Week-18-Project Development.

FMP-Book Prints.

This week have been working on printing images for my book. I will be hand printing 12 images into 5×7 prints.  Used my time on the refresher printing course at the Labs at Santa Monica College to do this.

SMC neg prep area and print washing and drying, final week.  Photo by: Pierre Chemaly

This was week 6 and the last day of the printing refresher. I completed the series yesterday for the book. (3 weeks work) at SMC on Sundays.  I use the facilities there to get equipment I do not have in my own dark room, plus it’s nice to get feedback from other printers, regarding my prints. I take them home let them dry overnight, then rewash and dry on my dryer at home.

I did the work in Ilford paper, and really like the look. So of course, I’m going to print my FMP on Ilford all the way It seems that the contrast and the very deep blacks of the images lend themselves well to the  look of the images, so I will be printing the series for my exhibition on the Ilford Fiber Base paper.  This printing refresher every week as well as my own darkroom work has been very beneficial to my printing. I have finally achieved the level of making a print, that I feel is on the level of any professional or professional printer.

I had the opportunity to use the Macbeth Densitometer TD-504 to do density readings on my negs to see that they are in range from clear base to max density. I like to keep my highlights and shadows well within range, so I overexpose the negative and under develop it to give a slightly lower density of the highlights with good shadow detail as this helps printing in the darkroom, that way I can keep my printing lights somewhat consistent.

So far it has been working well, and my exposures and development of my negs are just where I like them to be. The D-Max is 2.10 (TEST STRIP) Actual on meter reads 2.12, so it’s accurate to 1/200th, close enough for me, plus the test strip may not be new. My max destiny on my negs were around 1.30-1.40, Just where I like it, and compensate for density with the VC filters to increase the required contrast.

Clibration test on the Macbeth TD-504 Densitometer. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly
Kodak B&W test strip 6017 in the Macbeth Densitometer. My negs on the left.  Photo by: Pierre Chemaly










Home Darkroom Printing:

At the home darkroom I have printed some of my final images, 11×14. I have finally decided to go back to Ilford Fibre Base, so a lot of them will be reprinted. I have also changed the stop bath to a citric base from the ascetic base, less smell and less irritation for me. I have added a fresh air vent to my darkroom so this has made a huge difference.  This week I will be printing all the images for my Pop_UP exhibition on November the 14th at the Hollywood Sculpture Garden.


5×7 Dry with curl. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly

Finishing 5×7’s at home.

The prints were brought back from SMC, I allowed to dry, of course the fibre paper curl set in. So I resoaked in filtered water, sometimes I use distilled, give it a good soak and rinse, squeegee, and dry on my dryer.

I made 18 prints over the past three weeks.  These are for the book. I will use them also to do the final edit for my pop-up exhibit, it will be nice to see the prints on ilford paper in a smaller size and then get my series together, better than looking at cheap paper prints which I have done before.

5×7’s soaked in filtered water/sometimes distilled. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly
Squeegeed after the soak,ready for drying. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly







Above the prints soaking in filtered water, it also serves as a final wash. The water where I live is very hard, even though it aids in removing the hypo, it can leave mineral on the surface of the print (even though, I have never experienced any residue) once the print has dried. However, as I am going for longevity of the print, I archival was, use hypo clear, do the residual hypo check, and not I will do the residual silver check to make sure the prints are properly fixed. I do a 2 bath fix for a minute each. The test is done with Sodium Sulphite, 2 dropped on the print and if there is a change in the image, there is resiual silver and it’s not fixed enough. I found some Sodium Sulphite at Sammy’s camera last week. I bought some paper there as Freestyle Photo was out of stock. As a result of that, I saved $10 on the paper, it was cheaper, so I guess I will buy there from now on, and I found a small bottle of sodium sulphite.

I was going to order it from the Photographers Formulary, but found out it has to ship via UPS or Fedex instead of USPS (some safety reasons) but this added $22 dollars to the shipping, plus a weeks wait. I would have bought it, but luckily a bottle was available at Sammy’s so overall I saved over $30, so as I was close by to Canters my favorite Deli, went for lunch and did some reading/research of my new book: “The Photograph as Contemporary Art.”




B+W Analysing Process: https://www.paulwainwrightphotography.com/biblio_files/silver_conf_a.pdf


Week-14-Project Development.

This week I am concentrating on printing. I have signed for a printing class at Santa Monica College. A two year junior college  with classes and comminity education.

Santa Monica College Photo Arts Building (Drescher Hall) Photo by: Pierre Chemaly
SMC Campus. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly

Ed Mengus offers the ‘Printing Refresher’ class (community ed)  this allows me the use of the darkroom facilities at the college on Sunday’s from 1pm to 6pm. The darkroom is very big, and everything is provided, except the paper.

