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The End of the Darkroom?


Hi All.

My name is Jon and I am on a work placement course here at ephotozine. I have been asked to put together an article/debate about whether darkrooms still have a place in modern photography.

I was just wodnering if anyone would be willing to share their views on the subject.

Do you use darkrooms and other traditional methods? if not what is your opinion on them?

Is it a good thing that we are moving on, should we forget about the traditional methods or do they still have a part to play in modern photography?

Can the old and new methods work together in teh modern era?

If anyon would be willing to share their opinions with me it would be much appreciated and their quotes could even be used in the article.

Thanks.

Jon.

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conrad e2
10 10.9k 116
21 Jul 2008 11:03AM
Valid questions, I think, but to ask them in 7 identical threads is a bit o.t.t., don't you think?
lobsterboy e2
11 14.3k 13 United Kingdom
21 Jul 2008 11:11AM

Quote:Valid questions, I think, but to ask them in 7 identical threads is a bit o.t.t., don't you think?


Reduced to 1 Smile
keith selmes
11 7.1k 1 United Kingdom
21 Jul 2008 11:22AM

Quote:Do you use darkrooms and other traditional methods?

I don't have room for a darkroom, and never did, though I might try adapting the bathroom. So for now I use daylight processing for film, and POP for printing.
I find it fascinating, but getting a good POP print is not easy, and it all requires some space clearing and preparation work.


Quote:Is it a good thing that we are moving on
We're not


Quote:should we forget about the traditional methods
We're not going to forget older methods (traditional is the wrong word).


Quote:do they still have a part to play in modern photography?
In practice it works the other way round - modern photgraphy has a part to play in older methods Smile
New chemical processes are now used in place of older and more dangerous processes and materials. Digital photography is used to print negatives on plastic transparency paper, so they can be used with alternative chemical processes.

I think its relevant to your enquiry that I never processed a film until after I had begun using a computer with photography forums, and internet shopping, and had begun scanning film into digital files. Most of the information, equipment and materials have come via computer networks and discussion, and I would say that digital technology has been fuelling new interest in chemical photography, as well as in digital art. The whole range of activity is expanding.
Snapper e2
9 3.8k 3 United States Outlying Islands
21 Jul 2008 11:24AM

Quote:I have been asked to put together an article/debate about whether darkrooms still have a place in modern photography.


And which troll put you up to this? We should be told! Wink
keith selmes
11 7.1k 1 United Kingdom
21 Jul 2008 11:34AM

Quote:which troll put you up to this?
The questions are somewhat loaded.


Quote:Do you use darkrooms and other traditional methods? if not what is your opinion on them?

I initially missed the if not, implying opinions from chemical photographers are not required.
Pete e2
13 18.7k 96 England
21 Jul 2008 11:37AM
We are working with a selection of students to give them opportunity to write material for our site for their course work/portfolios, so Jon is not a troll.

The questions asked will help create an article about the darkroom's role in the modern digital world. The completed article will appear on the site in the near future. Jon has written a few articles for us already...here's an example Turbines We feel it's a good idea to add more debating content to the site, but as our internal team is busy adding news and reviews so we're getting external help to deliver a broader range of content...hope you enjoy.
exposure e2
10 1.8k England
21 Jul 2008 12:06PM
I love the darkroom and as soon as I can I will have one up and running again, I think there's Room for traditional to run along side Modern print production and creativity.
joolsb e2
10 27.1k 38 Switzerland
21 Jul 2008 12:07PM
I think that there will always be photographers who want to differentiate their work from the mainstream and one way to do this is to go back to using older methods, perhaps reinterpreting them in the light of new experiences.

Plus there is the perception that a good wet darkroom print takes a great deal more skill to produce than one from an inkjet. Furthermore, no two handmade darkroom prints will be entirely identical - even if a 'recipe' is used for their production - due to the nature of the process.

So, yes the darkroom still has a place in modern photography.
Snapper e2
9 3.8k 3 United States Outlying Islands
21 Jul 2008 12:14PM

Quote:
The questions asked will help create an article about the darkroom's role in the modern digital world.



