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Experience in the dark

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  • Experience in the dark

    I'm wondering how many of our users have spent any significant time printing the old-fashioned way in a darkroom with Dektol and Ilfobrom and all that wonderful stuff?
    Yes, lots, but b/w only
    Lots of b/w and color
    Lots of color only
    I've done it, but not very much
    Learn by teaching
    Take responsibility for learning

  • #2
    Hi all!
    My first photo job was dopeing by hand b&w Christmas cards. And they all had to match. I have spent lots of time in darkrooms. The stains on my hands has finally gone away, but on a cloudy day I can still smell hypo.



    • #3
      Working in a darkroom/photo lab has been my "real" profession for almost 20 years. Film and paper processing has been mainly by machine (Colenta, Kreonite, Hope, etc.) , but I have spent zillions of hours slaving over (or under as the case may be) a hot enlarger (mainly Omega & Durst)

      What I've done has been on a large retail scale, however, and is a much different animal than working in a home darkroom (which I have more limited experience with).

      (I've also had a lot of experience with minilab setups (Agfa & Noritsu) and have been employed in the past as a district manager for a chain of 1-hour labs).


      • #4
        My aunt and uncle run a business from their home called "tree frog press, and the have a darkroom there. So far I've only seen it from the edge of the room, but I'll have to ask them to give me a tour and show me the basics sometime.

        - David


        • #5
          Many, many moons ago I took an intro BW photography / darkroom class at a community college. Learned a lot; twas fun.

          Funny how 25+ years later those experiences have come in handy during my unending quest to assimilate the in/outs of PS...
          Sharpen (focus), blur (unfocused), contast, dodge, burn, "do over," etc.
          Last edited by DannyRaphael; 06-14-2002, 08:57 PM.


          • #6
            I had a home darkroom, doing almost all B&W film processing and printing (very little color). I also worked in a lab for a couple of years running an *old* Kreonite roller transport processor (that was a real dog). This was used strictly for E-6 processing. I also did custom B&W printing for the same lab. If things really got tight, I might slip into the color department from time to time, but never enough to really know what I was doing. I do miss the home darkroom, but I'll probably never have another one.



            • #7
              Started out in high school learning how to print and develop b&w negs & print. Graduated to college working on durst enlargers and learning the history etc about photography. I remember many a days loading film in the bathroom and using my mother kitchen sink to process my film for an assignment. Don't agitate the film tank to fast.

              Moved up to working in commerical photo labs. Printed for many famous photographers and met many famous models. Used 4x5 and 8x10 enlargers and then graduated to durst digital lambdas.

              But, nothing beats the old fashion way


              • #8
                Years ago I had my own "homemade" darkroom (a cupboard!) with a very antiquated enlarger - the results were less than perfect, but it was great experience and now that I've had my digital camera stolen (the one in the avatar!) I'm back to film and yearning for those darkroom days again ... sadly, I don't think we can get all the kit/chemicals here in Zim.


                • #9
                  Part of my schooling was getting my "hands" in B/W film developing using the trays. It was just a brief stint, and the rest of the film I developed was fed into "the machine" and I just waited for the output.


                  • #10
                    I learned to work in a darkroom (b&w) while in the army (1952-54) and after discharge, worked in industrial darkrooms at Chrysler and Ford (I lived near Detroit at the time). I then became a newspaper photographer where one had to develop and print their own work. That plus approximately twenty years of home darkroom work. Digital cameras and Photoshop finally brought me into the light.


                    • #11
                      Thanks to the good old USN, started in 1958, B&W, then on to color slides and color prints. Did what we called still photography (thats with just a regular camera, 8x10, 4x5, 120 and 35mm), aerial (with film in extreme sizes, either 10 inch wide by 500 feet or 5 inch wide by 6000 ft), lots of copy work up to 20x24, then at my last command, movie printing and duplication.
                      Since I retired from all that and opened my own business, we had a full service darkroom for about 15 years then switched to digital because we wanted to get more into event work. Also the EPA regs were getting to us. We had to move (or close down) the darkroom at one point. In this county you cannot have a darkroom in a building that is serviced by a septic tank. There has been talk of not allowing any commerical photo lab to have access to any of the sewer systems also.
                      Proper disposel of used photo chemicals is very expensive and is subject to a bunch of rules and regs. Just something to be aware of.


                      • #12

                        Five years ago I took an introductory course in photography and b&w processing at our local college.

                        My daughter and I went off to Ireland for 3 years and unfortunately, I wasn't able to take any courses there because of the cost and time commitment. Black and white hand processing is really an art. I never got as far as using filters. I used natural light when shooting, partially because I couldn't remember what the teacher had taught us about using flash! (Terrible isn't it!).

                        It's another hobby that I can lose several hours without realizing what time it is. I think there is nothing sweeter than the first time you see your sheet of paper dip into the developing tray and the magic of an image appears!

                        After doing a few spotting touchups, I can honestly say I'd rather touch up in Photoshop than by hand!



                        • #13
                          Re:Experience in the dark

                          I started as a teenager in the late 1960's - beginning of the 70's with an Opemus 6 by 6 cm enlarger equipped with a Nikon elnikkor objective.
                          It was only bw work, 6 x 9 cm and 35 mm negatives. Mainly Ilford paper with corresponding developers and fixers.

                          Colour equipment was very expensive and therefore beyond the reach for a teen-ager, well at least for me and my friends.

                          For the last couple of decades I have used dias-film (Kodachrome) or Kodak negative films all processed at professional firms.

                          Today: digital darkroom with scanners.


                          • #14
                            I took a community college class about 5 years ago -- never developed my own (can't roll the film in total darkness and not interested in learning), but got a lot of practice printing b/w only. Loved seeing that image appear on the paper! The experience taught me some of what could be done AFTER the image is captured, but taught me a lot about how important it is to spend time and thought BEFORE pressing the shutter. I already was using Photoshop, and the lab experience helped me understand that PShop was doing the same things that photographer/printers had been doing for decades -- but without the smell of chemicals (for some, the chemicals are a turn-on -- not for me, however).


                            • #15
                              Lots of b/w darkroom experience for the high school yearbook, but not much since then. I never imagined that my home darkroom I always dreamed I would have would be my computer!


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