printing technique

I am not going to delve into film exposure and development in this section because Ansel Adams covered the subject very well in his book, The Negative. I will say that I use a modified version of the zone system that I call the tone system. The tone system allows me to consider the highlight values, the shadow values, then place them with feeling, adding an emotional dimension to the exposure process.

It is very good to know how to get a good negative, but a good negative can make a lousy print without the proper skills, which is why the technique section is focused on the final print.

I chose the six images to the right as examples because they each have their own unique way of revealing what the camera recorded (objective) and how I arrived at the what I experienced (subjective) while exposing the scene. For the top three I have included detailed printing information, such as contrast(s), burning and dodging. For the bottom three I have included the straight print, finished darkroom print and the final retouched photograph.

All images print differently, each with a certain voice. Sometimes what I feel will be an easy print ends up taking hours and hours to hone into the right balance of tonality, the proper luminousity. Other images that seem likely to be difficult fall into place rather quickly.

I'll always be a student of printing, learning from every print I make. With each photograph, there is a new solution to achieve the final result, to find the balance between the objective negative and the subjective mind.