I booked back into the darkroom a few days after my second attempt. I wanted to reshoot using some of the feedback that I’d had from the OCA South West group.
I wanted to frame the images better and make more of a feeling of depth. For the former, I had had a custom sized piece of glass made with smoothed edges. Fortunately, as it turned out, I also had a larger piece made. For the latter, I planned to work with multiple layers per image where possible.
I got to the darkroom and set up to find that due to bad packing on my part my small piece of glass had acquired a small scratch. I was alone in the darkroom without the ability to lock it completely behind me if I went out, so I decided to use the larger piece of glass and try the images without the frame. I had the whole day to play with and it turned out I was happy with the results without the frame.
I tried to be more organised and kept a list of the filter settings and exposure settings for each image. Once I found the tiny window showing the aperture settings I was able to record those settings too. I made test strips/prints for everything, using either 12×16 paper cut into quarters or 5×7 paper whole or halved. I have kept all these as I think they will make an interesting handmade book or scrapbook.
I finished with ten best images, on 12×16 Ilford RC Satin paper. Of this ten, six were quite high contrast (Set 1 above), whereas four had slightly less definition mainly due to being of garments made of very pale mesh or netting (Set 2 above). This might be a criterion for selection – a high contrast set or a more nebulous, ethereal set? They are not 100% perfect. Some have an unexposed strip on one edge because of errors placing the work (I need to use tape or something to mark placement guides). A couple has tiny marks from the glass that I used to hold the item flat, this was from lint or fibres picked up from the fabric. One has a small “tidemark” from where the paper wasn’t fully submerged soon enough in the tank of fixer. I think this work is far enough evolved though to go to my tutor and any rework needed I will do in a session after feedback arrives. I need to bear in mind that photograms are a manual process and that the odd evidence of this is not necessarily a bad thing but equally a little more diligence in cleaning the glass between images is not necessarily a bad thing either.
I need to consider remaking this on larger paper (16×20) for assessment. A consistent comment, from Jesse at OCA SW to the darkroom owner is that they could do with a little more room to breathe. This is achievable – the darkroom enlargers can accommodate that size (though accurate positioning will become even more important), I can have a larger piece of glass made and I still have all the various garments. This does come into category of decisions that I will seek my tutor’s thoughts on. The more I look at this set the more I think that all the bras need reshooting, generally for positioning reasons but also to see if I can improve the Cross Your Heart image. It looks like it’s back to front but actually is the right way round. Despite its multiple layers of netting and lace it is almost entirely transparent under the enlarger and you can see straight through to the back. I’m also unsure about the zipped lace thong body, I’d like to even out the gusset a bit, but at the moment you can see the lace peeking though a tiny hole which I quite like too.
The work that I now need to do is to make a selection, photograph them all, and write up the blog posts needed to finish this work. I am wondering about making some of them into a Viewmaster disc and will try that too.