October 6th, 2010

This whole darkroom thing

After Monday's class we had homework. Our first homework a couple of weeks ago was to go shoot a roll of film. We could mostly shoot whatever we wanted, but we had to do one shot that had an 18% gray card in it as well as a range of light and dark colors. I did this shot, which I call still life with gray card, envelope, and black cap:


I knew when I shot it that the details on the cap would be important later on, as would the textures on the floor.

This week's assignment was to print that image at medium contrast with the gray card printed at 18% gray in the output. This isn't quite as straightforward as it seems, since you have to deal with exposure times and aperture for the specific paper you're using. It's a sensible, straightforward process, though. Once that was done we had to do the same thing at low-contrast and high-contrast.

I went to the darkroom after work last night and breezed through this. The techniques just make sense to me. I spent some time screwing around with a couple of other images, then I was going to process the film from the Holga but bailed instead... loading the film onto the reels seemed like it was going to be challenging, and I would be running up against closing time.

Tonight I went back and cooked up the Holga shoot. I must say that I enjoy printing much more than processing-- at least right now, processing is just following a bunch of tedius instructions wtih no real creativity or decisionmaking involved. Booooooring. At least when I'm printing there are decisions to make. Plus, processing prints is a lot faster than processing film, and there's the whole fast-gratification thing of watching the prints come to life in the developer.

I expected the Holga shots to be mostly overexposed since I was shooting ISO 400 film in daylight, and they are. One roll is nearly-hopeless-- it probably was exposed to light at some point during the cycle. The other one is overexposed but recoverable. I was able to make a passable contact sheet of it tonight.

I'm more than a little bit amused at the fact that I've spent the last three nights in a darkroom, and I'm ready to go back for more. I wasn't expecting that at all. I'm pretty sure I'd never want my own darkroom, though-- I really like having someone else do all the mixing and cleaning and setup for me, and having relatively expensive stuff like washers and dryers at my disposal.

Unfortunately, after having medium-format negatives in my hand, I really *really* want a good 6x6 camera. Or a 6x7. Sigh.