This week while avoiding the annual business tax preparation for the accountant I proved something I already knew, analog photography is not necessarily the "slow" process most people think it is. I have been for the last year or so been working on my project Last Days of Summer,
---4x5 silver gelatin contact prints inspired by watching natures continuous cycle of death and rejuvenation from my thousands of miles spent on my bike each season. This series, documents natures transition from lush green, to pale earth tones which fulfills the seasonal cycle ensuring life will move on.---
and collected this dead sunflower this fall with intention of shooting it. As the fall turned into winter and time slipped away until Monday of this week, when I grabbed the sunflower and started the shoot. I continued with the same set up as every other plant in the series, first set up, shoot and then process the film. After pulling the 4x5 film from the final wash before drying I checked it out against a light to make sure everything was good and there were not issues from development.
After the film is dry and put in archival sleeves I then take a cell phone picture of the negative on the light box. I can then make a quick inversion on lightroom mobile app so I can have a quick down and dirty contact print of the image of how it will look printed.
So now the following day after doing some office work, I headed down to the darkroom to make my final prints. This series are all contact prints, this is where you lay the physical piece of film directly onto the fiber based paper for the final print. Here I am using Ilfords warm tone multi-grade glossy fiber base paper in 8x10" size. I preform a series of test to determine the proper time of exposure as well as contrast that will create the final image along with any dodging or burning needed. In this case the actual flower head itself needed about 20% less exposure then the rest of the print.
Once that was settled I always make a series of two or three identical prints so I always have copies of each.
After I am satisfied with my prints they are then put into a archival washer for one hour to ensure all chemicals are flushed from the prints making the images able to last for well over 100 years in any light source with out fading. Once that is done they are hung to dry over night and ready for the final steps of flattening. To flatten is use dry mount press for 2 mins at 200 degrees fahrenheit, a dry mount press is just a gigantic heated press that applies pressure while set at a temperature of your choice. From there all I have to do is spot and sign the print and its ready. So all in all the whole process was from start to finish less then 3 days, not bad at all if I say so myself.
please visit the gallery to so all the images from the series as well as the print store where the original silver gelatin prints are for sale.