beware of darkness

A different kind of blog post this time… had my first darkroom experience today. Until now I was only scanning my negatives and then printed them via Inkjet… about 2 weeks ago I found out that there is a photo club where I work – who run a fully equipped darkroom… yesterday I got an introduction to the place and today I had a day off to actually start using it… I was reading the last couple of weeks endless articles and watched youtube videos on darkroom techniques and how-to’s.. I ordered paper and the required chemistry in the meantime… theoretically I was prepared, but reality hardly ever follows theory, so I was very curious how it would be….

I loved it right away – I have a million things to learn and to further experiment, but just the way of working is wonderful… the darkness, the excitement seeing the image vaguely appear in the developer… the moment of truth when you switch on the light and see the image… for some reason I feel more proud of a picture that required no modifications via any digital means… photography in its original sense….

I read a lot of forum posts on “inkjet vs wet print”  and most of them had the conclusion that inkjet with pigment inks and good paper is better, sharper, cleaner than wet prints… and from what I have seen today this may be true… but still the wet print seems to breathe and live… compared to the perfect and clean inkjet print…

attached some pictures.. the “grainy”  ones are on Ilford Art Paper… in real life they have a beautiful texture, once scanned it looks more like grain on the screen… one print I used RC paper without a texture, which is easier to scan, but looks (and feels) less nice in real life….

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14 Comments

  1. 11. November 2011 / 20:02

    WoW, congrats 🙂 looks amazing… one day this is also what I would like to do.

  2. 11. November 2011 / 20:08

    Jan, ist das nicht ein tolles Gefühl? Man hat das Gefühl “richtige” Fotos gemacht zu haben. Von Anfang bis zum Ende. Beim Digitalen gibt es so viele Ecken an denen man Anfassen muss bis es einem gefällt, dass man sich oft übertrieben gesagt schon als kleiner Betrüger fühlt. 😉

    Und es ist eine schöne Arbeit für den sowieso dunklen Winter.

    Ich kann Deine Gefühle da nachvollziehen und freue mich auch schon auf meine nächste Dunkelkammer-Session. 😀

  3. 11. November 2011 / 20:09

    “Gone over to the dark side, he has!”
    Glad to see you taking the darkroom course…

  4. 11. November 2011 / 21:53

    Many congratulations, Jan. Now the analogue circle is complete. From camera to print without any digital intervention. Pure photography 🙂
    Treat yourself to some fibre paper. It can’t be beat although getting it to dry flat can be tricky. It makes me sad to think of all of the lovely papers when I was printing back in the 90’s that are no longer in production. Oh well, we use what is available, the same for film I guess. R.I.P Plus-X.

    • John Hoobler
      24. November 2011 / 00:34

      I just wanted to respond to Nasir comment. He is completely right with his Full Circle statement. It really is an amazing process once you have eliminated the digital factor. Developing your own film and photographs changes the photographic experience completely from what you get when you use digital. Completely or partially. To have total control over your image from shooting to printing is an incredible feeling. Good luck on your new adventure in photography.

  5. 11. November 2011 / 22:46

    Must be nearly 15 years since I used a darkroom. I was never any good at it, but loved the experience.

    Great images by the way.

  6. 12. November 2011 / 00:53

    Very cool!
    No matter how technically advanced inject prints might be there’s still something magical to wet prints-the same as shooting film to scan or using a digital sensor.
    Printing in the darkroom on its’s own is an art form on its own.
    Kudos!

  7. 12. November 2011 / 04:32

    Congrats!! It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a darkroom, but I still have all my equipment (in storage). I miss making my own prints. I hope you enjoy as much as I did. Best to you. Keep up the great work! I always enjoy visiting your blog.

  8. 12. November 2011 / 06:28

    Isn’t the darkroom the best? It’s not only an amazing place to pursue your art, but also escape reality and destress. It’s cool to hear about other peoples experiences in the darkroom, keep at it!

  9. Paul H
    12. November 2011 / 16:31

    Thanks for puting these up! I can’t wait till my 4×5 arrives and I can contact print from B&W negatives.

    From what I understand, as far as the technical side goes, contact>inject>wet print. Have you found this from your experience? The other advantage is that contact printing means saving on having to scan in a high-end photo scanner.

    -Paul

  10. AndreasD
    13. November 2011 / 09:03

    Schön, dass nun der analoge Kreis geschlossen ist.
    Das, was Deine Bilder aussmacht, ist nur durch analoge Aufnahmen möglich. Durch die digitale “Endbearbeitung” geht davon leider wieder ein Stück verloren. Durch das printen in der Duka werden deine Bilder erst “vollendet”. Super.
    Ich selbst fotografiere mit einer Voigtländer Avus 9×12 (Bj 1926) auf Adox Filmmaterial und kontakte auf Foma.

    Mir persönlich gefallen die texturierten Oberflächen nicht, weil drunter der Qualitätseindruck leidet, der gerade beim GF auch erhalten bleiben sollte. Textur gehört für mich eher zu den Alternativverfahren wie Cyanotypien o.a..
    Nochmals Gratulation zu diesem Schritt und generell zu Deinen grandiosen Aufnahmen.

    Andreas

  11. 3. December 2011 / 16:59

    Images 4 and 5 are just great.

  12. 17. December 2011 / 23:59

    I, too, just started printing in the darkroom. I like it more than digital printing. I like the slow methodical approach to photography and the darkroom is an apt extension to that.

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