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I started off with the wet baths in my father's basement. It was B&W all the way because of the cost. One of the great tricks I learned was to start developing the print, put the print under the plain white light of the enlarger and the print would "solarize" when you got to the solarization point you liked, you quickly put it in the stop bath and then continued with the process. I tried that technique on photos of tigers and zebras I took at the zoo--it was like looking at a 16x14 negative! The nice thing was that each print was unique because you could exactly replicate the process--always a few seconds of light exposure, getting it into the stop bath a second slower. Very fond memories. But I love my DSLR!
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Similar story to many of the above for me.
Started in under stairs cupboard with black Paterson developing tank, a very old Gnome enlarger (that printed photos, by the way, rather than increasing the size of small bearded men with fishing rods) and a pack of Kodak 'Bromesko' paper.
Quote: Just trolling !
YES and I still AM in the Darkroom !! started in 1951 Festival of Britain Year on a school Trip was shown through a Kodak Brownie Reflex Camera owned by a Classmate and joined the School Photo-Soc where the Chemistry Master sold Kodak 'Velox' contact paper at 1d (penny) a sheet and provided home-made developer and fix in dissection dishes ( Luckily the dissected FROGS had been removed first !) I ended up running the School Photo-Soc and it was a BIG Day when we got a Gnome Enlarger with a lens which had only f11 and f16 on it ( very DIM !) -- it was put in a cupboard in the Physics Dept and I made a Half Plate enlargement of my Mum on Kodak Bromide WSG S and took it home wet between two sheets of School Graph Paper -- I still have it in an album with the green lines from the Graph Paper imprinted on it !
I joined the South Essex Camera Club in 1952, and they had a home-made enlarger which members could hire for 2/6d a week (12.5 New Pence) and I did a lot on that. Then I made my own in Metal Work Classes from Dried Milk tins and part of an old plate camera -- it kept fusing the lights ! I use to load films in the coal cupboard under the stairs and my Mum would hold up an old ex-Army blanket -- often my Dad would arrive puffing and blowing from the London Smogs from his work at Liverpool Street Station to be told he could not open the door as 'The Boy' was in the cupboard !
Now I have been in 'Professional Photography' since 1959 and learned it all at Camera Clubs so I passed my ABIPP and ARPS in 1970 but have still not 'made my Fortune' as nobody wants 'Pro' Photographers any more, they all want it FREE or by the'Girl in the Office'
All very nostalgic and shows your passion.
Digital has opened up countless more doors that puts you in the driving seat. Being conditioned is not healthy.
Digital B&W has given me the possibility of all kinds of techniques and prints without filling the darkroom cupboard with all the different grades of paper and the chemicals.
I will admit a wet print finely printed has a quality of its own that sadly only those that recognise it appreciates it.
Quote: 'made my Fortune' as nobody wants 'Pro' Photographers any more, they all want it FREE or by the'Girl in the Office'
That is the price of digital.
Done the usual route and has been a fascinating journey.
Interesting to see that Alan Sugar (Lord Sugar) did the very same with blacked out windows printing street shots of the children then showing the parents.
He wrote `PROOF` across the print with a Biro saying if they wanted copies they would cost X.
Reminds me of times spent many years ago, of attempting to load an exposed film onto a developing tank's spool, while standing hunch backed in a wardrobe. The theory being, of coarse, to ensure absolute darkness. How many times did a stray elbow catch the door and open it,....masterpieces lost!..... other options were applied to ensure success! I wonder how many of us keep redundant enlargers stored away, never to see the light of day ( or should that be dark! ) again reluctant to part with the memories,,,,thank goodness for digital.
Many moons ago (50+) I had about five or six 120 B&W films to get developed.
I used to get them done at the local Cycle Shop where I got my bike spares.(believe it or not )
My pocket money wouldn't stretch to getting them all done in one go, and I mentioned it to the proprietor, and he suggested that I do them myself.
He explained the basic principles, and let me have some chemicals and a pack of paper, a thin paperback book on D&P and a wooden printing frame, to be paid for when I had the cash.
The first film was developed in a bowl and by some stroke of luck the it came out OK, not perfect, but printable.
Printing was not so easy and much trial and error took place, but I finally started getting some decent prints.
I later got hold of a second hand tank, and then a crappy plastic Agfa enlarger, crappy lens, but I learned the basics of enlarging with it!
Kidz have it so easy nowadays, lucky b's.
Boarding School education (for what it was worth) got me started all those years ago, the school had it's own darkroom in the science lab and we all built our own pinhole cameras as pupils. Photography was an extra curricular evening activity and I spent many hours developing my own personal 120 & 35mm B&W film and developing the prints from it. Priviledged kid? Unfortunately not, but we won't go there.....But I did enjoy the photography
My love for photography grew momentum when i was in my mid-teens and the art department at school were offering basic photography and darkroom classes at lunchtimes.
I'd always had cameras (compacts and polaroids), but it was at this time when i got my first SLR and started shooting b+w. Being in control of the camera, and then later processing and printing my own work gave me a greater understanding of light and a respect for photography and over the next few years i devloped (pardon the pun) my skills and techniques.
These days i mostly shoot digital, but i still use medium format when i can, and process the negs myself (although the negs tend to get scanned and printed as i no longer have the darkroom set up)
I love b+w, but have no preference over colour. It really depends on the image for me
digital only for me Nick - had a film point and shoot from 1999 to about 2001, when it broke, and then digital
I`m still at it, just a bit, use a fixed lens range finder and a tiny medium format twin lens reflex (lomo) thats no bigger than a digital compact.
Yes, I started out using wet darkroom as a student. Developing microscope plates (was studying Metallurgy) and some developing and printing of 35mm when I had access to a darkroom with an enlarger (oh, and one roll film, but I forget how that came about - this is late 60s/early 70s). Didn't stick with me, though, for various reaons (money, time etc. and the fact that I preferred colour....a preference that was reinforced the few times I strayed back into B&W using labs to process and print)
No real preference now - current interest is probably as a result of watching old B&W films, and of course digital makes it so convenient.
Devved my first film and did my first wet print when I was 15. Then forgot about photography for about 15 years until my OH bought me a Pentax P30T.
Kitchen was the darkroom and had to be completely taken over for the day as it wasn't worth organising everything for just a couple of hours.
Mostly b/w, but when Boots printed out my enlargements all the wrong size and with grotty colours I started printing my own, neg and reversal.
Fave b/w task was devving b/w film. I loved it when it came off the reel and you squeegied it. Negs always looked better than the prints.
Sold darkroom a few years ago for £200 for everything. A sad day, but there's no going back.
Still remember the smells and how I got lost for a whole day and forgot about everything else except the images.
Lubitel - bought one for £20 in the old shop round the back of Tottenham Court Road. Leaked like hell, but it was fun while it lasted.
Did you start out in a wet darkroom? NO
What Is your preference B&W (inc. toned etc, etc) or Colour or no preference? B&W and Toned
I will play the exception then, started off over 20 years ago with 35mm film cameras first one being a Pentax and moved swiftly to digital the moment it came out with no hesitation whatsoever, sticking with Pentax and the ist , then istds and then the K series as far as the K20 when the lack of pro lenses starting holding me back and then jumped to Canon.
Have always loved Black and White and the way a photo is so much more involving without its colour , especially more so now with the digital control over precise toning of B&W which brings it into another art form of its own for me. So i guess I would agree that it takes a more artistic person to appreciate b&w rather than it being anything to do with darkrooms.
Though on that subject , I have blackout curtains in my editing office so in a way its not dissimilar and just as confined !
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