As I mentioned in my last post, I booked and have now attended a course to learn how to print my own colour photos via a darkroom. Best 5 hours ever!
It’s a shame I don’t have a colour darkroom of my own, this course has made me want one with a flaming passion. When you see your print appear form the processor, it is for all the world like a magical miracle has happened before your very eyes. As soon as my first test strip slid out of that aforementioned magical slot, I was absolutely hooked :D
For anyone who has done any B&W darkroom printing, Colour really isn’t that much harder, you just have to know your way around your darkroom a bit more, and not be afraid of the dark. Much of the work can be done in the light, its only when you focus, test and expose the print that the lights need to be out. As soon as the prints in the machine the light can go on again if you want. The hardest bit is the chemicals, they are very picky about temperature and time, and it is far easier to have a mechanical processor. Even so, you do have to be watchful of the machines, as the developer needs to be replenished constantly, and the temp must not alter more than 1 degree.
Now I only produced about one print per hour, which isn’t bad, considering that it takes about 5 mins for the test strip or print to go though the processor alone. The test strip procedure is more complicated in that you have to test for both density and colour cast. With colour enlargers you have Cyan, Magenta and Yellow filters that you need to use to gain the correct colour cast. We generally started by dialling 0-cyan 40-magenta and 40-yellow for the first test print, then you could work out what you needed to do from there. Depending on the paper and film you use, you can set different starting settings. We always did 5 second burst on the test strips to start off with, the guy teaching told us that the colour enlargers like 8 seconds or more to get a proper colour rendition, so having very quick exposure times is a no-no, because the colours will be off.
My first print, to learn about the removal of colour cast is this one. Its a photo taken by my dad about 18 years ago, on his zenit SLR. I used this one because of all the negs I had on the day, it was the most normally/neutrally coloured.
You can see the process of removing the colour cast well from these tests and prints. It seems odd that you have to put more of the colour in that you want to remove, but thats the way it works.
I definitely recommend printing up your own colour negatives if you can, the process has so much scope to it. We didn’t even get into dodging/burning or masking on this day, gah! so much I want to do. Now I just need to book more darkroom time so I can get all the prints for my upcoming open studio exhibition done.