Thursday, January 15, 2009

to darkroom or not to darkroom

When I was living in California (Palo Alto specifically) I took a couple photography classes at the SF Photo Center at the Harvey Milk Recreational Arts building (currently under renovation). One class was on creative night photography and the other was on B&W darkroom techniques. The creative night photo one was a bit of a bust, but it did give me an excuse to get out and take pictures. The B&W class on the other hand was a lot of fun and got me my first taste of working in a darkroom.

Now I am faced with a bit of a dilema. I have a couple film bodies that I am trying to use more - a Holga and a Yashica Mat 124g TLR. Both shoot medium format 120 film. So far I've only shot a few rolls of film and of those rolls only have been able to look at 36 developed frames (scans of the negatives that came with the processed film). The challenge with film, at least for me, is getting the images either into my computer for processing and printing, or getting quality proofs made then enlargements of the ones that I like. To get from negative to print I could either scan the images in (via a scanner at home or a high quality scanner at a lab) or I could take my B&W negatives to the darkroom and print them myself.

I found a darkroom nearby that I could use - it's in a community college and for about $350 I would have access to the darkroom M-F until 10pm and Saturdays from noon to 4pm. For roughly the same amount I could purchase a scanner and be able to use it whenever I want to, but I lose that visceral experience of the darkroom. I do gain the ability to shoot color film though, which is a plus.

Dilemas, dilemas...

Anyway, here are three images I took while waiting for my class to start at the Harvey Milk center in SF a few years ago.


emporium51 said...

ah yes. Tuff decision! Being in the darkroom is like nothing else in this world. It's a great high I must say, and very intimate. BUt then again...having access to your negatives digitally is also way more convenient and cost efficient plus you can do other stuff if the "digital darkroom" that you couldn't do in a traditional darkroom. I'm torn. I would both but treat the traditional darkroom as a luxury-a present to yourself when you have a little extra money to pay for that huge fee to use the community darkroom. (or better yourself a darkroom....aaahh that would be the ticket right there's in my long term plans one day.) peace bro.