Shedding Some Light into Dark Rooms

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