I think it is one of the great myths of the digital age that many people had darkrooms in days gone by, since the vast majority either took their colour film to Boots or wherever and went back later to pick up the prints, or they shot slides which they posted off to Kodak, Agfa or Fuji. This myth continues today on the subject of home printing, since an awful lot of people now take their memory card to Boots, Tesco, wherever and pick up their prints later, if they bother getting any prints done at all.

I'm as guilty (or guiltier) than most in that I have the ability to have my darkroom up and running with a few hours work, and one of these days I'll maybe even do it! In the meantime, I still shoot film and either develop and scan it myself (normal b&w) or have it developed and written to CD at Tesco (XP2) for 1.98.

While there was frustration at getting the print right in the darkroom, it was never anything like as bad as trying to get a decent print out of the Epson printer the magazines conned me into buying. Sad
scotdiver e2
11 260 1 Scotland
21 Jul 2008 12:15PM
Jon

My first exposure to photography and darkroom work was standing beside my father watching the magic of an image appear in the developer, surrounded by the warm glow of the safelight. That was in the 60's and it's impact is still with me today.

As a small boy it was also an upside to have the bath occupied with prints washing Smile

I've had various darkroom set-ups over the years, but never been able to dedicate space to a permanent darkroom. I eventually gave up on printing and concentrated on colour work with slides, plus the family photographs on colour negative film. This left a "b/w" hole in my creativity.

Now with the quality available from pigment and paper printing options from Epson, Canon, and HP I'm looking forward to generating prints again. Mainly black and white, but with the option to create colour when I want. I can not see going back to darkroom work again.

As for the magic of seeing prints develop - well my children now are just as happy to see their images coming off the family inkjet printer, and the bathroom is free as well.

Cheers
Rob
mad-dogs e2
12 2.2k England
21 Jul 2008 12:28PM
Still popular among ferret breeders and whippet racers up north Smile

Winding on


Quote:winding-on
Winding-on is a community darkroom for Black & White 35mm photography in Huddersfield, We have been operating from an old mill for several years,and have run 2 successful summer courses that culmunated in an exhibition of work recently shown at Huddersfield University.
Winding-on is a social enterprise, in the processs of gaining charitable status. We are looking for further funding and also for people to become involved on any level..volunteers/ club members/ trustees/ potential students/groups or individual wanting to use facilities or attend courses. We will soon have a web site, or can be contacted via this forum. Looking forward to hear from anyone interested.



Redeye have a mobile darkroom.
21 Jul 2008 12:31PM

Quote:.......the vast majority either took their colour film to Boots or......


Yes, I did, but before that (and during) I printed my own B&W photographs and derived great enjoyment from so doing.

I no longer have a darkroom, or the inclination to use one. After 45 years, or so, I decided to move on to other interests.

My photography did then become solely colour prints D&P by Boots.

jas
Kris_Dutson e2
12 8.2k 1 England
21 Jul 2008 12:47PM

Quote: the traditional methods - do they still have a part to play in modern photography?


As far as print quality goes then possibly. Although most high end digital SLRs can now produce quality prints good enough for 99% of uses, and will soon be as good as, if not better, than film.

For speed, efficiency and cost effectiveness, then no, definitely not.

For the sheer fun and sense of achievement plus the great British nostalgia factor, definitely yes. After all, we still drive old cars, steam locos, traction engines; fly old planes; indulge in ancient crafts just to keep them alive and for the pure enjoyment. But in this modern, fast moving and time efficient world, you wouldn't dream of doing it every day.

Wink
keith selmes
11 7.1k 1 United Kingdom
21 Jul 2008 1:16PM
Well, yes. People still have candlelit dinners, don't they ?

I like having a real fire, but I would not like to give up electricity and go back to having to light a fire just to boil a kettle.
Nowadays its just a flick of two switches, and there's a light on, and kettle boiling, and no messing with matches and wicks or kindling.

Likewise digital photography is convenient, but I like using film, when there's time for it. To ask about moving on from chemical processing is like asking about moving on from candles and log fires, literally a non sequitur.

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