Wednesday, February 18, 2009


An amber glow illuminates the corner of my work space.  The light emitted by this "safelight" barely registers as I first enter the darkroom.  I move through the cramped space intuitively until my eyes adjust to the dim surroundings.  A handcrafted dodging wand sits to the left of my easel just below the enlargers timer, to the right are a few loose filters and a grain magnifier.  With chemistry in the trays and a negative carrier placed into the enlarger, it's time to begin.
I've always felt that the darkroom was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the photographic process.  Once the door shuts and you're alone in the darkness, the smell of chemistry in the air and a world of possibility in every negative.  It's what you do in in this room that sets the mood of the image you've captured in the camera, it give the image life, depth, and emotion.  More light and the print is darker... less and it's lighter, contrast can be controlled by changing the color of the light or by a combination of exposure and time in the developer... not that mystifying really, but the results can be remarkable.
I'm not a technical printmaker, I prefer a more organic approach.  I watch as the paper rocks gently in the tray, pulling it at just the right moment and carefully placing it into a water bath and finally the fixer.  The prints are washed, toned, and washed once again.  As they undergo their final wash, I can't help but to fish them out of the water to take another look.  The sepia toner stains my fingernails, a testament to the time spent in the dark and a reminder I will carry with me for the next couple of days. 

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