Silver Gelatin Printing?

My Silver Gelatine Printing Process

My work bench with enlarger, saunder easel, rolls of unprocessed film, and some 5x4 inch contact sheets, the wall behind is decorated with an assortment of prints postcards and other ephemera. The head of the enlargr is raise showing the cool soft blue light of my Zone VI enlarger head.
My work bench with enlarger, Saunders easel, rolls of unprocessed film, and some 5×4 inch contact sheets.

Here’s my process for making a print on silver gelatine paper. Printing on silver gelatine paper is rewarding and relaxing. It is not cheap however, so my process aims to tease as much detail as I can out of test strips before commiting to a full sheet of 8 x 10 inch silver gelatin paper. It is the ultimate way to relax, if I am  not printing to a dealine, ie and exhibtion.

Process the film.

Two rolls of 120 format film hanging inside a drying cabinet
Two rolls of 120 format film hanging inside a drying cabinet

Dry it and cut into strips.

Two rolls of 120 format film, ready to be cut and sleeved, along with gloves a penci and 2 sleeves, with 2 strips to labelthe sleeves
Two rolls of 120 format film, ready to be cut and sleeved

Set up the sink.

With Developer, Stop Bath, Fixer One.

The first stage of prnt processing, using onlly Developer, stop bath and fixer in my grey sink with tongs in each tray. A white tray for developer a grey one for stop bath and a red one for fixer
The first stage of prnt processing, using onlly Developer, stop bath and fixer.

Make a contact sheet to edge black.

Edge black is the pont where the edge of the film disaapears.  So I start by making a test wedge usually of 3 second bursts. After the stop bath, and fixer a quick rinse. Turn on the lights and look for the time that the edge of the film no longer shows, that is my time for the whole contact sheet. This has 2 disinct technical advantages. I can assess my exposures and development of the film. Noting any deviations that may be needed at the enlarging stage.

A test strip of a proof sheet floating in the rinse water the tray is a modifed print procssing tray with grey tubes feeding water in and holes drilled along the edges to allow water to escape
A test strip for a proof sheet floating in the rinse water

Process the paper, Devloper 2 minutes, Stop 30 seconds, Fix 2 minutes.

Wash the final outcome for 10 minutes.

Dry and anotate, file away.

My filing sytem, showing a box labelled with dates anbd film format and 2 rolls of film with their numbers annotated inclding processing dates and sequencial number.
My filing sytem, showing a box labelled with dates anbd film format and 2 rolls of film with their numbers annotated inclding processing dates and sequencial number.

Choose a negative to print.

Peruse my contacts, and choose a negative. Either form my archive or from the current contact sheet I’m working on.

Set up ealarger making sure the negative is in focus, sometimes, I shoot out focus on purpose.

A Saunders easel with the other tool I use in the darkroom, a Peak Focus finder, a set of Ilford multigrade filters and an anti-static brush.
A Saunders easel with the other tool I use in the darkroom, a Peak Focus finder, a set of Ilford multigrade filters and an anti-static brush.

Print

Expose for the highlights and change filters for the shadows, or split filter, mostly split filter these days. Test until I’m happy with the outcome, this may mean some extra burning and dodging to acheive a ‘balanced’ print.

Other tools used in the darkroom, an opaque board to mask off areas of test strips and prints, glass to hold negatives flat while making a cotact sheet, multicontrast filters, anti-static bruch and top left my notebooks for taking notes as I work.
Other tools used in the darkroom.

Process

Process the paper, Devloper 2 minutes, Stop 30 seconds, Fixer one, 2 minutes.

Rinse.

Print processing, using onlly Developer, stop bath and fixer in my grey sink with tongs in each tray. A white tray for developer a grey one for stop bath and a red one for fixer.

Fixer two, 2 minutes, Hypo Clearing Agent, 3 minutes, and archivally wash [10 minutes for resin coated papers, 60 minutes for museum quality fibre based paper].

Dry, & flatten

Mount if I am exhibitig the work framed.


About the author.

Stuart Murdoch is an Artist and Part time Photo Educator, with over 30 years of teaching experience. He has also nearly 40 years of silver gelatin printing under his belt. He contemplates many things photographic. His ruminations include his own work as well other’s and the aspects of technology that impact on the sharing and consumption of Photographs. And of course the act of making and taking photographs in the 21st century. Photobooks sit quite high on his radar too these days.
☛ Website | Flickr | Instagram | Photography links | s2z digital garden | Tumblr | leave a tip, or buy a print

New Group Show ‘Sheet’ at XYZ Photogallery

I currently have some work exhibited at XYZphotogallery.

The show entitled ‘Sheet’ is a collection of work by photographers who use sheet film to make images.

XYZPhotogallery is open Winter time (standard) Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Sunday 1:00-5:00pm  (last entry) and is at 312/757 Bourke St Docklands 3008 Vic [Entry on Batmans Hill Drive


Other exhibiting Artists include:-

  • Zo Damage
  • David Patterson
  • Hody Hong
  • Ali Choudhry
  • Andrew Green
  • Mark Darragh
  • Ellie Young
  • Lachan Fysh,
  • Kurt Baldonado
  • Avner Ben-Arieh
  • Kevin Xue
  • Shea Kirk,
  • Mat Hughes
  • Keria Hudson
  • Charles Li
  • Garrie Maguire

About the author.
Stuart Murdoch is an Artist and Part time Photo Educator, with over 30 years of teaching experience. He contemplates many things photographic. His ruminations include his own work as well other’s and the aspects of technology that impact on the sharing and consumption of Photographs.
☛ Website | Flickr | Instagram | Photography links | s2z digital garden | Tumblr