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

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