Any tips on how to increase darkroom productivity?


Status
Not open for further replies.

waileong

Deregistered
Feb 5, 2003
2,519
0
0
Visit site
I find myself spending 4-5 hours at a stretch in the darkroom, but barely have 25 prints to show for it. This makes my productivity seem extremely low (5 prints per hour? 12 mins per print?). And this is without any dodging, burning, flashing or other fancy operations. Just straight work prints, trying to do a set of 4R prints from my roll. I know some people can spend hours over one print, dodging and burning until they get it right-- but this is different. When I want to do my 16x20, I can take hours or days-- but work prints should be faster, right?

Does anyone have tips on how to increase productivity?

I suppose it's possible to throw all the exposed paper into a paper safe and develop them in a batch, and thus save a little process time. But the problem is, without developing the prints after exposing, how will I know whether the exposure was right to begin with?

I'm using a long process that includes two fix + selenium toning + khca, so that takes a little longer. Chemical setup and cleanup prob takes up about 1/2 hour min, with the no of bottles and trays I have. Not much I can do about these fixed setup times, unless I change process, of course.

Does anyone have tips on how to increase productivity? It's not a subject much discussed in B&W forums anywhere.
 

student

Senior Member
Jul 26, 2004
3,074
0
0
waileong said:
I find myself spending 4-5 hours at a stretch in the darkroom, but barely have 25 prints to show for it. This makes my productivity seem extremely low (5 prints per hour? 12 mins per print?). And this is without any dodging, burning, flashing or other fancy operations. Just straight work prints, trying to do a set of 4R prints from my roll. I know some people can spend hours over one print, dodging and burning until they get it right-- but this is different. When I want to do my 16x20, I can take hours or days-- but work prints should be faster, right?

Does anyone have tips on how to increase productivity?

I suppose it's possible to throw all the exposed paper into a paper safe and develop them in a batch, and thus save a little process time. But the problem is, without developing the prints after exposing, how will I know whether the exposure was right to begin with?

I'm using a long process that includes two fix + selenium toning + khca, so that takes a little longer. Chemical setup and cleanup prob takes up about 1/2 hour min, with the no of bottles and trays I have. Not much I can do about these fixed setup times, unless I change process, of course.

Does anyone have tips on how to increase productivity? It's not a subject much discussed in B&W forums anywhere.
The answer is in your post.

1 Do you need to have work prints of all your exposures?

2 Do you have to have 2 fixes and selenium toning etc for the work prints? Which are to be thrown away?
 

pipefish

New Member
Dec 23, 2003
344
0
0
Where is your bottleneck? Getting the correct exposure times or processing? RC/FB?

What I do now to save time is to send the roll for a cheap scan and evaluate on computer. I find the large files more useful than the small work prints that I used to produce rather laboriously. I only print in the darkroom after I have explored all the possibilities with photoshop. Unfortunately what can be done quickly with PS takes a long time using the wet process.

My work print process was RC, fix once and a 30 minute wash. Where the roll is accurately exposed and has uniform light, only one exposure time for the prints was used. But my expectations of a work print are minimal - just to see how it looks on a 8x10 and where burning and dodging are needed. Longevity of the work print and absolutely accurate exposure was not important to me.
 

student

Senior Member
Jul 26, 2004
3,074
0
0
pipefish said:
My work print process was RC, fix once and a 30 minute wash. Where the roll is accurately exposed and has uniform light, only one exposure time for the prints was used. But my expectations of a work print are minimal - just to see how it looks on a 8x10 and where burning and dodging are needed. Longevity of the work print and absolutely accurate exposure was not important to me.

For RC work prints, I wash only 3 minutes.
 

catchlights

Moderator
Staff member
Sep 27, 2004
21,880
46
48
Punggol, Singapore
www.foto-u.com
Agreed with student,
just a contact print for a whole roll, and print a few piece for more details inspection, 2 baths fixing and selenium toning for work print is wasting time and money.
 

ellery

New Member
Jan 29, 2002
1,188
2
0
59
Visit site
waileong said:
I find myself spending 4-5 hours at a stretch in the darkroom, but barely have 25 prints to show for it. This makes my productivity seem extremely low (5 prints per hour? 12 mins per print?). And this is without any dodging, burning, flashing or other fancy operations. Just straight work prints, trying to do a set of 4R prints from my roll. I know some people can spend hours over one print, dodging and burning until they get it right-- but this is different. When I want to do my 16x20, I can take hours or days-- but work prints should be faster, right?

Does anyone have tips on how to increase productivity?

I suppose it's possible to throw all the exposed paper into a paper safe and develop them in a batch, and thus save a little process time. But the problem is, without developing the prints after exposing, how will I know whether the exposure was right to begin with?

