Info | Contact | CV | Links | Technical
and White (Darkroom) Work
Cameras used ....
Industrial and Landscape categories
4" x 5" Large Format
Toyo 4x5 Monorail, Nagaoka 4x5 Field Camera
and Horseman 4x5 Field Camera
Rodenstock Sironar 150 mm f 5.6 / Rodenstock Sironar 210 mm f 5.6 / Rodenstock
Grandagon 90 mm f6.8
6 x 6 cm Medium Format
Mamiya C330 6x6 TLR / Mamiya-Sekor 80 mm f 2.8 / Mamiya-Sekor 55
mm f 4.5
Hasselblad 500 C/M 6x6 SLR / Carl Zeiss Planar 80 mm f 2.8
8" x 10" Large Format
Nagaoka 8x10 Field Camera / Rodenstock
Apo Ronar 480 mm f9 / Congo 300 mm
Nagaoka 4x5 Field Camera
Horseman 4x5 Field Camera
Nagaoka 8x10 Field Camera
Hasselblad 500 C/M 6x6 SLR
Minolta SRT 303b 35 mm SLR
Commercial film developers used included
Agfa Rodinal for
35 mm film and also for medium
format roll film (120 roll film) .
Some earlier experiments were made with Paterson
FX-1 and the Geoffry Crawley Beutler
All large format film was developed in a modified
Pyro formula and in later years the PMK* Pyro formula.
These were mixed from raw chemicals and great care needed to be
taken when mixing and preparing solutions due to the toxic nature
of Pyrogallol with particular attention given to the use of gloves,
respirators and ventilation control (on other occasions, I had
experimented with Pyrocatechin which was considered even more toxic
than Pyrogallol, but nevetheless was capable of producing negatives
of great tonal range and delicacy, and again, great care needed
to be taken during preparation)
*Pyrogallol based developers provided
superior shadow and highlight separations compared to commercial
developers, but were notorius for uneven development problems and
considerable skill was required to control them. Subsequent darkroom
printing also required substantial dodging and burning processes
to maintain image 'smoothness' and eveness. The development of
the PMK formula
by Gordon Hutchings in the early 1990's solved these problems and
was essentially the 'Holy Grail' for Pyro users , being stable,
providing even development and as a bonus was relatively simple
to use in comparisen to all other Pyro formulas.
Pyro Link 1 | Pyro
Link 2 | Pyro
Link 3 | Pyrocatechin
Link | Agfa
Rodinal Link | Paterson
FX-1 Link | Beutler
Print Development (Darkroom Printing) ... Often
referred to as Silver
Gelatin Prints in Gallery and Archival references
Papers Link | Mixing
Developers Link | Dr.
Beers Contrast Control Developer |
Any darkroom prints were made using graded silver gelatin
papers (prior to the development of multigrade silver gelatin papers
that first appeared in the
early 1990's )
majority of prints made were on Fibre Based (FB) Grade # 2 papers such
as Ilford Gallerie Grade #2 and Agfa Record Rapid #2.
the time Multigrade FB papers had reached a suitable level of refinement,
I had moved to digital printing processes.
Photographic Print Developers
In the early stages of my darkroom practice, I used Kodak
Dektol and Agfa Neutol Print Developers.
During the latter stages I began to mix my own formulas, concentrationg
on the Dr. Beers
system (using the Beers
A, Metol only formula in the
I also used the D130 (Glycin) formula, which became my favourite developer.
For a period of time, I also used the classic Amidol
based developer that Ansel Adams used so effectively, but
considering Amidol had to be imported from Germany at the time, a combination
of expensiveness and short tray life (not to mention having to handle
another toxic chemical) meant the move to the D130 Glycin formula was
essential (Glycin based developers have remarkable tray life and development
qualities that made it a superior choice).
Another approach was to use
two stage development... beginning development in Dr. beers A (low contrast)
and after 1 to 3 minutes , placing in a tray of Dr. Beers 7 (high contrast)...
this gave a great deal of contrast control, delicate highlights combined
with deep blacks and was the 'equivalent' of Multigrade paper before
Favorite Print Developers and Dilutuions ...
Beers A / Diluted 1:1 (Metol
only formula giving low contrast but still beautiful blacks)
D130 / Diluted 1:1
Dodging and Burning Process in the Darkroom
All images need some 'tonal re-mapping' to fully realise
A combination of ' burning' (to add print density) and 'dodging'
(to lighten print density) is needed to control the 'drawing' qualities
in the image. Some of my most complex images have needed up to twenty
or more separate processes (sometimes using masks) to create a refined
print. Fortunately this was the case in only a small number of prints.
Due to the potential for some un-eveness in the negative when using Pyro
developers, however, dodging and burning processes were still the norm
in the darkroom, and in particular, all prints from Pyro negs needed
some edge burning as a matter of course.
In many cases, I made detailed diagrams
and notes to help with any future printing. These would include notes
on dodging and burning times, choice of print developer (plus additional
notes on choice of restrainer and developer dilution) as well as notes
on any bleaching and toning processes. It seems rather tedious looking
back, but it was necessary once one got beyond using a basic paper and
commercial developer system.
Bleaching and Toning processes
Virtually all darkroom prints were modified with print
bleaching processes (mostly using the traditional 'Farmers Reducer' formula)
to delicately remove silver and lighten the highlight areas and allowing
tonal control in the highlights. I used to think of this process as a
method of refining the 'drawing' qualities of the image and for delicate
tonal re-mapping across the image. (I now effectively use digital equivalents
to this process in digital processing)
Likewise, all exhibition prints were toned in Selenium
Toner. While selenium toner's main function is to enhance the archival
qualities of photographic paper due to the addition of selenium complexes
over the silver, it also adds density to the blacks, with only
minimal change in print colour, producing a noticeably 'richer' print
with a greater sense of 'dimension'. As such, it was always an important
part of the fine print process.
The combination of print bleaching and selenium toing produced
prints of extraordiny depth and 'dimensionality'... I often show students
a darkroom print and a digitally printed equivalent as a comparison and
it is clearly evident that the darkrrom print (despite its imperfections)
is much more robust and 'dimensional' compared to the (perfect but 'flat'
in comparison) digital print.
While I love digital processes and am stunned by the quality of contemporary
digital pigment prints, and doubt I could ever go back to the darkroom, I
have yet to fully replicate this spatial quality of a 'fine print' in
the digital realm.
Other toners used included Tea Toning and very dilute (1:300)
solutions of Kodak Polytoner to
subtley warm the highlights. Tea toning (a very dilute solution of black
tea) changes the white paper base to a subtle 'off white' or 'eggshell
white' (the tannic acid in tea also acts as a preservative and therfore
enhances the archival qualities of photographic paper).