Monday, September 29, 2014

Darkroom Photography

Happy Monday!

Top: underexposed print
Bottom: slightly less underexposed print
Sometimes it takes a couple of tries!
My Darkroom photography class is quickly becoming a favorite this semester. I took it on a whim, wanting an art class that fit my schedule. I took a digital photography class in high school, but had no idea how to use a 30mm camera. I had never even seen one before class this semester. Luckily, Professor Douglas had us using our cameras proficiently before the end of the second class.

The class meets from 9:45-12:45 on Monday in Sloane Hall on North Campus. I live on North in Purtill Hall this year, so Monday is great because I can wake up at 9:30 if I wanted. Class is just two buildings down for me! In class so far, we have learned the history of photography (so interesting!), how to use a 30mm camera, how to develop film, and we have just started making prints.

Contact sheet of a roll I shot! featuring my sister
This class has been a challenge for me. I am definitely not the most precise person, and working in the darkroom requires a lot of precision. You have to have your water at 68* and a 1:9 ratio of developer to water and agitate at precise intervals. There are many variables at play and at first I found it overwhelming. I can mess it up in so many ways, by creasing the negatives which ruins the image or exposing the paper for too long and it turns black.

Working in the darkroom was also daunting. Everything just seems so much tenser because the lights are off and you're relying on your hands to tell you what needs to be done. However, I have come to really enjoy the rhythm of working in the dark room with the radio on. After awhile, your eyes adjust to the darkness and it is just SO gratifying to see a picture develop when you place it in the chemicals.

My favorite picture so far, a candid of my friend Laura
Developing in the darkroom has also instilled a sense of delayed gratification. I'm used to using my phone to snap quick photos of things I want to remember. I pull my phone out and in an instant I can get a sense of the photo I just took. Is it too light? Too dark? Should I try another angle? Can I put a cool filter on it? Instead of this instant developement, I wind my film into the sprocket holes and go outside to take a picture. I have to make sure the lighting is sufficient and there's a balance of white and black. If not, my meter will suggest I let more or less light in. I have to make sure that my camera is steady if my shutter speed is low. I take the picture, and another, and another with slightly different settings, hoping that one will be good enough for a print. But I am so proud when one comes out that looks okay!

I'm really glad I got the chance to take this class this semester. It's a challenge but I'm coming up with some great art that I can't wait to show off! If you have any questions, please contact me!

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