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How many started with their love of Black and White in th Darkroom

Nick_w 12 4.3k 99 England
6 Aug 2010 10:59AM
I had a conversation a few weeks back with someone on EPZ. How many of us who love B&W started out by getting our hands dirty, annoying the rest of the family stinking the bathroom out - putting it out of use for hours. (My wife may say little has changed with the last bit).

So my guestions are:

Did you start out in a wet darkroom?
What Is your preference B&W (inc. toned etc, etc) or Colour or no preference?

Please try keep the answers clear as I will try to collate.

P.S. Any takers for my enlarger, plus stuff not been used in about 12 years the boxes a bit moth eaten after been stored in the garage.

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gary.d 18 137 United Kingdom
6 Aug 2010 11:19AM
It was more a necessity than anything else. B&W was far cheaper and easier to DIY in those days. I hated having to set everything thing up and then clear it away again. I too still have my enlarger and printing equipment but I could never go back now that digital is well and truly established.
MikeA 15 1.3k England
6 Aug 2010 12:00PM
Slides and colour, never did get around to B&W, still got all the kit, might be usefull if I ever get to producing some digital negatives........... one dayWink
cameracat 16 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
6 Aug 2010 12:08PM
Not sure I could return to spending all day in a darkroom with only a safety lamp for company ....Smile

Or in the days before the drum dryer arrived, Having 50 to 100 " 10X8 prints laid all around my apartment drying.....Grin One had to walk very carefully between rows of them to get from room to room.....Sad

Did I enjoy it..? Guess I must have done at the time......Grin

However working for a busy wedding & studio photographer, Where you had to take your turn locked in the box where the film dev tanks lived for hours on end, Not even a red safety lamp for company, Just the black nothingness of no light what so ever, Groping for the spools to load film onto, Hoping the thermostats kept everything at the right temprature.......Etc Etc Etc.........No thanks, I really don't want to get that involved again......Grin

Ilford film & Papers, Straight mono grayscale is still a favourite though, Some subjects just don't look right in colour......Wink

Might for nostalgic reasons set up a small darkroom again, But its not on the top of my " Things To Do Before I Croak " list.
franken Plus
17 5.1k 4 United Kingdom
6 Aug 2010 12:09PM
I started photography by taking and processing black and white. I started with a contact printer that you just placed under a light and guessed the exposure.

Money was tight at the time but I managed to progress to what was known as a Jumbo printer. It was about six inches tall if I remember correctly?

You placed postcard sized printing paper in the bottom. The negative was placed at the top and over a crude lens. You then moved a household light across the top of it to expose the paper. It worked quite well.

I then converted part of my bedroom to a darkroom and if I remember correctly my first real enlarger was a Gnome Beta 35.

I did all my own processing(b/w) for well over a decade.

I never toned my prints.

User_Removed 16 455 13 United Kingdom
6 Aug 2010 12:17PM
I started with a little darkroom work, but was never able to get my own darkroom set up, so had to rely on good labs - we had one local to me for a while.

For colour I used slides so that I got what I took and not what the processor thought I wanted.

I did some more B&W film recently, developing and scanning.

I think working with film does help you to get a grasp of what is going to happen to the scene when it is turned to greyscale.

There's a magic about the chemical process, but I can't say I'm sorry to have the digital option now.
Nick_w 12 4.3k 99 England
6 Aug 2010 12:29PM
The reason I started the thread was in the conversation I had, it was suggested that most that grew up only in the digital age bypass B&W in favour of colour and that only those that got their hands dirty still had that love of a good mono print.

To me there is something about B&W that can rarely be seen in colour.

So to get back to my original questions:

Did you start out in a wet darkroom? Yes
What Is your preference B&W (inc. toned etc, etc) or Colour or no preference? B&W

Or is it that those who favour monos have more of an artistic bent than many? After all it was one of the first forms of manipulation (sorry Jools Wink ) all that dodging and burning, using soft focus on the enlarger - its even where the term unsharp mask originated. And swapping skies didn't start with the advent of photoshop!
User_Removed 16 17.9k 8 Norway
6 Aug 2010 12:32PM

Quote:How many started with their love of Black and White in the Darkroom

Me. Grin
sut68 16 2.0k 76 England
6 Aug 2010 1:04PM
Did you start out in a wet darkroom?
Yes, and loved it!!!

What Is your preference B&W (inc. toned etc, etc) or Colour or no preference?
No real preference as it really depends upon the subject and the result I'm after nowadays.

Back in the day it had to be black & white as that allowed me to develop and print my own shots relatively cheaply, but then I got access to a colour set-up and never really returned to B&W until digital. Nowadays with digital I have the flexibility to make that decision in the field without having to worry too much about whether I have the right film with me or loaded and at the right ASA/ISO for the situation, or if I need to uprate it etc.

Couldn't see me going back to the darkroom now Grin
User_Removed 16 455 13 United Kingdom
6 Aug 2010 1:11PM
Yes - my introduction to photography was in wet darkroom.

I love B&W and spend more time with it than colour - I don't know whether it's a preference, but probably.
HouseMartin 10 193 1 England
6 Aug 2010 1:41PM
Yep, started in a wet darkroom; and for the same reasons as stated above - cheap.

I had/still have a Zenith portable enlarger (the base is a case in which it all fits). There was a sense of achievement in getting what you'd taken to print. And mono always felt more 'real' if that makes sense. For colour I always used slide and projected, that was usually holiday snaps. I do still develop 120 film when having a play with old cameras and it's still great to get them out of the tank and see 'negatives'.

Do I have a preference, not markedly these days but I do run a mono conversion past many shots just to see.

Paul Morgan 18 19.4k 6 England
6 Aug 2010 1:46PM

Quote:Did you start out in a wet darkroom?

Within a year of taking up photography back in the early Eighties.

Quote:What Is your preference B&W (inc. toned etc, etc) or Colour or no preference

Grainy B&W, especially enjoyed using fast films on bright sunny days, think about it, today who in the right mind would bump up the iso on a modern dslr when all that is needed is a 100 iso Smile

Quote:Not sure I could return to spending all day in a darkroom with only a safety lamp for company

Me neither, but I can see myself getting a developing tank, chemicals and a changing bag, I just can`t keep up with all the film I`m using these days.
Nick_w 12 4.3k 99 England
6 Aug 2010 1:50PM
I will echo the comments about not going back to the darkroom. Nearly 30 years in Chemical Industry I'm sure is one of the reasonms I seem to get so many allergies these days
ripleysalien 13 1.2k 11 United Kingdom
6 Aug 2010 7:09PM
I started in a 4ft x 3ft cupboard under my mums stairs, ended up with a 16ft x8ft x8ft wagon back darkroom in her drive, loved every minute of it, I would shoot 10-20 36 exp rolls most weekends, baught in bulk and loaded onto cassets.
I knew my films inside out and could push/pull and alter without a thought, took me 15 minutes to change the focus pattern on my 7d the other day, oh how times change.
I would love to go back but it seems such a faff on now.
fatherpie 11 18 12 England
29 Aug 2010 8:23PM
So many chords being struck here ... Zenit portable enlarger in case ... improvised darkrooms ... hours with a safe light for company ... bulk film ... happy days but if I'm honest I won't be returning just yet - but never say never Smile

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