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Thread: How many sheets of paper does it take you to get your first keeper-print?

  1. #31

    Join Date
    Jan 2019

    Re: How many sheets of paper does it take you to get your first keeper-print?

    I have both an RHDesigns Zonemaster meter and a Darkroom Automation meter. The Zonemaster gets me super close. Usually one test strip to verify and often the first print is pretty good. Second print is right there. I use the DA meter for density measurements to compare different sections of the neg, skies for example, then I can figure dodging and burning if I need it. Makes the whole process super simple factoring in experience of course. I used to figure about an hour to get to a good print. Now I can do it sometimes in 20 minutes. The meters save not only time, but loads of paper as well.

  2. #32

    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    New Jersey

    Re: How many sheets of paper does it take you to get your first keeper-print?

    If I'm going to hang it on the wall, 4-6 sheets to get the keeper, and then at least one extra for the file. I can usually get to a decent print in one or two tries, but as soon as the "perfectionist" kicks in with burning and dodging, it becomes an iterative process.

  3. #33

    Join Date
    Sep 1998
    Oregon now (formerly Austria)

    Re: How many sheets of paper does it take you to get your first keeper-print?

    I've been keeping track of just this the last few printing sessions. I average out about 60-65% waste. But, since I make two or three keepers (especially of difficult prints), the actual percentage of waste before I get to the "keeper" stage is probably more like 75%. In other words, three full sheets plus a test strip or two to get a print I deem worthy of keeping. Some prints get there faster than others.

    Most important for me is to have a clear idea of what I want to express and how I want tonalities in the print to relate to each other before I get started. It's awful hard to decide on a base exposure and find a contrast setting without any idea of how those things should look.

    Often, like Bob and others, I'll make several prints close to one another, hang them on the white board from clips and let them dry down. Then I'll spend time evaluating before trying another or deciding that my performance of the negative was good enough to save the print from the trash can.

    FWIW, I don't focus on "perfection," per se, but rather, like a musician, a technically and aesthetically moving performance of the negative. As my understanding and awareness grow and mature, so do my performances. Sometimes a youthful, naive interpretation works well; sometimes the mature artist is needed to plumb the depths of an image.

    I keep careful notes about exposure and manipulations, but only use that as a starting point when reprinting an image. Sometimes I want to reproduce what I did in the past, especially if it has been successful, but other times I want to do something very different.



  4. #34

    Join Date
    Dec 2022

    Re: How many sheets of paper does it take you to get your first keeper-print?

    Thanks for the replies!
    In the 80s and 90s I was a newspaper photographer in Santa Fe with a Royalprint machine in the darkroom at the paper and all the Polycontrast RCII I wanted. Life was GOOD! It seems like we used to run through 5 or 6 sheets back then to get a good print for reproduction, but we were picky. I also had a full B&W darkroom at my house where we used to make tray prints when the need arose. It was all Gallery back then.
    Now, almost 30 years later, I’m back in the darkroom. The Museum of New Mexico wants my negatives and I'm making prints for them. It took me a 100-sheet box of paper to get back in the swing of things and then 150 sheets to get 30 keepers (8x10s) and it just seemed like that was a lot, but now that I read your comments, I am encouraged. This work represents the last of the analog age and I want to leave the Museum with prints at least as good as the ones we were making back then…. But more permanent. I’m printing Ilford MGFB.
    At the newspaper we always shot for the shadows because the highlites would never be brighter than the paper the newspaper was printed on. We rarely pulled the development to compensate. So now I’m burning and dodging some ‘healthy’ negatives so after I have the exposure I still need a couple more full sheets under the enlarger just to figure out how to get it right in all the areas. I snip a corner off all the prints I dont think I want to keep. I do this in the wash.
    I’ve been scanning’ images first and I find that helps with visualizing the dodging and burning, especially when you work with layers for highlites and shadows.
    Even when I record and map my settings, when I reprint that image I often like the 'newer' one better.
    Those ‘next morning eyes’, looking at prints in full sunlight, are important, but Clyde Butcher told me, when I started this project, 'you should view your final print in the same lighting it is going to be exhibited in'.
    Thx again!

  5. #35
    Paul Ron's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004

    Re: How many sheets of paper does it take you to get your first keeper-print?

    good luck and hope to get to see your work in the museum one day.

  6. #36
    Gary L. Quay's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Fairview, OR

    Re: How many sheets of paper does it take you to get your first keeper-print?

    It depends on the quality of the negative. I ran through 5 sheets of paper this week before settling on a burning and dodging pattern. There was some flare in the upper corner that made it difficult.

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