I was recently in the darkroom making work prints. I generally make these as simply as possible manipulating only overall contrast. That means a base exposure is applied with no dodging or burning. Lately, I’ve found myself in the darkroom less frequently and I have begun changing this practice. The two photographs included here are from this last darkroom session and show a print with only a base exposure, and one that has been adjusted for local contrast. These were both printed with a 2 1/2 contrast filter and developed exactly the same. After making a test strip, I decided on a 20 second exposure. I liked the bottom two thirds, but I found the shadowed area to be too dark and the top to be too light. The simple solution here is to reduce the base exposure to 10 seconds in order to lighten the shadow, then burn in the lower and upper portions separately. I gave 10 seconds additional to the bottom to bring the exposure back to the original 20 seconds. I gave the top a 20 second burn bringing the exposure to 30 seconds. Now I have a good work print.
So, what’s next? I’m not sure yet, but the shadow looks a little low in contrast, so I may attempt printing the base exposure at a higher contrast. Or, I may use this one to practice split contrast printing. Then again, the whole image may print better at a higher contrast all together. I really don’t know yet, which is the point of a work print. I get to evaluate it and decide what I want the final print to look like and I get to decide how to accomplish it. It’s really great fun and I’m happy I decided to immediately make the second work print, it will save me time in the end. I was only able to print three negatives this time around because I ran out of paper. Time to reorder supplies!