Quarter Life Crisis

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Barytpapier

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Photo course day again. Today we went to the lab again to make some prints. And things went quite well this time, giving more substantial results than last week.

The discovery of the week was old-fashioned ‘Barytpapier’ (which I think is called fibre based paper in English). It’s both a more traditional photo paper and is said to give better quality. The downside in comparison to the the plastic based photo papers that are common these days is that it actually soaks itself full with the chemicals and needs 30-60 minutes of watering after development. Just as you’d expect from paper floating in liquids it’s also much softer than the plastic paper and not particularly good at keeping its shape.

The upside is that you can get old batches of this paper quite cheaply on eBay these days. And so we had plenty of small sheets produced in the GDR in the 1980s or so to use. The paper even has a chamois colour, making the photos look strangely old-fashioned right away. While using this old-fashioned paper that only supports a single (in this case soft) grade, wasn’t particularly convenient, the results (which are still in the lab drying) are very charming. We also used a heated press to straighten the paper that was supposed to give it some shine. We could see that this works, but the results of that could have been better. Actually knowing at which temperature and for how long to use the machine might have helped with that.

Another advantage of using small sheets of photo paper with a fixed grading is that making the prints becomes much quicker. As you only have that one grading, there’s no need to worry about which level of contrast you want. And with the small size, you aren’t as tempted to use image formats that aren’t those of the paper itself and thus save the effort of having to measure and cut everything. What I quite liked was to print the negative on a paper with a rather wide white border around them. Not only does that look nice, I could also conveniently just place it on the table and press the corners down with my fingers while making a print. With no need to place the paper into a frame to press it down (and risk that the paper moves or rotates while doing that, giving uneven borders).

And of course we had plenty of little test snippets once again:

Tray with many little photo snippets used for testing the exposure

December 14, 2006, 0:20

Tagged as bw.

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