Santa Monica College Darkroom. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly
SMC. Light tables, print washing and drying area. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly






There are only 10 of us, so it’s easy to work. The chemicals are mixed and ready to go, the print washer is set up, and Ed Mengus (who is a very good printer)+photographer, is there if any questions arise.  The class began Saturday Sept 8th and runs for 6 weeks.  I will attend these darkroom classes and test print my images.  The added advantage is, arriving early and going down to the beach for breakfast and mentally relaxing before the 5 hr printing session begins.

This week at SMC I experimented with sloppy borders, where an oversized negative carrier is used, and I can print a black border around my images. I like the look of the black border, so I will keep this look for my FMP. [The curvature of the print is its natural curl that fibre paper takes one once dried, when dry mounted or matted it will lay flat.]

Black Border/Tone Test test at SMC. Photo by Pierre Chemaly©

Also did exposure/tone tests for the print. This one is what the final will look like, this is the same image made in my mural workshop (40″ x60) and will be part of the series.  It’s a split grade print. #0 for 14 seconds; #5, for 8seconds. I get what I am looking for pure black, no detail (Zone 0) pure white, no detail, (Zone 10) and a good range of gray’s whites and blacks with deatail.  This image is part of the series “Fences”  Titled: Passing Black Square. Connotes shifting past the difficulties we experience as artists when making work, one of the fences that have to be crossed.

I will be doing all the final prints in my own darkroom at home, however, I discovered that I am not well ventilated in my small converted extra bathroom. NOTE: To fellow individuals who make their own darkrooms at home be very aware that the darkroom must be well ventilated. Mine is not, and I started to get eye irritations and coughing, fortunately this ventilation article came up and I looked into to it more.  Many college and professional darkroom are not correctly ventilated either;  the exhaust is in the ceiling and the fresh air supply on the floor. This causes the chemical fumes to move upwards past nose and thus breath it in, see below Fig 5.

Incorrect darkroom venting: Drawings courtesy of: sebastiandarkroom.com

The correct way to vent, it to have the supply up high, and the exhaust down low, (see vent hood method Fig.6 below)  the exhaust is thus below the nose. The fresh air comes in from above, and the gasses as pulled down and exhausted through the vent tube.

I researched darkroom venting and found this article:  ANYONE STARTING THEIR OWN DARKROOM, or ALREADY HAS ONE; PLEASE READ AND TAKE NOTE below.


Almost all darkrooms I saw on the net are incorectely vented (ie, exhaust is above the nose level)  and sabastian darkroom shows how to do it the right way.


I am set on using fibre base paper and printing on Fomabrom 112 11×14. I have been testing for residual hypo in the prints for any remains of fixer, and to my dismay, I am finding print discoloration where I have applied the residual hypo check.  Foma recommends 35 minute wash, Ilford recommends a 5 min wash, 5 min in hypo clear bath, then a further 10min wash.

Risidual Hypo Check. Photo courtesy of Freestyle Photo.

I have washed the papers for over an hour and still find discoloration where I have applied the residual hypo check.  This check is made by Photographers Formulary, and I did call to find out some more information, however the formulator was not in to day, and I will call back tomorrow.

I did spend money and bought an archival washer for my 11×14’s, it will arrive next week, so hopefully I will be able to use the washer and re-test to see if 35 minutes in the archival washer will solve the problem. I have been using a tray washer, which seems to function well, but I can only do one print at a time, and even after a long wash the stain was a dark yellow, indicating fixer in the paper.

Arkay Print Washer. 11×14. Photo courtesy of Joshua Cohen.


I am glad I have decided to print my show for the FMP. I’m old Bauhaus, so materials and hands on is very important to me. Could easily have it printed by a lab, and I know some of the best in Los Angeles 1. Weldon, 2. Bowhaus (not same as Bauhaus Weimar, but I’m sure inspired)  In addition, I am going to frame them myself.  This way I can go from idea, all the way to the finished product, as opposed to handing my ideas over and have it completed by someone else. They may not be as good as when the pro’s do it, however an old bibical proverb comes to mind that I love and apply to my own life: “Better your own house made of planks, than a lavish faire, in the house of another.”

This week I have been researching archival printing. As I will be making my own prints for the FMP they need to be archival. Archival means fixed and washed so that the image will not fade and discolor for at least a 100 years. I decided to test one of my prints and bought the Photographers Formulary kit to check residual fixer in the washed print. To my dismay the test spot/run turned yellow even after 40 mintes of washing. (This was the tray method) print lowered into tray, and water exchanged every 10 minutes for a total of 4 changes over 40 minutes. As can be seen the stain is still present after 40 minutes.

