I have been busy on lots of fronts of late, but especially with teaching, as it the start of the academic year. My Pebble Project is in full swing, and it too has taken no modest amount of time, demanding my concentration and discipline.
So it is easy for me to forget that some of the best pleasures in doing photography are simple ones. A little time in the darkroom the other day served as a reminder.
Despite some reservations, I went ahead and printed a somewhat underexposed negative taken with my Yashica Mat G medium format camera and Ilford FP4+ film. The image is inescapably dark, so I went along with this, hoping to stay just the right side of 'meh, too dark'. The negative is indeed thin, but is it nevertheless amazing how much detail still resides in even the thinnest of areas.
In a case such as this, one's printing choices are narrowed and fine margins become all-important. My first print was too dark and lacked contrast. Still, I could see that the image struck up a relationship with the paper and its pearly, pitted surface, so I pressed on. I went up by about half a grade, and reduced my exposure. The tonality was now much more open and the image remained suitably dark, but gained much more of a sense of the light beyond. I finished the print with a gentle vignette, maybe heavier than my usual, and dodged the flowers a little to lift the lightest tones and draw the eye to the melancholy memorial.
An hour's printing with this forgiving, flexible and tactile medium that is darkroom.