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12/27/2009 01:48:19 AM · #26
In the pre-digital era, I took a class in so-called "alternative" processes. For the most part, this meant coating paper (or glass) with liquid emulsions and making contact prints using direct sunlight or exposing the material in a view camera.

Was it relevant to my photographic career? That's debatable.

Was it fun? Heck yeah! I also learned a great deal about how photography came to be what it is.
12/27/2009 03:20:00 AM · #27
I went to an art school for college and when I first entered it was all darkroom/film, after two years the transition switched to digital. I started to realize my final years of college that all this kids coming in doing the all digital thing were wizards on the computer, but didn't seem to appreciate or see the beauty in film and the darkroom. I always felt they were missing a huge part... of what photography is. I realize now and days digital is what makes the money, but if you've never done darkroom stuff I think you should give it a try... at least once.

I was just in a juried photography exhibition with a bunch of other talented photographers in Atlanta. Almost everyone's photographs were digital, except mine and maybe 3 others. Sadly only a hand full of the people that went to the show (out of hundreds) knew that my work was an "alternative" process (cyanotype, gum arabic), including the other photographers. It made me so sad. These people called themselves photographers, but yet had no idea what an alternative process was. sigh.
12/27/2009 11:44:16 AM · #28
I don't think learning about film processing would really help you in the future of your given field. I will say that film is a lot more fun for me, and also, when it comes to landscapes, digital simply cannot compete against a scanned 6x6 negative (yet).

My 1950s Yashica D looks a lot crisper and clearer than a 5d2 file, but it is much more work to obtain, more money to process/scan and not very usable for a large majority of jobs- I couldn't shoot a wedding or a sports event with a Yashica.

But that's by the by: I say go with digital as it will be of more immediate and relevant use to you.
12/27/2009 11:50:55 AM · #29
Yes. If only because you will then REALLY APPRECIATE just how easy digital is, and it will give you a feel for certain processes that are not intuitively done in a digital environment, thereby increasing your potential for appreciation of different techniques.
12/27/2009 12:12:16 PM · #30
Does anyone develop their own film, or do you just take it somewhere? If you develop it yourself, how do you (legally) dispose of the used chemicals?
12/27/2009 01:52:31 PM · #31
You might start by reading This and then communicate with the Environmental Protection Agency in your area.

I most certainly would not recommend that you throw in down the sink or in a landfill site.

Ray
12/27/2009 02:10:30 PM · #32
If you have a hazardous waste depot near you I suggest taking it there.
12/27/2009 03:01:05 PM · #33
Originally posted by Spazmo99:

In the pre-digital era, I took a class in so-called "alternative" processes. For the most part, this meant coating paper (or glass) with liquid emulsions and making contact prints using direct sunlight or exposing the material in a view camera.

"Roman Photography"
12/27/2009 03:49:46 PM · #34
Originally posted by Yo_Spiff:

Does anyone develop their own film, or do you just take it somewhere? If you develop it yourself, how do you (legally) dispose of the used chemicals?


Down your gullit.
12/27/2009 04:25:24 PM · #35
Put me down in the "Jump at any chance to spend time in a darkroom" camp.

I definitely agree with Deb - it's magic watching the print come to life.

Do you *need* it for the future? No. Will it help you with your future? I believe all learning helps, how you apply the knowledge will dictate how it helps.

Film is not dead, although it does have a huge sucking chest wound :( It will stay around for quite a while, relegated to those who prefer the chemistry and magic over pixel and computer.

I do miss the smell of the darkroom ... ahhhhh, good times, good times :)
12/27/2009 04:26:55 PM · #36
Originally posted by JayA:

I'm learning both, theres a lot of techniques some that dont even involve a camera as such that cant be done digitaly.

That being said film is boring and time/money consuming :)


Expand on that - really interested in hearing about those.
12/27/2009 04:29:44 PM · #37
Most certainly if you have the opportunity to learn how to shoot with film, it will make you a better photographer. You may never go back to film after the course, but what you will learn will stay with you in your digital career. I shot film for many years and did my own darkroom work for B&W (I would send out the color). When you spend the time and money it takes to make one print in film, you truly hone your skills, including developing your eye for composing the shot. Film gives you the sense of every shot counts, unlike with digital where the MO of most photographers is to try hard, but try a lot. When it costs nothing to take extra shots except pushing the delete button again, then you tend to take a lot of shots, hoping there will be the one keeper. Not so with film and working with film makes you think real hard about your composition and all your settings before pushing the shutter release.

