Sunday, June 08, 2008

My Saturday.

I was over in the Hollywood neighborhood for my monthly haircut and Hollywood Camera was just opening up so I got a chance to visit with Ed and look at some of his new acquisitions. He had a really nice Sunpak professional strobe, complete with stand and for a very reasonable price but I have no money and a trade would be out of the question since he will sell the unit easily. He also had this amazing Durst color enlarger that I am going to have to go back and photograph because this piece was impressive. I always looked down my nose at Durst enlargers because they were usually made out of plastic and looked more like toys then precision pieces of optical equipment like my favorite Omega or a Besler. This one though was built for a professional market and had a lot of features, very high tech. Hopefully he won't sell it before I can get back and take some pictures of it and post them here. He had a nice big enamel tray that was in pretty good shape, but of an odd size so if I wanted to use it for 11x14 prints I'd have to shave off a bit on the width because the tray is exactly 11 inches wide or 10 and 15/16ths, I'm not sure but a 11x14 print can't be accomodated. He has had an Omega Grain Focuser that I had been looking at for awhile. My eyesite isn't what it once was and I need a high quality tool for focusing negatives on my enlarger easel before printing. I've been searching for one that would give me a bright and highly magnified image so I could focus the individual grains in the negative. This one was made by Omega and the one I had been using was a Peak. If you set them side by side they are exactly the same except for the label. The Omega though has a higher quality lens that was brighter and with greater magnification and was a big improvement and made focusing easier for me. Working with a cold light the image is a bit dimmer and more diffused then a condenser head so you need a grain focuser of good quality to get your negatives in proper focus. I had to try it out and since the day was pretty gloomy I spent the day in the darkroom testing it out. I worked with some paper I had bought a year ago that I was curious to try out. I only had 10 sheets of it. It was a warm toned, variable contrast, baryta paper manufactured in the Czech Republic. The paper base was not pure white but more of an aged ivory. The paper also had a surface texture called "Chamois" which was unusual. Surface texture can really reduce clarity in an image. If you want surface details to be optimized you want to use a gloss paper. I like a gloss surface for some subjects especially if I have a really sharp negative with low grain. Matte papers are a nice compromise. Textured paper though gives you that pictoral, painting like quality that the photo-secessionists dismissed but I like for some prints. I made some prints using one of my favorite Bonsai images and then gold toned a couple of them to see how they took the gold toner.


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