the dining room just outside the actual darkroom.

    It works quite well, lots of light to work by and no fogging at all after a 5 minute test of pre-sensitized paper! Now I just need to find a 75 or 80mm lens for one of the enlargers to get rid of the falloff when printing 120 negs!

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