You are in school for a reason. Get the most out of it.

Good luck!
12/27/2009 04:48:44 PM · #38
While I agree that for future employment you may not need the analog darkroom skills (have you researched the requirements for potential employment opportunities?), do you know what the "advanced digital" course consists of? I ask because if it is photoshop 101 as you suggest, then you may not learn much, or it will be information you can gain from books/internet etc whereas, the darkroom is a practical environment where you learn by as much by doing as being taught and getting the resources together to try it later is only going to become more difficult.

Message edited by author 2009-12-27 16:50:20.
12/27/2009 05:13:56 PM · #39
Originally posted by Simms:

Originally posted by JayA:

I'm learning both, theres a lot of techniques some that dont even involve a camera as such that cant be done digitaly.

That being said film is boring and time/money consuming :)


Expand on that - really interested in hearing about those.


Photograms and Chemigrams mainly. I also done some work with a pinhole camera. Can post examples if anyone is interested?
12/28/2009 03:47:46 AM · #40
Originally posted by Yo_Spiff:

Does anyone develop their own film, or do you just take it somewhere? If you develop it yourself, how do you (legally) dispose of the used chemicals?


Yes, I do. All of them are going into tanks which are brought to a photographer who disposes them for me.
12/28/2009 04:24:32 AM · #41
Originally posted by JayA:

Photograms and Chemigrams mainly. I also done some work with a pinhole camera. Can post examples if anyone is interested?


Please do so! :-)

About the whole film-is-dead crap: as long as people still use film, it's not dead!
I've been using film a lot more than digital recently, and even for payed shoots (weddings, band shoots, portrait sessions and the like) I use both my dslr and my medium format film camera. Both have qualities the other doesn't have and both still have their place on the market of photographer's business- it's far from what some ignorant people claim that film has become a niche for artistic photographers only.
12/28/2009 05:39:47 AM · #42
Originally posted by JayA:


Photograms and Chemigrams mainly. I also done some work with a pinhole camera. Can post examples if anyone is interested?


Pinhole is to die for. I've modified an Agfa Clack into a pinhole camera but didn't have the chance yet to get out there and try it out.

Please please, do post your PH-photographs.

I've uploaded some "normal" photographs into my portfolio. No pinhole, but 36mm and medium format. Finishing is not as should because I just can't invest my time to get the digitalized version exactly the same as the printed version.
12/28/2009 07:43:51 AM · #43
Originally posted by missingstar:

I always felt they were missing a huge part... of what photography is.


Originally posted by missingstar:

These people called themselves photographers, but yet had no idea what an alternative process was. sigh.


Originally posted by DiamondPete:

Most certainly if you have the opportunity to learn how to shoot with film, it will make you a better photographer.

I understand that your need to do film as a medium, and that it's a wonderful thing and all, but let's just be clear about this.

Until you can explain how a different manner of processing can make you a better photographer, and in a manner that actually makes sense....you're merely trying to justify your desire to process film.

It doesn't need justification......if you want to, do it. You don't have to convince anyone. But it's NOT about photography, it's about doing what you want. And that's fine.

Originally posted by DiamondPete:

When you spend the time and money it takes to make one print in film, you truly hone your skills, including developing your eye for composing the shot. Film gives you the sense of every shot counts, unlike with digital where the MO of most photographers is to try hard, but try a lot. When it costs nothing to take extra shots except pushing the delete button again, then you tend to take a lot of shots, hoping there will be the one keeper. Not so with film and working with film makes you think real hard about your composition and all your settings before pushing the shutter release.


This is ridiculous!

Subjectively, I resent that you are telling me that I don't spend the time and effort necessary to hone my photography skills!

Please explain to me how processing film will help me with the understanding and application of composition, lighting, depth of field, aperture, shutter speed, metering, exposure, or any other PHOTOGRAPHY skills that have absolutely ZERO to do with processing.

I feel like I do just fine with concentrating on the aforementioned techniques, and I don't need a darkroom to do so.

12/28/2009 08:20:09 AM · #44
Originally posted by NikonJeb:

Originally posted by missingstar:

I always felt they were missing a huge part... of what photography is.


