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Wet Printing My Grandfathers Negatives


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#1 480sparky

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Posted 12 February 2015 - 05:39 PM

When my dad's mother passed away in 1983 (his dad died in 1960), I took ownership of all the photos she had saved from before they were married until 1960.

My grandfather was a very avid photographer, and was rarely without a camera.  I have over 1400 of his film negatives alone, which I have in the past year sorted, cataloged, digitized and placed in archival storage sleeves.  In all, they take up two 3" binders.

OldNegs01.jpg


Last year, I got back into printing black & white film the old fashioned way.... with chemicals in a darkroom.  Well, not a [I]proper[/I] darkroom, just my master bath temporarily rearranged.  The enlarger I got is capable of holding negatives up to 4x5".  

I recently realized I now had the ability to actually make real, genuine 'wet' prints of my grandfathers negatives.  Although I have digitized all of them and it would be stupid-easy to email the files off to a lab, I decided to take a different path.  Yes, actually put his old negatives into my enlarger and make wet prints.

I started going through all the digitized images, and selected 24 candidates.  Mostly, shots of my dad and his four siblings.  Most were taken in the 30's and 40's.  From those, I narrowed them down to 10.

There was only one problem, however.  The vast majority of the negatives are not of a standard, 'modern' size.  They are 4½ x 5¾.  Since 5 inches is the maximum for this enlarger, I had no chance to find a carrier for such an antiquated format size.


I did, however, find out that not only is a 4x5 carrier standard, but there were at least two version of a 4x5 carrier that had two thin glass plates in it.  Primarily, it was to hold curled film perfectly flat.  But I thought, "Hmmmm.  I wonder if I could put some of these odd-sized negs in and make some prints?"

So this morning, my phone notified me that the glass carrier I won on ebay last week was 'Out for Delivery'.  So down to the local brick-n-mortar camera store to drop a c-note on a box of top-notch paper.  When I came home, there was a box at the door.  The carrier had been delivered.  I was now set to start printing my grandfather's negatives... the same way he did back in the 20's and 30's.

My plan is to take all 10 negatives and make 5 8x10s of each and put them in an album.  10 images, a set for each of his children.  Taken by their father, and printed using the same method he used.

I cleaned up the carrier (the glass was filthy!), and just a moment ago I put the first of my selections into the enlarger.  After making the proper adjustments, I brought the image into focus.

A shiver actually went down my spine.  I was looking back in time.  I was peering at my dad, my aunt and three uncles.  The shot was taken around 1936 or 1937 by their ages.  Even though I had seen the negative before, and even prints that had been made way back then, and even the processed image I created digitally from the negative........ there was just something magical about looking at that reversed image that has survived almost 80 years.

OldNegs02.jpg

My dad would be the one right smack dab in the middle.

After dark (my 'darkroom' is not so light-tight), I'll pour out the chemicals into the trays, fire up the timers, and pay tribute to a man and a photographer I never had the chance to know.


Stay tuned!


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#2 Dennis

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Posted 12 February 2015 - 06:03 PM

Very cool. I lost most of my neg's and my fathers neg in a flood. I have been thinking about getting a medium format camera. I remember the days of watching the print appear right before your eyes.


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#3 480sparky

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Posted 12 February 2015 - 08:19 PM

First image is complete.

OldNegs03.jpg

I decided to make 6 of each... so I can have a set.


Edited by 480sparky, 12 February 2015 - 10:26 PM.

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#4 Wheatsack

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Posted 12 February 2015 - 10:09 PM

Great project Sparky... good to see all those neg's being preserved.


Peter................................................ f8....and be there....


#5 480sparky

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Posted 12 February 2015 - 11:07 PM

Second selection:

OldNegs04.jpg


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#6 480sparky

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Posted 13 February 2015 - 09:37 PM

Third image all printed up:

Oldnegs5.jpg


My great-grandmother, who was known for her very tall sunflowers.


As an added bonus, my neighbor was celebrating her birthday today.  Her kids & grandkids were over for supper.  So I thought some of the little ones might be interested in seeing an old-fashioned darkroom in action.  Three of them (ages 10-13) came over, and I made a print for them.  They were very impressed, the oldest studying the enlarger and trays.


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#7 480sparky

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Posted 13 February 2015 - 10:33 PM

Numero cuatro:

OldNegs06.jpg

Great-grandparents.


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#8 480sparky

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 08:18 PM

V:

OldNegs07.jpg


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#9 480sparky

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 09:20 PM

00000110:

OldNegs08.jpg

I know this one was taken in Nov, 1944, as soon as the oldest (Back right) was 18 and could join the service.


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#10 chaswes5

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 10:27 PM

These are wonderful.
Charles Wesley

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#11 james23p

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Posted 15 February 2015 - 04:50 PM

Wow what a wonderful treasure well done Sparky!

Jim

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#12 480sparky

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Posted 15 February 2015 - 08:20 PM

007:

OldNegs09.jpg

I think this one is about as close to a 'formal' image of the kids there is.


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#13 james23p

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Posted 15 February 2015 - 08:35 PM

Nice! Sparky you do excellent work.

Jim

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#14 480sparky

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Posted 15 February 2015 - 09:20 PM

OldNegs10.jpg

My grandmother, on left, with her sisters and parents.


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#15 480sparky

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Posted 16 February 2015 - 08:54 PM

OldNegs11.jpg

Very blurry, and underexposed to boot.  But it shows my grandmother doing what she loved....... picking up rocks, bottles, driftwood etc. for craft projects at home.

This is probably somewhere in South Dakota or Wyoming in the early 50's.


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#16 480sparky

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Posted 16 February 2015 - 10:25 PM

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand.................... No 10.

OldNegs12.jpg

About the closest I'll see to their wedding photo, if this isn't it.  The white spots are reflections of the light.

Their marriage was supposed to be a secret, as my grandmother was still in school, even though she was 19.  She had to work so much to help support the family she missed a few years.

So the minister was sworn to secrecy.  Problem was, his [I]wife [/I]wasn't.  Next morning, she spilled the beans to my great-grandfather.  Since married girls didn't attend school, my grandmother had to drop out.

I have 1 Jan 1926 as their wedding day.  But a trip to the courthouse last Friday has it a 31 Dec 1925.  Maybe they said 1 Jan 'coz "That's when Father found out."!


Anyhoo... that's the ten I chose.  I originally selected 42, and it was damned hard to narrow it down to these precious few.  Tomorrow, I go album shopping so I can get them all packaged up and ready to send out to dad & his siblings.


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#17 480sparky

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Posted 17 February 2015 - 04:17 PM

Found some archival albums today.  The will hold 24 8x10s, so there's room to add more.

Albums_resized.jpg

I just need to make copies of some birth certificates and registration of marriage and out they go.


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#18 480sparky

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Posted 20 February 2015 - 11:54 PM

And away they went.

Two of 'em got delivered in person today, the other 3 are headed to Texas, Idaho and Arizona.


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#19 james23p

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Posted 21 February 2015 - 12:01 AM

Wonderful gifts and memories Sparky.

Jim

God bless all those in harms way and Go Navy!




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#20 photojazz

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Posted 21 February 2015 - 01:35 AM

Wow and congrats to you and your success. Reading your notes and seeing the results reminds me of my days in the dark room.

Thanks for the posting.

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