First contact (prints, for this year)…

New year’s resolutions are rubbish, but “things to do” and an ever-expanding list of projects – that’s more my go! And so this year begins with fresh resolve to stop scanning negatives because I’m too lazy/busy to make proper contact prints, that I can hole-punch and stick in the dark green folder with the corresponding sheet of negatives, for easily looking through at any time without the aid of a lightbox or anything!

I’m quite pleased with myself, that, even in the middle of an entire week of festivities devoted to a significant birthday (family gave me a BBQ, and now I’ve discovered my inner, BBQ-obsessed man), I managed to allocate an evening to work my way through all 14 pages of negatives from the year so far (mainly the Mallacoota camping trip – here’s one such sheet for illustrative purposes).
It’s all about reminding myself that I can get soooo much more satisfaction from doing things manually – I can scribble on contact prints, and look at them without electricity. It is as relaxing as staring at a book. Also, they become a handy reference point for later-on proper darkroom printing: If I make all my contact prints at paper-grade 2.5, at moreorless the same exposure – then when I decide to make a decent 8×10″ or other print from the neg – I can think “well, that needs a bit less contrast”, or “that neg is a bit thin – I will need a longer enlarger exposure” before actually doing anything. I can do all that necessary thinking over a cup of tea and a biscuit, and actually “plan” ahead!! Oh, the wonder…
The trick will be (much like this blog), to actually sustain this throughout the year.

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2 thoughts on “First contact (prints, for this year)…

  1. Hello Marc,

    Currently, I am too in the contact-printing trip, I have a big bunch of negative to print, the oldest dating back May 2010 !

    IMHO, I find it’s more painful to digitally make contact-sheets (from medium format negatives) than with the analog way, even counting the darkroom setup/cleaning time. At least with my Epson 4990 flatbed scanner.

    You wrote you use moreorless the same exposure for contacting, so I presume you are using always the same type of negative ?

    In effect, it’s one thing I find painful when making analogic contacts sheets, I have to guess the right exposure time to get a correctly readable prints.

    Thanks again for your blog,

    Regards,

    Raphael

    1. Hi Raphael,

      We are in agreement!! I mostly use Kodak Plus-x, but even so, I typically expose contact sheets the same no matter what the film (ie, enough exposure so the base paper is a rich black), because it gives me then a good idea of the density of the negative, even when I’ve exposed or processed the film poorly!!!! It’s a “system” that makes some contact prints look terrible, but gives me a good starting point when I make an actual print…

      Cheerio, Marc!

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