I'm using a long process that includes two fix + selenium toning + khca, so that takes a little longer. Chemical setup and cleanup prob takes up about 1/2 hour min, with the no of bottles and trays I have. Not much I can do about these fixed setup times, unless I change process, of course.

Does anyone have tips on how to increase productivity? It's not a subject much discussed in B&W forums anywhere.
For 4r prints there is no real need to do the 2 fixer bath and selenium toning. Most people would work with a contact print, and in conjuntion with that and the negs and a loupe chose the best for enlargement. Most practice hands doing large number printing - expose in a batch and develop as a batch, you just have to learn the timing adjustment and a constant moving of the printing from bottom to top of pile. Your stop bath should be acidified and maybe 2 bath here is better. Fixing can be 1 bath but use in lower dilution format ie 1:4 over 1:9. Be conservative with all the chemicals - throw before they reach theoratical limits. Chemicals tend to be cheaper than time and paper. Do the print shuffle there too for say 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Use a larger tray for the fixing and also for the developing. If there is too much variation in the printing times, check your exposure and development (especially if more than 1 roll is involved). When I print now I can normally get a finished print in 2 enlargements plus 1 to 2 test strips for fine tuning the final - using the contact print timing as a guide. My work prints are same size as the enlargements I see no point doing 4R prints as there may be variation in paper batches. I find this works out cheaper - I see my tonal realtionships straight off rather than have to squint to see how they are in the 4R work print.How fast you work depends on how fast you can see the tones in the projected negatives and that is related to how consist your exposure and development is.
 

tucker

Member
Jul 13, 2002
431
0
16
singapore
www.flickr.com
student said:
The answer is in your post.

1 Do you need to have work prints of all your exposures?

2 Do you have to have 2 fixes and selenium toning etc for the work prints? Which are to be thrown away?
this is pretty much like Student said.

it's a shame to print everything blindly. from a B&W negative.
thing'll be easier if ya just shoot colour and convert.

frankly, things are not quite e same already.
 

kex

Senior Member
Oct 16, 2002
2,079
0
36
beebox
www.beebox.com.sg
U can get an automated processor to handle ur print developing after u expose the paper.

there are a Few Jobo options to look.
 

waileong

Deregistered
Feb 5, 2003
2,519
0
0
Visit site
pipefish said he scans the roll to find the good ones, I'm more basic than that, I put it on my lightbox and use a digicam in macro to take pix of the negs and invert/desaturate in photoshop-- that is my contact print. With that and my loupe to evaluate sharpness, I choose the negs to print.

Thanks all. I should clarify, when I say work prints, I don't mean just to see, I also mean to keep, and since I don't do darkroom every day, my 4R prints are as precious to me as my enlargements. Hence the two-bath + toning. Can't be printing everything I like (or everything my family and friends wants to see) into 8x10 or larger, or I'd be in debt by now.

For my recent studio shoot, the exposures were consistent (can't go wrong, since the f-stop and sync speed are already set using flash meter) so it's possible to just use the same timing for every neg, develop as a batch. However, normal shooting is different, and one roll can last me more than a week, consist of different pix under diff conditions, hence I find it more challenging to print quickly.

Would an enlarging meter help nail the exposure every time, so that I can do more batch exposing followed by batch processing?
 

maxonline

New Member
Sep 9, 2004
177
0
0
waileong said:
I find myself spending 4-5 hours at a stretch in the darkroom, but barely have 25 prints to show for it. This makes my productivity seem extremely low (5 prints per hour? 12 mins per print?). And this is without any dodging, burning, flashing or other fancy operations. Just straight work prints, trying to do a set of 4R prints from my roll. I know some people can spend hours over one print, dodging and burning until they get it right-- but this is different. When I want to do my 16x20, I can take hours or days-- but work prints should be faster, right?

Does anyone have tips on how to increase productivity?

I suppose it's possible to throw all the exposed paper into a paper safe and develop them in a batch, and thus save a little process time. But the problem is, without developing the prints after exposing, how will I know whether the exposure was right to begin with?

I'm using a long process that includes two fix + selenium toning + khca, so that takes a little longer. Chemical setup and cleanup prob takes up about 1/2 hour min, with the no of bottles and trays I have. Not much I can do about these fixed setup times, unless I change process, of course.

Does anyone have tips on how to increase productivity? It's not a subject much discussed in B&W forums anywhere.
Hi WAILEONG

u are working faster than me...sometime i spend 4 hrs w/o producing a satisfy print
 

moon

Member
Jun 12, 2002
288
1
18
53
Visit site
Using 4R RC paper, the timing is much shorter. Perhap you can increase the chemicals ratio SLIGHTLY to make it stronger and getting your prints quicker.

Alternatively you can have 2 enlarger to speed things up.

Hope it helps.
 

Status
Not open for further replies.