Sunday, 21 September 2014


Two posts in one day? I kind of wanted to explain, to myself at any rate, why I'm only showing scans of photos that I've printed in my wee darkroom and not scans of negatives or even digital.

My interest in photography started out in the 1970s when The Brother and I would head out over the ditches and hedges and snap away till out hearts were content.  And then came the darkroom which was great - all those chemicals to play with and maybe even a decent print at the end of it.

But along came University, involving a move away from the homestead, and then a career.  Photography became even more of a pastime and although I usually had a camera about it didn't get much use.  I have a lot to thank the rise of digital photography for - it got me interested again.  But I don't like the digital workflow - too much time spent at a computer, which doesn't suit my Ankylosing Spondylitis.  And I just don't get the same buzz from using an app such as Photoshop or Lightroom as I did from film and darkroom work, which is much more physical and involving.  So I persuaded Mrs North East Liberties to let me ring-fence a small unused room in the house and started building a darkroom.  And what a wonderfully creative space a darkroom is.  I love working with the chemicals again, the smell of the paper as you open the box and the feeling of accomplishment when you handle the prints at the end of a session.  It's so much more rewarding than digital - well for me it is, anyway.

Now I know it doesn't really make sense to have a digital blog and then not upload digital images, or even some hybrid scheme using scans of negatives.  But I fancy keeping this place sacred to the printed negative, even if I have to scan the print in order to upload it and show it to all my readers haha.  The downside is that it's more expensive to print than scan (once you have a scanner that is). And of course it's more time-consuming, so there'll be fewer blog posts than if I was posting digital images.  But if you keep the prints small (e.g., 5x7) it's not that expensive and it's just a very enjoyable activity.

It's also good to have a few prints dotted around the house.  With digital I rarely printed any photographs.  With film, I print a lot and so the walls are gradually getting filled with the results of my darkroom efforts.

You could of course argue until the cows come home (Ed: Eh?) about the 'quality' of film vs digital - and many people do.  Well I'm not too bothered about that particular argument - while it's important if you're a Tim Rudman or a Michael Kenna but for me that's not an issue.  I like the look of film and I would say I prefer the look of film to digital - although with digital filters like Silver Efex it's not always easy to tell the difference.  I would also say that I like the acquisition of skills acquired in the darkroom - from printing to toning.  As I said earlier, it's a much more physical and involving activity than the digital workflow and it's nice sometimes to think you are involved in an activity that harks back to the birth of photography, which went hand-in-hand with printing for many decades.

So there we are. For now I'm keeping this blog 'print-based only' - let's see what happens.

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