Street Photography at CCAD: Part 2
Next up was making contact sheets. We have the option at CCAD to rent out a plain contact proof printer, or a negative-holding proof printer that the negs neatly mount in to. The latter, however, holds the negatives so that they are vertical, not horizontal on the portrait 9.5 by 12 inch paper. For a neater and easier-to-navigate negative folder, I opted to use a plain proof printer and line the negatives up horizontally by hand. This means, with the contact sheet stapled to the neg sleeve, the contacts line up with the negatives stored beneath them. It is obviously a standard method, but it was good to find it out for myself.
Arranging the negs on the paper - making sure they are lined up straight, facing the same way and in the correct order - can be tricky in the darkroom. Though, it does force me to slow down and do a good job of it - so as not to waste any of the pricey Ilford photographic paper used to print on.
In regards to wasting the paper, printing is sure-fire way to do it. Each photograph needs at least one test print to find the correct exposure. Even if every image on the roll was evenly exposed, each print would still need a different exposure time/enlarger lens aperture to look ‘right’. An image with a backlit subject, like my one above, is particularly hard. Finding the print settings that had the right balance between the highlights and shadows took me through two test prints and a failed attempt before getting it right - that’s four sheets for one photograph.
I am enjoying the process other than worrying about the amount of paper, and therefore money, being used. Working in the darkroom is refreshingly-new ground for me (I’ve spent a lot of time staring at a screen) and the facilities at CCAD seem excellent. I will surely miss the ingenious paper developing machine when I leave; it’s a huge convenience.
In conclusion: process wise, from shutter to print - I’m happy and learning well. My issues lie with my behaviour on the street and the images I’m trying to make, I’m overthinking. Though it may work for some, disregarding any thought during street photography will not work for me - I lack the spontaneity. I will try and find a balance for my last few rolls.