Dokas Photos - Silver Images

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On Making Prints - Overview

Normally photographs are made by placing a small negative in an enlarger in order to make a picture large enough for people to see. The problem with this method is that the closer you view the image, the fuzzier it becomes.

What you see is a silver print made from an 8"×10" negative rather than from a much smaller negative. The value of using such a large negative is apparent the closer you view the image. Instead of getting fuzzier the image now keeps getting clearer. The reason lies in the fact that the larger the negative, the more information that can be stored on it.

To make such a large negative requires a large camera. I use an 8"×10" large format field camera, the type used around the turn of the century. It is made of wood with a large leather bellows. To focus, you get under a black cloth and view the image upside down on an etched glass plate at the back of the camera.

Instead of using single negatives in printing, I make unsharp masks. An unsharp mask is an 8"×10" sheet of film which are pin registered to the negative. On top of that sandwich of film, using frosted drafting film; I make additional burning and dodging masks. These are made by drawing on the film to hold back light in some areas while cutting holes in the film to allow light in others to pass. This results in much precision when making burns and dodges. Detail is what interests me. Printing through a sandwich of both negative and positive film results in increased sharpness and expanded tonal range.

If you would like more detail on the process, I encourage you to read a more technical overview of the processes I use.