Contact Sheets and editing

This is more or less how the editing process works for me – it’s an abvreiviated version.
Step One – Film; I expose the film and develop it – I don’t bother to look at it at this time, and usually develop a dozen or so films at a time – it’s not one of my favorite tasks.
Step one – Digital; After capture the shots are put into dated folders so that I can retrieve them at will.
Step two – Film; I make a contact sheet of the whole film onto a sheet of 8×10 photo paper. I tend to do this for 20 – 25 sheets at a time
Step two – Digital; Skip to step three.
Step three – Film; When I have 50 or more contact sheets unedited I put them all up onto a pinboard (or this year staplegun them to my studio wall) – I then go through all of the shots that I don’t want seen at all and cross them out with black ink – then all of the ones that I can’t print due to copyright considerations, permission, or ethical considerations (these things can change) and put a cross on them with a red wax pencil (chinagraph). From here I go through and mark all of the frames that I think look good enough that I want a closer look with a white line (all with waxpencils) around the frames that I want.



Step three – Digital; I change the folder properties so that the icons for the images are larger, thus I can consider the images at a slightly larger scale – i use preview to look closer at marginal images. I then select the images that I want to see as prints and copy them to a new filder before returning the folder back to a normal status and filing the folder – from this point on I work with the new folder with the original folder backed up externally.
Step Four – Film; I then print all of the selected prints as 4×5 prints on black and white proof paper (RC silver paper), and then tape them together as concertina books – I don’t make a point of inspecting them at this stage.
Step Four – Digital; I then Go through the folders of selected files and photoshop them so that they make cohesive sets and are ready for printing (this is my least favorite part of working with digital images). I then print all of the selected prints using a digital printing service – usually for around 12 cents a print – I don’t make a point of inspecting them at this stage. I don’t make concertina books of these.

Step Five – Film; When I have several of these books I lay them out and go through them deciding what to label them as – the labels (apart from rejects are for each of the projects or subjects I’m currently keeping a file for – some images make it to more than one file)
Step Five – Digital; a good stack of these I lay them out and go through them deciding how to group them – the groups (apart from rejects) are for each of the projects or subjects I’m currently keeping a file for – some images make it to more than one file. I move them around in the folders for sorting and delete the rejects (this is why I work with copies).
Step Six – Film; I then break the books up and recreate them as selected subject books – I haven’t gotten to this stage yet in my current project
Step Six – Digital; These are now ready for final selection and being ready for printing.
Step Seven – Film; I then Go into the darkroom and go through the process of making exhibition prints – I tend to make one print as an AP (artist proof) so that I can see how to print the final image and then two final prints of which one will be presented.

It’s not so terribly exciting to see something like this laid out as a step by step process, in practice I find that neither digital nor film is cheaper to work with, and due to experience and a degree of procrastination I’m slightly quicker and more efficient getting silver exhibition prints done than digital exhibition prints.

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