At the beginning of Summer I asked for my old photography coursework back from Sixth Form and this is some of what was returned to me. These are some darkroom prints I did to test the exposure I needed on the final pieces, which are photographs of areas of Hull that would fit under the ‘industry, building and structure’ category. Some of these prints are discoloured or stained but I was so proud of them at the time, and in a lot of ways I still am.
I was the only person in my class to have created darkroom prints for my final piece in this particular project, and the time I spent in the darkroom with no one else around to ruin my concentration was really relaxing. It was the first time I realised I actually enjoyed the process of making my own prints. It’s a shame I can’t do that anymore now that I don’t have access to facilities of this kind, but one day when I have a big enough place I want to construct my own darkroom using equipment from my First Call Photographic catalogue which I sometimes look through longingly when bored.
These are actually cheats – I didn’t use normal negatives. I did, in fact, take photographs with a DSLR camera, invert the colours after turning them black and white and then print them onto acetate; they served as giant negatives which I could just lay onto the photographic paper when exposing rather than putting the negatives into brackets and enlarging them as well.
The resulting effect is a grainy, but perfectly in-focus images. Doing it this way was a sure-fire way of preventing me getting stressed and panicking about my final prints being ruined. I am actually quite naff when it comes to the early stages of the development process such as safely transferring the film from camera to spool… There was many a time when I would spend so long on a shoot only to have had the camera settings wrong or done something wrong when handling the film or mixing the chemicals!
Hopefully the next time I get to use a darkroom (in what is probably the very distant future) I can teach myself to do things properly and once again be able to have some fun developing. I really miss the darkroom smell… the stains on my clothes? Not so much.