Last month, a fellow photographer hosted a nice discussion on her blog about post processing – do we do it, how much, personal reasons and some discussion of ethics. While I might wish to be a purist, it reminded me of how much fun I used to have in the darkroom, dodging, burning, measuring and masking to superimpose or just for finer exposure adjustment. So for June I gave myself the project of working on images that captured high detail in camera and required extensive post processing.

I used to think spending 3 to 4 hours in the darkroom making fine adjustments to achieve the image I wanted was allot of work. Each of these sessions was 3 1/2 hours on location shooting and adjusting light angles and a little extra time at the end of the night to play with colored gels. Each “print” was 3 to 6 hours adjusting (dodging, burning and exposure) each negative before superimposing, then constant refinements after walking away and reviewing again and again. As my darkroom instructor used to say, “You want the best negative you can start with to make a print, you can’t add detail that’s not in the negative, but even the most perfect negative is still only as good as the final print.”

Coaldale Station is between 14 and 17 negatives, all shot at 30 sec, f4, ISO200. 18-50 Sigma macro at 18mm with one hand held light and a golf cart battery under a quarter moon.

Tonopah Junction is between 12 & 13 negatives, all shot at 30 sec, f5.6, ISO200, 70mm Pentax and one hand held light and golf cart battery under no moon – pure dark skies.

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