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Thor's Well - Silver Gelatin Darkroom Print

Updated: Aug 12, 2023

After 4 months of construction and fabrication I am very pleased that my darkroom project is now complete and my darkroom is capable of full production. To that end, my new Limited Edition of Thor's Well, Cape Perpetua, Oregon is ready for sale. I thought I'd tell everyone a bit about what goes into the "hand made" part of producing a sepia and selenium toned, archival process, silver gelatin fine art photograph....

First of course you have to take the photograph. This particular photograph I took with my Hasselblad 503cx and 50mm F4 CFe T* Zeiss lens on Kodak T-Max 100. My preferred film stock is Ilford FP4+, but the Kodak was what was loaded at the time, so it's what I shot. I then developed this in Ilford ID-11 (Which is chemically the same as Kodak's D-76, a formula which dates back to about 1927!) and one which I have always enjoyed using.

It took quite a few nights in the darkroom (the curtains on the windows block most of the light...) to dial in the exposure regimen, and a lot of that was settling on a light source (I had 3 to choose from.) In the end I opted for a homemade LED arrangement which actually worked best out of the 3. I never knew how bad the old Arista cold lights were back in the day until now. Back then they were great, but we had nothing else to compare them too.

After developing the Ilford multigrade fiber based paper in Ilfords Multigrade developer 1:9 for 3 minutes, it's 30 seconds in the stop and 5 minutes in Ilfords rapid Fixer, and then a 1 hour wash in my Versalab 11x14 Archival print washer which has become one of my favorite pieces of darkroom equipment. After the prints dry and usually the next day I inspect them and re-wet them for toning. The first bath is the sepia bleach diluted 1:200 for 30 seconds, then a 5 minute wash followed by 3 minuted in the sepia working solution followed by another 10 minute wash. I then immerse the prints in an Ilford selenium bath 1:19 for 2 minutes followed by a final 1 hour archival wash. the print is then hung to air dry naturally.

When the print is dry I then inspect it and retouch any imperfections and allow to dry again. I fire up my Seal Commercial 210 dry mount press to 200F and place the print and the board I am mounting to in the press to remove any residual or ambient moisture, about 5 minutes does the trick. At the same time I tack the dry mount tissue (either Colormount or MT-5 - Ansel Adams used to use Colormount, how cool is that?) to the back of the print and then trim both the print and the tissue in my Rotatrim paper trimmer. The I carefully measure and tack the print and tissue to the board and place in the hot press for 1 minute under pressure. The print is them permanently mounted to the board. I then sign, stamp and number the print, and hand cut a mat attaching it with archival linen tape. It truly is an intensive and multi stage and day process. But I think it also produces a finished print that still is the pinnacle of the photographic fine art process. I can't speak to the aesthetic qualities of my work, that I'll leave up to the beholders, but I am confident in my process that my work can hang proudly on the same gallery walls which support Micheal Kenna's and Ansel Adams' fine art traditional silver gelatin photographs.

And having said all that, my Limited Edition silver gelatin photograph of Thor's Well, Cape Perpetua, Oregon is now available for purchase in my shop here on my website. Use Coupon Code "SILVER" for $165 off until December 31st, making this print $150 total, including shipping. And as always, thank you for your support, Happy Holidays, and God Bless!!

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