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The End of the Darkroom?


26 Jul 2008 2:54PM

Quote:I've spent hundreds of hours in a smelly darkroom developing films & printing them & I'm quite happy never to have to do it again!
Rog



I have empathy with this view, although I quite enjoyed the darkroom work at the at the time.

jas

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Snapper 9 3.8k 3 United States Outlying Islands
26 Jul 2008 3:45PM

Quote:using an escalating amount of what I understand to be unenvironmentaly unfriendly chemicals and paper can also have a mental drain..


While it is true that there are specialist processes using nasties (platinum, palladium, selenium, etc), the vast majority of B&W chemicals are less harmful than the contents of your cleaning cupboard (unless you're using Ecover type materials). There also used to be papers with cadmium in them, but again that is all long gone, so few worries there either.

One thing that may be coming through on this thread is that those who haven't used a darkroom for many years are not aware of the advances that have been made to improve the experience, particularly things like odourless stop and fixer?
Graysta 9 1.1k England
26 Jul 2008 4:00PM
Odourless stop & fixer.tut,tut,whatever next.
Always remember at school being able to use the darkroom as part of the photography club, but the smell of the fixer always gave it away on you hands & clothes when youd had a skive there.
26 Jul 2008 4:01PM

Quote:One thing that may be coming through on this thread is that those who haven't used a darkroom for many years are not aware of the advances that have been made to improve the experience, particularly things like odourless stop and fixer?


Guilty as charged.

But I still don't want to do darkroom work again.

jas
Graysta 9 1.1k England
26 Jul 2008 4:03PM
I still do some and still like it.
Graham
KenTaylor e2
10 3.0k 2 United Kingdom
26 Jul 2008 4:09PM

Quote:advances that have been made to improve the experience, particularly things like odourless stop and fixer?


I cant imagine a darkroom without the aroma of hypo.
And you are quite right about cleaning products. A research chemist friend of mine who is now retired often had raised eyebrows at the contents of many cleaning products.
Ken
keith selmes 11 7.1k 1 United Kingdom
26 Jul 2008 4:13PM
I like the smells. Its worth bearing in mind though, I don't have to endure smells and stains day in day out, the odd time that I do it, if not quite exotic, it is something out of the ordinary.

From an environmental point of view, I do seriously think that computers and digital cameras are much worse, and obviously, this being a web site, we all use at least one of those.
thefizz 10 353
26 Jul 2008 7:10PM

Quote: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.



Hi jonnieephotozine, your question is too vague as there are so many types of photography and I do believe digital is best for some. Plus there are professional users as well as hobbyists and that can make a huge difference to how one answers.

As a photo hobbyist I have been lucky to have various Darkrooms over the last fifteen years and I am currently setting up my fourth.

Speed is not an issue for me as I enjoy the time spent on my hobby. I'm not looking for any sort of instant gratification. Some people love driving vintage cars. Yes they may be slower and less efficient than the modern car but the experience is more enjoyable to them.

I sell Darkroom produced prints at craft fairs etc and sell on the basis that they are individually hand made. This helps me stand out from other people selling inkjet prints.

I have nothing against anyone using digital but it simply doesn't interest me. What annoys me is when I'm told I should be using digital methods when I already spend too much time glued to the computer at work and at home as it is. Its like asking an artist to drop his paint and brushes and design his pictures on a computer instead. Not really the same.

With regard to the environment, as already said there is much worse substances under your kitchen sink. I think the smelly chemicals complaint is more of a myth. If they did bother me Id just get the odourless ones. The making of computers, printers, cartridges etc., as well as the disposal of these should be considered by those so concerned with the environment.

As long as Darkroom materials and chemicals are available, I'll continue to enjoy my hobby. If they disappear some day then I'll take up painting or sketching etc.

Peter
Kris_Dutson 12 8.2k 1 England
26 Jul 2008 9:05PM

Quote:I sell Darkroom produced prints at craft fairs etc and sell on the basis that they are individually hand made. This helps me stand out from other people selling inkjet prints.


I respect your opinion, but I class digital prints as had made too. After all, I still have to calibrate ny work flow etc. I can understand a one off print being unique, and a finely crafted product, but I find that if a customer buys a print, then the next one wants theirs to look the same.

Horses for courses. Smile

And besides, room humidity and temperature can affect a digital print so they may not always be identical. Wink
keith selmes 11 7.1k 1 United Kingdom
26 Jul 2008 9:14PM
There's no way I could class inkjet prints as hand made.
Sure, they're individually made by the photographer/artist, which to me is important, but there's a world of difference.
Making a print with light and chemicals, you do work with your hands, and its more of an alchemical craft, compared with working through the computer and keyboard.
If you go to alternative processes, thats even more true.
I was one of those people who thought they'd never give up the darkroom.
Then I became allergic to one of the chemicals, my eyes became so swollen I couldn't see out of them.
Now when I think of all those hours spent up in a loft, boiling a kettle to keep the temperatures right, waking through the night when the prints drying on the tiles in the bathroom clattered into the bath, discovering a hair trapped in the dried emulsion and having to do it all again - well I just shudder.
I might be pants at Photoshop but there's no way I'd go back to film Smile
Merl
joolsb 10 27.1k 38 Switzerland
27 Jul 2008 8:39AM
I've never made a wet print in my life. Life's too short. Doesn't stop me using film, though.
Paul Morgan e2
13 16.1k 6 England
27 Jul 2008 10:43AM

Quote:I can understand a one off print being unique, and a finely crafted product


If it involved anything more than a quick flash under an enlarger it will be unique Smile

Decent dodging and burning can require a fair bit of skill and duplicating a second print even more, would not be easy getting the exact some result.

Digital on the other hand with presets, actions and batch processing Smile


Quote:I've never made a wet print in my life


I have recently and found myself strugling, out of practice Smile

Can see film and real proceesing being around for a fair while yet.
keith selmes 11 7.1k 1 United Kingdom
27 Jul 2008 10:50AM
I found making prints easy. Making good prints - maybe one day ...
Paul Morgan e2
13 16.1k 6 England
27 Jul 2008 10:56AM
For me it was the dodging and burning I simply could not get it flowing, had forgotten how fiddly it could be Smile

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