Originally posted by missingstar:

These people called themselves photographers, but yet had no idea what an alternative process was. sigh.


Originally posted by DiamondPete:

Most certainly if you have the opportunity to learn how to shoot with film, it will make you a better photographer.

I understand that your need to do film as a medium, and that it's a wonderful thing and all, but let's just be clear about this.

Until you can explain how a different manner of processing can make you a better photographer, and in a manner that actually makes sense....you're merely trying to justify your desire to process film.

It doesn't need justification......if you want to, do it. You don't have to convince anyone. But it's NOT about photography, it's about doing what you want. And that's fine.

Originally posted by DiamondPete:

When you spend the time and money it takes to make one print in film, you truly hone your skills, including developing your eye for composing the shot. Film gives you the sense of every shot counts, unlike with digital where the MO of most photographers is to try hard, but try a lot. When it costs nothing to take extra shots except pushing the delete button again, then you tend to take a lot of shots, hoping there will be the one keeper. Not so with film and working with film makes you think real hard about your composition and all your settings before pushing the shutter release.


This is ridiculous!

Subjectively, I resent that you are telling me that I don't spend the time and effort necessary to hone my photography skills!

Please explain to me how processing film will help me with the understanding and application of composition, lighting, depth of field, aperture, shutter speed, metering, exposure, or any other PHOTOGRAPHY skills that have absolutely ZERO to do with processing.

I feel like I do just fine with concentrating on the aforementioned techniques, and I don't need a darkroom to do so.


What you fail to grasp is that the value is not simply in the process.

But I don't want to give you a coronary, virtual or not, so I'll leave well enough alone.

12/28/2009 08:27:45 AM · #45
Originally posted by Spazmo99:

What you fail to grasp is that the value is not simply in the process.

If you could explain that, it would be a vast difference than what's been put forth so far.


12/28/2009 08:40:46 AM · #46
What digital has done for me is exactly what you film folk are talking about with your way of doing things.

I shot film for 30 years, and was basically just a GWC......I had not the time, money, nor space to set up a darkroom, so there was a vast gap in my knowledge of what could be done with the image in post processing.

Not to mention the expense involved over time paying people to do my processing, and not even having a clue as to how the images could be manipulated and improved with the most minor of steps.

I'd be willing to bet there aren't a lot of people out there whose experience with developing is empirical. The film process is likely not something that you can just dive right into with no knowledge or experience.

Pretty much everything I've learned in the past three and a half years has been BECAUSE I am now involved in the post processing part of image reproduction. And virtually all of it is self taught, or with very little in the way of formal education.

Understanding all of the things as they relate to what I want from the finished product is exactly what I'm getting from my post processing learning curve, and since I can also get this within minutes of the actual shooting if I so desire, I can work the image while the circumstances are fresh in my mind. I can get my laptop out on the spot if I want.
12/28/2009 09:18:36 AM · #47
Originally posted by NikonJeb:

What digital has done for me is exactly what you film folk are talking about with your way of doing things.

I shot film for 30 years, and was basically just a GWC......I had not the time, money, nor space to set up a darkroom, so there was a vast gap in my knowledge of what could be done with the image in post processing.

Not to mention the expense involved over time paying people to do my processing, and not even having a clue as to how the images could be manipulated and improved with the most minor of steps.

I'd be willing to bet there aren't a lot of people out there whose experience with developing is empirical. The film process is likely not something that you can just dive right into with no knowledge or experience.

Pretty much everything I've learned in the past three and a half years has been BECAUSE I am now involved in the post processing part of image reproduction. And virtually all of it is self taught, or with very little in the way of formal education.

Understanding all of the things as they relate to what I want from the finished product is exactly what I'm getting from my post processing learning curve, and since I can also get this within minutes of the actual shooting if I so desire, I can work the image while the circumstances are fresh in my mind. I can get my laptop out on the spot if I want.


I agree with NJ. I just read "The Negative" and "The Print" by Ansel Adams. I picked up some new knowledge on evaluating the light in potential image (the Zone System) and his approach to creating an image- which begins with visualizing the final image, then using his tools and experience to get there. (His tools include the process of exposure and development). Very interesting stuff but clearly applicable and similar to what is learned when working purely in a digital and photoshop environment. My passion for film and the related processes have (hopefully) improved my skills. Its the passion and not the process. Color, light, composition, impact... it is the same either way. Artistically, film/darkroom may take you/me down a different path but that is just the nature of the tools.

