Fail Better

Ever tried. Ever Failed. No Matter. Try again. Fail Again. Fail Better. -Samuel Beckett


sonny rosenberg

2/19/20231 min read

The quote above is one of my favorites. It spurs me to persist in spite of continued failure. Not that last night's darkroom session was a complete and utter failure. I do like the negative from the previous days shoot, so I learned that (as expected) I do have an affinity for Arista Ortho Litho film. I also learned that while this film is high contrast, it doesn't have a very wide contrast range, only a few stops it seems as the highlights tend to blow out while the shadows block up, at least with Kompostinol. Maybe I will try diluting the Kompostinol? Still, I look forward to shooting more of this film. Also, I think I saw that Rollei Ortho 25 is available in 5x7, or am I crazy? If it is, I may try it in spite of it's other worldly price.

The shot below was taken with my new Mui-Sui 5x7 pinhole camera on the above mentioned film, but as mentioned, this one was developed in Kompostinol for almost 3.5 minutes. I let it go a little too far though, and the negative is quite dense. Too dense it seems to use with cyanotypes at all.

I tried 3 different expsoures of widely varying times and got nothing each time. I was a bit dumbfounded that the negative could be so dense that it wouldn't print at all. I knew it would scan well as I've successfully scanned much denser negatives than this. But print as a cyanotype? Fuggetaboutit!

Because I was so taken aback by this complete lack of results, I thought I better do a control print. I didn't know that my sensitizer solution wasn't going off, or what other unforseen issue might be mucking up my prints. I just had no idea what was happening. I exposed a digital negative that had printed well before and it worked! It was slightly over exposed, and it's become clear to me that I don't prefer cyanotpes on Fabriano smooth press, so the result is nothing to write home about.

So there you go. Two failures, yet I do see promise in the new camera and film and just as a photograph I do like the black and white. I think, that soon I'll take it out and shoot a bunch of shots to see how the Arista Ortho performs under different conditions.

Fail better.