Originally Posted by Lauffray
This is an idea I've been thinking about for a while. I've been printing on my own for almost a year now and I've read some books and experimented and I feel I'm hitting a plateau in that area. I strongly believe in learning from others, not necessarily copying their methods but at least being exposed to other ways of doing/thinking, questioning and adapting those methods to my own.
Are there any experienced printers who wouldn't mind being shadowed as they work and bombarded with questions ? Preferably in town but maybe also NYC as I travel there quite often (or used to at least)
In art school back in the day (1970's), I learned that making good negatives was the easiest way to make good prints. I was trained to make negatives that had the proper contrast that could be straight printed on a straight grade number 2 paper after having nailed the principles of multigrade filters.
John who you know from the NYC Meet-Up also went to art school, but he was trained to print on a straight grade of 3.
I was also taught a lot of discipline about consistency with not only exposure, but time and temperature. The more control I got the more I learned, and this sped up my results. On top of that I would make go through a box of 8x10 in a weekend.
My negatives were very easy to print, not a lot of dodging and burning was required, and most times I just agitated locally the highlights when the print lay in the tray of developer if required. I got to a point were I did not have to make test strips and I could squint and stop down the enlarger lens to the correct F-stop for my exposure because my eye was trained to recognize the correct amount of light required. The idea in art school is learn how to make a good negative that you can just straight print, and then learn how to consistently repeat that process.
I just saved you about 4 years and tens of thousands of Loonies. John also one said, "The best tool is a trained eye." I was a good printer back then, but I think my eye has gotten better, and when I get back into the darkroom again I'm sure it will be like getting on a bicycle.
Although I don't shoot large format there's a lot to learn from those forums. Very technical, lots of information, and these shooters really care about IQ and printing big. In a way I tend to shoot like a large format photographer, even though I only shoot small and medium format. Also know that I've been printing digitally the output from my Monochrom for a year now, and the wet printing that developed my eye surely has helped make me a better digital printer.