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Like vines seeking the trellis

By dudler
No, not Mrs Trellis of North Wales.

Quite an old image of Joceline, from a tour she did with Katie, who retired very shortly afterwards.

Continuing my blog-linked series of darkroom images, this was shot with a Hasselblad X-Pan set to the mundane 24x36 mode (rather than panoramic 24x65 view it was designed for.

We made this picture at the now-defunct Brightlights Studio in Derbyshire. I shot on colour negative film, and scanned the negatives later. This shot ended up cropped square, and with a little help from Nik Efex.

Back to the blog again - while I was printing on Wednesday afternoon, I realised the single most convincing reason for a dyed-in-the-wool digital photographer to try darkroom work (and the full monty, at that, with printing). Even if yo uare not entranced by seeing the image appear before your eyes, the experience will teach you something important about 'creative control' - that every decision should be a positive one.

In the darkroom, you have to decide everything. Exposure, composition (all over again), contrast range. With a digital caemra on Program mode, you make only two choices - what to point it at, and the unconscious one, to let the camera make all the other decisions...



Tags: Katie Portraits and people BrightLights Studio JocelineBrooke-Hamilton Film Friday blog link

Voters: Owdman, peterjay80, Jasper87 and 66 more

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Comments


Owdman Plus
4 6 10 United Kingdom
24 Apr 2020 8:29AM
I for one don't miss the hours in the darkroom John Smile You have got some good shots of these two together!
Norm

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Jasper87 Plus
10 2.5k 158 England
24 Apr 2020 8:35AM
To be fair these decisions can still be made in LR (or similar) when shooting in Raw. Having said that I can see the attraction of the alchemy in the darkroom.
bluesandtwos 10 426 1 England
24 Apr 2020 8:39AM
You never forget your first skydive and you never forget the magic of watching your first print 'come to life' in the developing dish.
Both magical experiences that should be had by everyone, at least once!Smile

I'm too old and wrinkly to go back to leaping from planes, and I love the convenience of digital and Pshop, but I am so pleased to have done both!GrinGrinGrin

Dave
dudler Plus
16 1.1k 1645 England
24 Apr 2020 8:44AM
I'm not, in any way, saying that everyone has to work in the darkroom all the time.

Simply that the experience makes you aware that there are decisions that you can take with Photoshop/Lightroom/Affinity/Gimp2, but that people very often fail to take.

All those dull mono conversions, because someone hasn't checked Levels after losing colour: all the wonky horizons when there's a rotate option that lets you adjust until it is as you want it. My point is that not choosing - simply letting the software decide when the white balance is right, when the horizon is level is missing out on control that puts you in charge of the process and the result.
24 Apr 2020 8:55AM
I agree with the above. I'm glad that I had a thorough grounding in the basics with camera and enlarger and there's a degree of nostalgia about the thought of putting a film back into my old 35mm and 2 square cameras. But I doubt that I'll ever do so. I think that part of it is that when I won my first photo competition, back in 1975, if you could take a sharp well exposed photo you were thought to be a good photographer. Nowadays that's all taken for granted. Photography has evolved and is the most popular it's ever been having diversified into so many directions. Darkroom work is no less valid and the classic styling by the likes of Trevor and Faye Yerbury will continue to stand alongside some of the amazingly creative digital imagery produced. The expression 'each to their own' has never never been truer and photography is the richer for it.
Howard2 4 3 3 United Kingdom
24 Apr 2020 9:06AM
I cut my teeth in a wet darkroom over decades, using Kodak TriX mainly, and this laid what foundations I have for current digital images. Those "wet" years remain of value photographically, but I would not be able or indeed want to go back to a wet darkroom. I do know men locally who have their own wet darkroom ... mybe I will pay them a visit when social isolations ends ..!
24 Apr 2020 9:43AM
I really like the title John, and the concept. Tropism always finds a way.

JohnSmile
24 Apr 2020 11:19AM
Gorgeous in every respect GrinGrinGrinGrinGrin
24 Apr 2020 11:37AM
Whom am I to argue with anyone regarding the darkroom. That's where Ansel Adams made his shots into great ones! I went to a college course about ten years ago and we had to learn how to process in the darkroom and I never cracked that procedure. I can see the difference between great images that were processed in the darkroom from a film camera and those taken and processed in the digital age. Returning to the photo it must be very difficult to simulate any genre of a dance in a still photo. To me it seems too static. But that is only my personal opinion. David
dark_lord Plus
16 2.5k 663 England
24 Apr 2020 12:27PM
I agreethat you need to make decisions in software too.
The big difference is that in traditional methods you have to make them (though you canstill end up with poor results if you fauil to learn) and with software you should. I think that's where many fall down as they like to consider that 'technology' is the answer - in a creative world it isn't. In much the same way as considering a new lens will improve your photography.
Saastad 1 16 5 Norway
24 Apr 2020 1:15PM
Great work John!

Arne Smile
Irishkate Plus
9 42 118 United Kingdom
24 Apr 2020 1:25PM
It would have good to have learned the process but I doubt there would be so many photographers around today with the ease of digital.
I admire and respect the knowledge of chemical processing and as you say
the use of control.
Love the balance of the ballerinas dresses -flared and straight.
KateGrin
Daisymaye Plus
11 23 16 Canada
24 Apr 2020 2:23PM
My motto is, try it all, you never know what you will be passionate about until you're passionate about it. Then keep trying more because it's all a fun experience. And everything leads somewhere.
24 Apr 2020 2:45PM
"It's equally hard and labor intensive to create an image on the computer as it is in a darkroom. Believe me.."
~ Jerry Uelsmann
bluesandtwos 10 426 1 England
24 Apr 2020 3:55PM

Quote:My motto is, try it all, you never know what you will be passionate about until you're passionate about it. Then keep trying more because it's all a fun experience. And everything leads somewhere.


What a brilliant statement! I may well print and frame a version of this for my study wall. Grin

Thank you.

Dave
dimalexa 3 4 Greece
24 Apr 2020 5:39PM
Having worked for 30 years in the darkroom and another 17 with digital photography, I still have the mentality of analog shooting with film, while photographing something. I try to resolve as many issues as possible at the time of shooting, thinking that subsequent interventions are not unlimited. When developing the film or printing paper in the enlarger, one bad photo has little chance to be corrected within acceptable limits. Today the prevailing view among most photographers is a "raw" file, about as is, and then we will correct it. And in addition there is the possibility of multiple shots of each pose, which with the film was very limited. My personal conclusion after all these years: if you have not learned in the darkroom, you will not learn the secrets of photography on the computer. To convert a color image in B&W is not the same as to have your mind, during shooting, how each color behaves in panchromatic B&W or, even more, in orthochromatic. But now, all these actions take place not consciously in most cases.
I like very much the framing in your photo, John!
Dimitris
JuBarney Plus
8 33 4 United Kingdom
24 Apr 2020 6:11PM
A beautiful image and
pleased to say that I experienced the dark room before digital but it was very time consuming.
Ju
mistere Plus
6 6 3 England
24 Apr 2020 8:10PM
I'm glad I don't have to start my car with a starting handle. Smile.
I wonder what Ansel Adam's and all the other photography pioneers would have created if they had the cameras and editing software that's available today.
Would Michelangelo's sculptures be as impressive if he had had some electric power tools ?.
Interesting ideas and comments.
Lovely image of Joceline and Katie.
Sorry for the late response, lots of power cuts today.
Dave.
capto Plus
8 6.2k 18 United Kingdom
24 Apr 2020 10:12PM
Nicely balanced and graceful.Smile
ivor

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