Residual Hypo Test. 10, 20, 30, 40min Photo by: Pierre Chemaly

When my archival print washer comes in, I will do tests recommended by Ilford:



At the recommendation of a fellow printer at SMC, I became a member of  PAC LA (Photographic Arts Council of Los Angeles) They foster the appreciation of the photographic arts.  The offer  Artists Talks, Gallery Visits, and Curated Walkthroughs of Museum Exhibitions.

I joined just in time for a tour of Bauhaus Beginnings at the Getty Museum. Being a huge proponent of Bauhaus, I am going to attend. They have the exhibit at the Getty. I have been already, however it will be interesting to hear the talk by Johnny Tran.

Image courtesy of PAC LA.

This is co-incidental with the opening of the Bauhaus Museum on Sunday the 8th in Dessau Germany (Bauhaus 100 years).











Follow up on Hypo Residual Stains: I got a call back from Bud the owner of Photographers Formulary and explained the stain situation. He mentioned to follow the test as described. Wash the print, Squeegee dry it. Drop two drops of the Hypo Residual formula on the test area. Leave for exactly two minutes and look at the color. If the stain is very light or non existant, the wash is good.

I let the drops run down to form a tail, and looked at it out in the sunlight.  According to Bud, the chemical will turn yellow when exposed to the sun. My archival print washer arrived today. I will pick it up in the morning.  I will was as recommended then run the test again as recommended by Bud and see what happens. I think it will be fine. I was taking out and inspecting in the sun and as he said will cause it to stain.





PACLA: https://pac-la.squarespace.com

Bauhaus Dessau: https://www.bauhaus100.com

Week-11-Project Development


Workshop parking lot. Very creative building. Downtown Los Angeles. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly

Today was the first day of Mural Printing Workshop. The photo lab is very well laid out. The wet and dry areas are separate. In the first room the paper is cut and hung on the wall, and kept in place with magnets. (see Fig 1A. below)

Fig. 1 Dry room, paper cutting an printing, Beseler 45MXT Photo by: Pierre Chemaly

The enlarger is a Beseler 45MXT (4×5) Fig. 3 below with the head tilted through 90 degrees to expose the negative onto the wall. (as seen Fig.1 above)

Fig. 3  Beseler 45MXT Photo by: Pierre Chemaly

I loaded the LVT negative in the negative carrier, and exposed a test strip 1 ft wide x 40″ long.  Gave six test strip exposures at f8 at 20/40/60/80/100 seconds. I chose an exposure of f8 at 45 seconds then made a second test print strip 1ft wide x 40″ long at the chosen 45 seconds selected with a #2 contrast filter. The single exposure at 45seconds looked very good. Very good highlights (Zone IX) perfect blacks (Zone 0) and the midtones where very nicely graded from light to dark gray.

The full print was made at the chosen exposure, then developed for 2.5 minutes by rolling the the paper back and fourth in a large tray 42″ x 30″  then put in stop bath for 6 rolls back and forth then fixed for 5 minutes by rolling the paper back and forth in the fixer. The print was washed for 10 minutes, squeegee dried (Fig.4 below)  then  laid on a big window screen to dry.

Fig.2 Pierre Chemaly and Andrew Hall the owner of The School of Light. Andrew graduated Exeter University, in 1984. Same year I graduated Cal Arts. Darkroom with large trays. (develop, stop, fix, and the washing tray behind Andrew in the steel sink)  4 gallons of developer and fixer in plastic kegs)

I am very happy to see such a large print, the focus is excellent, the tonal range is perfect. I did want to burn the corners, as I normally do with all my prints, however did not do this on the large print, and the fall off at two of the corners is substantial.

‘Passing the Shadow’ Fig.4 My 40″x 60″ on the squeegee table.(plexiglass on sheet of plywood, on two saw horses)  Note fall off at bottom right and top right corners. Photo by: Pierre Chemaly ©

As there are 3 other people in the workshop, so I may not be able to re-print the first image. I do have another one I will print tomorrow, and if there is time, I will ask for a reprint of the first negative, if I cannot, I will attempt to correct the areas with Marshall’s spotting ink.  I will attempt a glaze (an oil painting technique) starting with very light gray and build it up until it matches the midtones, then keep going, building the layer densities until it matches the shadow regions in the corner.

Over all, very good experience to-day [8 on the happiness/satisfaction scale on the first print]  Will see if I can improve the second to-morrow, and hopefully reprint the first. I would like to have two mural prints for my FMP, and quite surprisingly, I like the RC paper for large prints far more than I do for small prints. It looks far nicer in the mural form. I learned from this workshop that RC paper is a better choice for murals than fibre. It’s tougher, more scratch resistant, cheaper, looks surprisingly good, needs less washing time and dries flat.

I created  these two images this module, so I will use them for my exhibition. I am figuring a way I can make big prints at home. I have the enlarger the baby brother of the 45MXT the 23CIII, and a room I can use next to my bathroom darkroom, so I will be looking into that possibility. Be nice to be able to print a few big prints for the FMP over and above these two I am printing now.

