Exhibition Preparation

silver gelatine prints hanging to dry
I dry my prints in my darkroom by hanging them up to dry on a clothesline made for that purpose

I am madly preparing for an exhibition that my curator friend Gary has organised this year in Adelaide. The work I’m printing is from my archive and has several decisions driving the final outcome.

The size of the prints is the first issue for me to ponder, the second the quantity.  If I print large, 16 x 20 inches then I only need 6 or so. Smaller sizes require more prints.

silver gelatin print in a wash tray
A silver gelatine test print sits on the wash.

This weekend I started printing on the largest paper I have, 16 inches by 20 inches. I made one print on Saturday on this paper after several false starts. The plan at this point was to make about 6 to 8 prints to hang at the gallery in Atkins Lab in Adelaide. To make this one print I used 4 sheets of paper. At that rate I was going to run out of paper. So I started thinking about making smaller prints.  Not only are smaller prints easier to make in terms of handling the paper, they are usually quicker to make requiring shorter exposure times.

Using the split filter system I like to use to make prints means that I can make about 3 prints an hour depending on the state of the negative in terms of density and contrast. Some prints “fall” out of the enlarger, making them easy, others require 2 or 3 tests to get right. Either way I now have about 8 prints to choose from to consider for hanging in the exhibition.

Apart from all these considerations, it has been great fun printing negatives that are from my archive some of these negatives have never been any bigger than a contact, they are all from 5″ x 4″ inch negatives, some are over 25 years old.

A fruitful weekend all round.