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)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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