Did you know that there is a necessary HUGE/GINORMOUS piece of equipment used in darkroom film developing and printing??!
I didn't either.
Instructor Mike calls this beast of a machine, an enlarger.
He tells me it's like an INSIDE-OUT CAMERA,
This is what exposes light through the negative onto your mashingly expensive print paper.
This printing paper can be glossy, satin or something appropriately more satin. I have chosen satin printing paper to work with -as a newbie- because it does not show fingerprints so glaringly. Well, yes, right about now you can imagine me banging things louder than everyone else, running into walls and too blind to see like everyone else in the red lights. Charming for everyone.
Okay, so I have my first developed roll of film.
I tell my friends it's like cooking meth without a suit! I am so proud. I did a fantastic job the first time.
You have to enclose yourself in this weird little closed room with absolutely no light and then proceed to pry off 35mm film plastic rolls with can openers. Who knew? Then load the film onto plastic rolling holders without messing up or your film will turn to shit in the chemical processing/developing. All this while being completely, fantastically blind, in the dark.
I have my first print of a crappy photo of a sublime guitar my boyfriend owns--a TIME guitar.
In the first one you can see the gradations of light used (it was supposed to be a test-strip, but well, I'm literally throwing money everywhere! Why not?!). In the next you can see what I finally chose.
Guess what? I did, indeed, use this enlarger and now have an early idea of how to use this INSIDE-OUT CAMERA! ("Go shoot!" Instructor Mike says as we leave.)
Ok. I will.
I spent three more hours in the darkroom last night -- AND I STILL DIDN'T GET IT RIGHT!
Keep in mind, this is all work on the same photo.
I also spent four hours in my beginning term's last Saturday lab working on the ONE print.
I DID, in fact, learn a new skill, however. Rockin'.
I learned how to burn.
Here's the story behind the photo...I went to a large protest in downtown Portland, OR (home). 500+ people-- we all marched together protesting the grand jury's decision not to indict the cop who killed #EricGarner, and also in support of the growing #blacklivesmatter movement. It was awsum.
Well, I only took my little $15 Vivitar, completely manual, film camera to shoot pics.
And, well, I'm a beginning photographer so I didn't expose my film very well, but I got this BAM! of a photo! A white woman holding a sign that read:
WHITE SILENCE IS VIOLENCE
Except that I just cannot get the words on her sign to burn-up.
Instructor Mike's words of the night.. "Burn don't lie."
In the two photos below you can see the myriad of prints I've tried to make. First using black and white light on the enlarger and then going to filters (colored light), and learning to burn. I expose the print on one filter/f-stop setting, and then use an entirely different one while I burn her sign.
Check it out. In the left-most print you can see one try where a small portion of the sign literally looks burned. And, well, it was.
Burn don't lie.
My first time in the darkroom, I was a little nervous. I didn't know what to expect, really, and I was not only afraid I'd do something wrong, but perhaps be repulsed by the whole "darkroom thing" and never want to return. I was allured by a sort of romantic, mysterious lead. Darkroom red lights, chemicals, a secret knowing, an art of light out of dark. It all seemed like some interesting chance at a membership into a particular art world. The idea fascinated me. What if, upon learning the whole process, I just didn't like it?! Then what? I wanted to know this and be good at it.
It turns out the learning curve is probably as long as you make it. Your interest can go as deep as you want.
So my first class "for beginners" at PCC began. I liked the instructor, Mike, and I liked our first assignment: TO GO OUT AND SHOOT. INTERPRET FALL. SHOOT. SHOOT. SHOOT.
Here began what I now call my Wanderings.
Here is not a film photo from my first day...but a lasting, cool impression.
Once in awhile, well, BAM!