The entire process of analogue photography and printing is one full of variables and occasional surprises.
Mishaps are not uncommon. I am guessing that most, if not all of those out there who develop and print their own work have experienced some kind of technical issue or setback along the way.
The photo I will be sharing with you today was taken on a local walk during the spring/summer of 2020. I was travelling light with just my Yashica mat loaded with a roll of FP4 and my trusty Sekonic Twinmate.
The sun was dropping and there were interesting things happening in the sky, as I climbed the sea wall, I turned to see incredible clouds and a brilliant glow bouncing off the water. I composed the shot, took a light reading and fired the shutter.
While inspecting the developed negative, I unfortunately discovered some kind of residue had attached itself to the film at some point. To this day I have no idea what caused this. I consulted a friend of mine with a wealth of experience. We explored every avenue but could not work out the cause.
I put the negative away from some time, reluctant to print it. Nowadays I tend to not let these things bother me too much so I resolved to work on a print with the intention of “spotting” the obvious marks on the print.
Here are the first test strips. I started at 10 seconds and exposed in 10 second increments (10,20,30,40,50). From this test print I determined that my exposure for the land and water part of the image was going to need to be somewhere very close to 10 seconds so I then produced more tests from 10 seconds adding a second each time (10,11,12,13,14). From this print I decided on an exposure time of 12 seconds.
If you look at both sets of tests you can see some of the white marks on the grass on the left of the print.
Next was to find out the correct exposure time for the sky. From the small part of sky at the top of the previous tests, I thought 30 seconds would be a good time to work around so I produced a strip of 20,25,30,35,40 seconds. 35 seemed about right to me so I was all set to make the first print. (Note: the test strips of the sky are slightly blurry as I moved the Paterson test strip maker at some point when making the print)
The first print turned out really well and to my surprise, I wasn’t actually too bothered about the white marks dotted around the print though they were distracting. So armed with a set of nylon fine detail brushes and a set of dusty old ‘Spotone’ retouching colours I set to work spotting the print.
I used the border of the print to test different tones. Lighter shades are achieved by diluting with water.
The two images below show a kind of before and after example of the print while being spotted. The areas look obvious here but did blend quite nicely when dry.
The Final Print
So there we have it. Although my spotting work leaves much to be desired, I feel I have saved the print.
After all, I am left with a print that I am really happy with, warts and all.
Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and I would love to hear from you in the comments below.