SETTING THE SCENE

This image is part of a series of abandoned farmhouses I am working on. The diffused morning light coming through the doorway of this old farmhouse revealed all the texture of the timber and gave the scene great depth and presence. I previsualized the final image as a square format print with some areas being allowed to drift into Zone 0. Using my Pentax Spot meter, I metered several areas before deciding where to place the important shadow details- exposure differential was approx. 5 stops, which indicated normal development.

EXPOSURE and DEVELOPMENT

As is my usual practice, I scoped the scene with my Sigma DP2 Merrill digital camera to get a “feel” for the final result much the same way as large format photographers used to make a Polaroid

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“Polaroid” taken with my Sigma DP2 Merrill digital camera

I then exposed a sheet of Fuji Acros 100 (rated at 80 asa) using my Toyo45a field camera and a 135 mm Schneider Symmar S lens – exposure was 30 secs at F22 with a little forward tilt to increase DOF. The negative was then processed in a Jobo 3006 tank (using manual rollers) in X-Tol 1:1 for 8 mins at 20%.

EDITING

The negative was then scanned at 1800 dpi as a raw negative on my Epson V700 scanner and taken into Photoshop. In Photoshop, I opened Color Perfect Plug in Filter and applied a Normal Grade 2 in Color Perfect Virtual Grades. Returning to Photoshop. I then cropped the image into a square format, cleaned up dust spots etc. and selectively applied deconvolution sharpening to the mid tones.This is considered the “stock” image.

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The stock image should be a little flat to give “wriggle room” to edits

To complete the edit, the image was darkened to increase the “mood” as I originally previsualized it, and the tonal range expanded by painting through a number of luminosity masks then finally making two curves adjustments. At this point I added a separate layer using the History Brush and a low opacity brush to make final adjustments to the image – e.g. the color dodge mode mimics how I used to use Potassium Ferricyanide in the wet darkroom by lightening light areas and increasing the presence of the final print. The file was flattened for printing. Even though my dedicated NEC PA series monitors are carefully calibrated to produce a very close screen to print result, I also made a step wedge (aka the wet darkroom) to fine tune the final print.

PRINTING

I only print on one paper – Museo Silver Rag as it is far superior to any other black and white inkjet paper on the market. If this paper wasn’t available, I would most likely return to the wet darkroom. This heavyweight Fine Art paper has a smooth lustre finish and produces deep blacks and a tonal range that both Les Walkling and I think make it indistinguishable from my much loved Agfa Portriga Rapid.

Using a Les Walkling custom warm ICC profile and my Epson 3880 in Advanced Black and White mode ,the final 16 by 16 inch print is produced .

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Final print emerging from my Epson 3880 printer

The print was then left to dry for 24 hours – inkjet prints made on 100% cotton paper need this time to “cure” as minor changes will occur. I re- examined the print after 24 hours and was not entirely happy with the shadow detail – they appeared to have darkened fractionally. I returned to Photoshop and opened up the shadow detail a fraction and a new print with this adjustment.

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The two prints compared – the one on the right will be framed

Later this week the print will be T- hinged onto archival heavyweight backing board, a 50 mm off white “Palm Beach White” matte cut and T hinged onto the backing board before placing the completed photograph behind True Vue glass in a 40 mm matte black frame.

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