By the way, the cost of setting up a darkroom these days is less than the price of some good cameras or lenses. So much of this stuff is heading to the dump it can be picked up for a song. Some are even willing to give this stuff away for free.

Message edited by author 2009-12-28 09:23:03.
12/28/2009 09:42:59 AM · #48
Pinhole
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Exposure time - 1minute 30seconds
Postal Tube, Black tape, Cutting from a coke can with a 1mm pin hole, Clothes peg

Photogram
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Paper Cut outs places over a light sensitive piece of paper then exposed through a enlarger.


Chemigram
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As above with photogram but only a pre flash of around 1second before effecting paper in several areas using fixer and developer, then tray developed.
12/28/2009 05:42:52 PM · #49
Originally posted by NikonJeb:

Originally posted by missingstar:

I always felt they were missing a huge part... of what photography is.


Originally posted by missingstar:

These people called themselves photographers, but yet had no idea what an alternative process was. sigh.


Originally posted by DiamondPete:

Most certainly if you have the opportunity to learn how to shoot with film, it will make you a better photographer.

I understand that your need to do film as a medium, and that it's a wonderful thing and all, but let's just be clear about this.

Until you can explain how a different manner of processing can make you a better photographer, and in a manner that actually makes sense....you're merely trying to justify your desire to process film.

It doesn't need justification......if you want to, do it. You don't have to convince anyone. But it's NOT about photography, it's about doing what you want. And that's fine.

Originally posted by DiamondPete:

When you spend the time and money it takes to make one print in film, you truly hone your skills, including developing your eye for composing the shot. Film gives you the sense of every shot counts, unlike with digital where the MO of most photographers is to try hard, but try a lot. When it costs nothing to take extra shots except pushing the delete button again, then you tend to take a lot of shots, hoping there will be the one keeper. Not so with film and working with film makes you think real hard about your composition and all your settings before pushing the shutter release.


This is ridiculous!

Subjectively, I resent that you are telling me that I don't spend the time and effort necessary to hone my photography skills!

Please explain to me how processing film will help me with the understanding and application of composition, lighting, depth of field, aperture, shutter speed, metering, exposure, or any other PHOTOGRAPHY skills that have absolutely ZERO to do with processing.

I feel like I do just fine with concentrating on the aforementioned techniques, and I don't need a darkroom to do so.


You stated earlier that you have never done film. I'm afraid you wouldn't understand Jeb, sorry. But I'll try anyways...

I am a better photographer because I have processed hundreds of rolls of film and developed hundreds of prints in my darkroom. I cannot explain it but I don't think I have to. :) It just is. Every time I buy photo paper for printing on my printer I ask about the differences between the new paper and the old paper I used to use in my darkroom. I make my choice based on my knowledge about the old paper choices we had back then and the results they gave.

I know the difference between film grain and photoshop grain/noise. Do you?

I can tell when a B&W print is from a negative and which is from a sensor most of the time. Can you?

Have you ever seen a print slowly appear in front of your eyes while it sits in a developer tank? The feeling you get is inexplicable. Nothing in digital can match that feeling.

DOF is different with film cameras than with digital ones. Blacks and whites are different too. Nothing beats my old Ilford HP film for subtle tones in b&w prints and the beautiful grain it produced. I still haven't been able to replicate it in PS or any other software.

I can go on but my point is it isn't one thing or another that specifically makes you a better photographer because you did film, it's a conglomeration of all these things and many many more that makes you one. The experience you gather while doing film is unattainable in digital. Back then there wasn't any Topaz or any other magic software that totally overhauled your not so great shots. You had to re-shoot until you got it right. Now don't tell me that this experience won't help a person become a better photographer. If you do then you truly do not want to understand or accept that it does.

12/28/2009 05:50:01 PM · #50
I am going to agree with Jac and the others.

If it costs you a semester, then why not.

You could learn about all sorts of things, there is a lot to be learnt from Darkrooms etc.

Think of it as a skill that 3/4 of most 'modern' photographer do not have.

Something new to learn about photography, how delicious is that???
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