We’re in the digital age, so why mess with‚a good thing by setting up an ancient darkroom? Well, setting up a dark room offers so much ‘hands on’ knowledge; it’s far more practical for learning photographic printing than you may think. The principals and tools of Photoshop were partially based on how photographers worked in the darkroom. Curves, levels, cropping, sharpening, multiple exposure printing, dodging and burning are just some of the things photographers have been doing in darkrooms for generations.
Here’s 4 reasons why darkroom printing rocks;
1 — There’s that special ‘something’ that comes from doing the majority of the work with your own hands. It is far more satisfying to produce a print in the darkroom than by pressing the print button on your printer. Ask any good darkroom printer that has done both, they’ll tell ya. It’s true that darkroom printing takes longer and its precision is less accurate than digital; and yet it’s still more satisfying.
2 — Since everybody is going digital your work will stand out if you stay traditional.
3-‚ YOUR work will never be doomed to spending its life on a hard drive or on a few websites, you’ll always have beautiful prints to hold and show off.
4 — I have a sneaking suspicion that darkroom prints printed today will be more valuable than the same image printed digitally. Why? Because every darkroom print is somewhat unique and traditionally, unique items have more value than mass produced ones.
If you decide to set up a darkroom here’s a few things to be aware of. Before you start your darkroom make a floor plan of the room so you can more or less know how to layout the wet side and the dry side.‚ Will you be processing b&w and/or color? Colour printing is more complex (and requires a different enlarger) than b/w printing so it’s probably best to start with black and white. A good exhaust system is highly recommended as the chemicals you’ll use (unless you buy a processing machine) are toxic.
What’s great to know is that because everybody and their uncle has gone digital, there are amazing deals on used darkroom equipment. Ebay is your friend!So get your feet wet! Enjoy a getaway from the digital everyday…More on darkrooms here in our photography forum