Saturday Night: The Story Behind the Print

When it was time to develop the roll of Ilford Delta 3200 film I used to make this image, like Toros Lab - which develops my Delta 3200 while I'm Paris - I used straight D-76. Why Kodak D-76 and not Microphen? For consistency in the negative, and when printing.

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       Indeed, when I placed a sheet of traditional silver paper in the easel, the same overall exposure time I used for Paris: The Art of Living - also made on Delta 3200 and 

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developed in straight D-76 - provided a good first print. How did I remember how many seconds to expose the paper? 

By keeping a notebook in the darkroom and writing the time, contrast grade filtration, and f-stop for each paper size. What's contrast grade filtration? Instead of having to buy different contrast grades of paper, manufacturers make multigrade paper, and we use filters to change the contrast of the paper. Average scenes are printed at grade two, with grade zero being used to print more contrasty scenes, and grade five being used to print flatter scenes.  

Once I have a working print, I examine it for overly bright areas that need to be burned in, like the lights hanging from the roof at Eddie's Grill, and the illuminated walls of La Brasserie de l'Île Saint-Louis. What's burning in? I used my hands to shield everything but the lights, and give the lights extra time at a contrast grade of zero. 

For darker areas or faces, I may "dodge" those areas by waving a wand or holding my hand over them, allowing more detail shadowy areas., and keeping faces from printing too dark. 

Why do we have to dodge and burn in when printing on silver paper? Our eyes correct for most bright and dark areas, but film does not. So printers employ dodging and burning in to make our prints accurately render the scene. 

Finally, to bring out the blacks in these film noir images, I "flash" the paper for a couple of seconds with light from the enlarger at grade five contrast. 

To watch a short video that shows how I dodged and burned in the print of Paris: The Art of Living, please click the arrow below. 

         Thanks for watching.

Elizabeth Avedon selected Saturday Night for inclusion in the juried exhibit: black + white at ASmith Gallery in Johnson City, Texas, The exhibit, which runs through September 10, 2017, includes a framed 11 x 14 print of Saturday Night

Photos © 2007 and 2015 Bob Soltys All Rights Reserved