Sunday, April 27, 2014

Old school


This, children of the digital photography age, is how it used to be done.

I built this darkroom in what was formerly a coal bin in the half of a two-story double we rented for a couple of years at 4829 N. College Ave., in Indianapolis.

Wanting to keep dust from falling onto my equipment, I put up a drywall ceiling, then painted it with gloss enamel paint to maximize the illumination from the safelights. Nobody told me what a bad idea that was. I had to discover it myself about 80 percent through the painting process when I stumbled upstairs to answer the phone and discovered I was helplessly stoned on the toluene paint fumes. I finished the job with a fan circulating the air.

The two black oval things hanging from the ceiling are speakers, so I could listen to music while I worked.

The enlarger was a Besseler 23C, fitted with a Schneider Componon lens – top of the line stuff – and I used big 11x14 trays for the developer, stop, and fixer.

I had good equipment, but I never had the patience to get really good at photographic print making with its dodging and burning.

I built another darkroom when we moved up the street to 5009 N. College and didn’t repeat my toluene mistake.

I sold my darkroom stuff to an ambitious young journalist when I moved into an apartment in Carmel. I don’t regret it and there is nothing about film photography that I miss.

As a wise man once told me, the past is always a lesser state of development. No pun intended.

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