Making Larger Darkroom Prints

I made a handfull of 11″ x 14″ darkroom prints last night. Bigger prints are cool, but I never know what to do with them.

Mostly, I print at 5×7. The smaller paper is relatively inexpensive so I don’t freak out every time I waste a sheet (and I waste a lot of sheets). Smaller prints are easy to handle, display, and store.

Still, big prints are fun. I’ve got about 100 sheets sitting in the freezer so I might as well use them up.

I have got to get this contraption fully functional. It’ll do 35mm but not 120.

Focomat IIc. (Nikon F3. T-MAX P3200 @3200. HC-110)

Print Sizes

I’ve been trying to determine which print sizes I prefer. In the darkroom I usually print 8×10, mostly because it’s the largest convenient size. Lately I’ve been making quite a few 5×7 prints and I’m finding I prefer them to the 8x10s. An 8×10 photo is just a little too big to hold, and just a little too small to hang.

I’ve also made a few 13×19″ digital prints and it made me realize that for hanging, bigger is better.

So, for now I’m going to stick with 5x7s for everything except the prints I intend to hang. For those, I’ll go as big as possible.

In a Dark Room

I have a darkroom. This has happened before.

The Beseler 23C II I’m using – from 1981

My first darkroom was in what my grandma called the “fruit cellar” of my old house. It was a small, musty place full of pipes lined with asbestos. I hated it, and printed maybe a total of 20 8×10 photos there. Eventually just gave everything away. But that was a long time ago, and I’ve mostly forgotten how awful it was. So, I built another.

My new darkroom is still in a basement, but for some reason this time it’s a lot more fun. I have no problem spending hours at a time in the dark, making not-very-good prints with cheap, 30 year old equipment. It’s like magic. Maybe it helps just knowing I can opt out, grab an inkjet and make prints the easy way like everyone else.

If it was easy, anyone could do it. I’m going to keep doing it the hard way for a while.