In my previous blog post I talked about my time with the book The Street Photographer’s Manual and that I made darkroom prints of the final photographs. But there was one exercise that I abstained from printing, Sequences. That is because the final result of that exercise produced four images and I didn’t want them to end up on separate papers, so I had to figure out a way to print them all on just a single paper.
After thinking through the problem I devised a theoretical solution, if I used a small enough projection I would be able to fit the four images on one photo paper. A guide was made out of a piece of printer paper to enable me to set the correct projection size on the enlarger. At first the photographs would be placed in a column with the first image of the sequence on the top and the last at the bottom. This proved to be a bad idea because the size of each image would have been too small to see details clearly. Rearranging the images in a grid pattern, with the first image in the top left and the last in the bottom right, solved the problem.
While in the darkroom I used strips of photo paper to make test prints of each of the four images to figure out the correct exposure settings. While doing this I found out that the exposure settings are dependant on the projection size, meaning that a larger projection size increases exposure time while a smaller size decreases it.
With the settings figured out I used the guide to position the easel under the enlarger. With photo paper placed on the easel the first exposure was made. After the timer ran out I carefully placed the photo paper inside a black plastic bag and placed it under a towel, taking care to remember it’s correct orientation. This was done to protect the paper from light exposure when changing the negative in the enlarger. With the next negative placed inside the enlarger head I took out the photo paper from the plastic bag and repeated the process.
After the photo paper had been exposed to the four images it was time for development. With nervous anticipation I watch as the photographs slowly appeared, my theoretical solution had worked. With the lights on I inspected my newly made print. To my dismay I found a small masking error on the bottom right image and, being the perfectionist I am, felt I had to redo the printing process. Fortunately the second one turned out fine.
I am glad that I embarked on this little project even though it took some time to figure out how to approach it. The hardest part was figuring out exposure settings for all of the images and several photo papers were wasted on this task. But I pulled through and in the end learned a new printing technique and gained more darkroom experience.