Sunday, December 07, 2008

Back to Basics

Today I spent the afternoon in a black and white photography darkroom for the first time in three years and probably on the third time since 2001. Didn't accomplish much by way of production but I did test out the facility and myself. I checked out OK--I can still roll film on to a developing reel and process it. I can still print. All the skills are still there.

Even better is that someone else runs the darkroom and deals with the chemicals. In this case the operator is The Evergreen State College, a state four year college. That gives me some confidence that chemicals will be handled so as not to poison the earth. The darkroom is the finest I've ever worked in, easily surpassing Phoenix Colleg, the Phoenix Center and the University of NM-Gallup Branch. I watched a woman processing incredibly large prints (60"x40" maybe). I've never been in a darkroom that could produce that size print and had never seen it done before. the and is open to the community on a fee basis.

I discovered the darkroom during my pre-Olympia research, which allowed me to donate my own darkroom kit to Tse Ho Tso Middle School in Fort Defiance, Arizona. It's the darkroom I have available and while I've stopped by a couple times to look at it, I never could seem to make the arrangements. Today I pulled it off. I was pleased to see that people still do black and white photography in a darkroom--it's not all digital. During the five hours I was there, at least 5 people were working in the darkroom; toward the end, it was very busy. I also verified that the photo paper that I put into storage seven years is still good.