Laurent Girard is a master black and white printer based in NYC. I just discovered his astonishing blog, A Printer’s Life. I’m not going to try to tell you who he’s printed for. The list is too big to comprehend. He writes like beat poetry. It’s frantic. Here’s a taste.
“then the developer, i don’t change the timing there either for the same image, got to keep consistent. always agitate the same way. and i look at the first black coming up, at different time for different papers. drain really well, always the same amount, dip in the stop bath -99% glacial acetic acid- for 30 sec to a minute, agitate, then drain well -you don’t want to mix acid and hypo too much all day long, it gives off bad fumes- and the fix is just a formality at this point (even if it was the toughest chemical to figure out in the invention of photography). i say a formality because after you agitate a couple times you can turn the light on (print face down). the light you turn on to look at the print should always be the same. if i change that -or until i’m used to it in a new darkroom- i can’t print properly. once i know my in-darkroom viewing light, i can tell the dry-down exactly. i close my eyes to get used to the change dark-light-dark for a few seconds each time.”
Read the whole blog. There are golden nuggets strewn liberally throughout. But don’t forget to take breaks. The posts are relentless.