We used Ilford RC MG pearl to-day, but will print on Foma Velvet to-morrow. It is also an RC paper, but it has a matte finish. I am very interested to see and feel the texture of that paper. I saw a test strip up on the wall of a former workshop and i was very impressed with the feel and look of the Foma.  I have used Foma 111, it is fibre base paper, very beautiful. Before this workshop, I was stuck on using fibre bas paper alone, however, after seeing the RC in mural format and touched it myself, I have changed my mind and will use RC for my mural prints. I learned something very interesting to-day: size matters!!!


Day two of the Mural Printing Workshop.

Andrew came up to me and mentioned he did not like the fact that the corners had fall-off and that I could do another print. One of the workshoppers called in ill so that left 3 of us for the day.

We printed the others 2nd prints, then reprinted mine. Andrew re-alingned the condenser lens of the Beseler, we checked the edge to edge illumination and all was fine, so I reprinted the image, I also gave it a 10 second edge/corner burn, this time the print was very good.  The edges, corners, highlights, shadows and the mid-tones, all came out well.

Re-print of: ‘Passing the Shadow’ Notice corners are detailed, no fall off. Photo and work by: Pierre Chemaly ©

We then moved onto my second image. This one was printed on Foma RC Matte (312) I had seen a test strip of the paper and was very pleased the way it looked. Very rich matte blacks and chalky whites with nice middle tones. It looked very good for an RC paper. I never thought I would ever say this about RC, but the tests and the prints convinced me that RC can be very beautiful, and for me, unless I have a very large darkroom with large heat presses and mounting skills, I will stick to the RC prints for the murals.

The test print came out a little flat, so we increased the filter from a #2 to a #3 1/2. and increased the exposure by 5 seconds to 25seconds on the strip test. (the move from a #2 to #3 1\2 requies an exposure increase.   At 50 secs exposure The whites were a little dull and the blacks had a slight dark gray appearance, so we decreased the exposure time from 50 seconds to 40, and gave the shadows a 10 second burn with a #5. The tones came out perfectly on the final print from dark shadows, midtones to white highlights.

2nd Print. approx 40″x 50″ Photo and work: by Pierre Chemaly ©

However the edges of the print got dimpled and there are two very slight creases in the middle of the image. I can trim of the edges by about 5mm on each side, and with dry mounting to board, it may hide the creases.  I learned that the handeling of that large piece of photo paper needs very careful handling, all the way through from exposure to the final wash and dry. I got  two very acceptable prints from the workshop and learned a good deal about handeling and exposing such large pieces of photograhich paper. These are the biggest prints I have made in my pratice so far. The workshop helped me with decisions on  paper selection for the FMP exhibition. RC for the Murals and Fibre Base for the small prints up to 20X24″

The workshop went very well, and I came out having three 40×60 inch prints. I will attempt to correct the edges with Marshall’s as mentioned so this will be good practice. The other two will be cut to the same size and mounted onto sintra or 1/2 inch Gator Foam, I may of may not have it edged taped and laminated, but this whole process is very expensive, so that descision will be made later. Hopefully these are two prints towards my FMP exhibition.


Worked in the darkroom  and made RC and Fibre prints  ranging in size from 5×7 to 11×14.  Fibre takes a lot of washing about 20 minutes per print, and I have to admit that it is a problem. Also having to dry the print is very difficult. Fibre paper curls and buckles and needs to be dry mounted in order to get a real flat print.  This may be a problem with archieving. I know that Ansel used to dry mount his prints, but now that I am faced with the dilemma, I will have to call the Gallery in Carmel and ask a few questions how larger Murals are dry mounted, and if that is acceptable in to days market, because the process is not reversible. I will make some calls to Richard Gadd at the Weston Gallery, I will also call a few curators to get their opion on it.  My RC prints need less washing to be be archival (much less)  2-5 minutes, compared to 20, also I do not need to use a washing aid.  Some of the Foma RC surfaces are pretty nice looking, not as nice as Fibre but mounted and framed it will be very hard to tell. (Descicions, decisions, decisions,)

It seems that dry mounting is the way to go, and if I make fiber prints, I will have to have it done or buy a dry mount press.

Marshall’s Spotting ink. https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1436740-REG/marshall_retouching_ms4b_spot_all_kit_4b_4.html

Besler 23CIII https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/3981-REG/Beseler_8005_02_23CIII_XL_Condenser_Enlarger_230V.html

Week-2-Project Development.

WORK DONE THIS WEEK ON PROJECT.  Friday Feb 8:  Loaded up a few rolls of film, and went driving (125miles) looking at fences. I found some nice images along the Interstate 5 to-day, there was a board on the barbed wire fence  that said “Repent.”

Continue reading Week-2-Project Development.