These days you can find me in the studio (retro fitted into a darkroom) pulling silver gelatin prints. It has been wonderful to dive back into the terminology and process of printing in a wet lab. The smell of a fix bath, the math, the patience and the joy of being lost in the dark. Not lost in the sense of ‘not knowing one’s way’ but lost in the sense of being cut off from the rest of the world. When the white lights go out and the amber colored lights turn on there is a wonderful feeling of isolation and focus that comes into being. The cell phone is left at the house, the windows are blacked out, the ac unit hums in the background and the stereo plays (well, I’ll keep that part a secret…I have been printing to the same genre of music since I first began pulling overnighters in the lab) ___________ while I hover over the tray line watching the latent image come into being. Then there is the new smells and ratios. I am currently printing with an Ilford tray line (for both film and paper) using the new Ilfosol- S for developing negs and using Ilfords Multigrade developer for paper. For a stop bath I am using Ilfostop and I am using Ilford Rapid Fixer for both film and paper. However, I’ll be ordering Eco- Pro chemicals when my Ilford stock runs dry. I’ll be sure to post my results with this new line of green products.
A wonderful thing about the darkroom is the intimacy of the process from start to finish. Shooting film again has certainly changed my relationship to the subject. I am no longer shooting on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong…I am shooting, but I am shooting in a slow methodical process where the entire life of a potential image plays through in my head before I even lift the camera body to my eye. Often times, after that split second sequence of events unfolding in my head- highlights, shadows, subject, negative density, paper selection, burning and dodging, matting and framing…I release the camera and move on. These days I am itching to get back to the figure. Pulling dark prints with subtle variations in the value range and a certain ambiguity to the end image. Something that reflects the personal nature and the mystery of the process. Nick Nelson and I used to discuss the alchemy/art, being back in the darkroom has me reflecting on those conversations.