is learning how to development worth it?

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by snowfooled, Apr 20, 2006.

  1. snowfooled

    snowfooled Member

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    i have been seriously taking pictures for the last year, i asked for a camera for my 16th birthday and am really liking it. then my aunt gave me some old developing equipment (enlarger, easel, ect). if i were wanting to persue photography as a carreer, should i learn how to use this stuff?
     
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  2. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    I think it is always a good skill to have a strong knowledge of how the whole process works, and darkroom work is very satisfying for many different reasons, this does not mean as you grow up that the darkroom would always be part of your activities, but with the knowledge and skills to do it, you will always be able to make pictures. I would recommend learning the darkroom, I found knowing the darkroom stuff actually helps me make better images.

    Dave
     
  3. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    This is a tricky question to answer... since many (but not all) of us here develop our own negatives (at a minimum) and develop our own prints, we will almost all respond that this is "true" photography and you should "pursue" it. I am in total [/B] agreement with them!

    You, however, asked if knowing how to use a darkroom is an essential element to a career in photography... not sure it is now. BUT, if your aunt gave you that stuff, odds are pretty good she knows how to use it, and would be in 7th heaven if you expressed an interest in it & asked for her help. :smile:

    Cripe, I spend a great deal of time trying to convert various young people from the lure of instant gratification (digi-click-click-click) to the pure wonder of a print created by your own two hands from negatives you developed yourself.

    It may not be a "career path", but by george, it's one hell of a good time! :D
     
  4. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Jeanette, who is this George that shows you such a hell of a good time?
     
  5. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    Ermmmm.... did I say george??? I erm... meant bill... yeah, bill! :wink:
     
  6. snowfooled

    snowfooled Member

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    well the equipment was my aunts ex boyfriends... so i will have to find some one else to help me. i must agree the the "digi click click" is a major contributing factor to the slow film industry decline =(
    where is a good place to make a darkroom? i was thinking of putting up a couple layers of black cloth in my garage and then doing it at night. but first see if it is actually light tight. any thoughts on this idea?
     
  7. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Jeanette, you party animal.


    Someone send snowfooled some D76...
     
  8. snowfooled

    snowfooled Member

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    D67? whats that?
     
  9. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    This is probably a workable idea for printing, although you may find problems with dust getting on the negatives in the enlarger, but no reason not to give it a try. The other favorite location for a 1st darkroom is the bathroom as you have water and drainage available and, being a small room, it is usually fairly easy to make light-tight (a bit of a pain if it contains the only lavatory for the whole family though!).

    Developing film in a daylight tank (which is the most common method) only requires complete darkness while you load the film on to the reels and place them in the tank: once the lid is on the tank, you do the rest in daylight. Some people load the film inside a changing bag if they do not have a place to use as a darkroom.

    Look at this thread (http://www.apug.org/forums/showthread.php?t=10966) - most show purpose built darkrooms but there are some ingenious ideas for squeezing a darkroom space in to bathrooms and cupboards etc too.

    If you go to the Ilford website at (http://www.ilfordphoto.com/applications/page.asp?n=9) there are files you can download and read about the basics in developing and printing.


    Good luck, Bob.

    P.S. D76 is the ubiquitous film developer from Kodak...
     
  10. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    Yes. :smile:
     
  11. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Although there are infinite variations on how "immersed" one becomes in their photography, being able to develop your own B&W film, and make your own enlargements, is sort of like moving from the passenger seat to the driver's seat in a car. Not only do you then have control over the destination, but also how you get there. :cool:
     
  12. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Real men and women develop their own films and print their own photographs. Otherwise its like owning a sailboat and having a captain for it.
     
  13. DannL

    DannL Member

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    I have never invested in a darkroom. Not enough bang for the buck. I work from three distinct areas.

    1. The den, with one covered window at night, I do my enlarging there.
    2. The closet with a towel under the door to load film tanks.
    3. The garage at night to develop in trays. No ventilation required. It's perty airy in there and that way my family is not exposed to chemistry. That being a primary concern.

    I do all my chem work at night.

    Physical darkroom costs: $0

    Cheap is my middle name.

    As far as the first question in the thread . . . "Is it worth learning?" The mind is a sponge with unlimited absorption capability. The more you allow it to absorb, the more productive and resourceful you will become.
     
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  15. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Yes.
     
  16. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Just to add my $0.02:

    A few years ago, learning to use a darkroom would have been more-or-less essential for anybody on a career path in photography. With so much commercial photography today going digital, though, I'm not sure that's true any more. (But then again, I'm not a professional photographer, so I could be misinterpreting that world from my outside view.) That said, having the experience and skillset to use a wet darkroom certainly won't work against you if you want to pursue a career in photography, and could conceivably open some doors. OTOH, time spent learning these skills could conceivably be spent learning other skills. With the digital world so much in flux, though, I'm not sure how much you learn today (on Photoshop, say) would be applicable in 5-10 years. So there's my wiffle-waffle response. :wink:

    As to how to start out, I recommend you read some Web sites and/or books on traditional darkroom work. One Web site I have bookmarked is this one, which has good basic information on most of the procedures involved, as well as tips on constructing a darkroom. I've also found Tom Grimm's The Basic Darkroom Book, 3rd Edition to be a good printed guide. As others have noted, you can get by at first with remarkably little. On the other end of the scale, if you get into it in a big way you might eventually spend thousands of dollars constructing your ideal darkroom -- but presumably not at this stage in your life!

    You might want to start with developing a few rolls of B&W film. You can then scan the film or take it to a 1-hour lab to have them make prints. (You might get back hideously colored prints, but at least you'll be able to judge the images pretty well.) Developing the film only requires a room that can be made completely dark or a changing bag to load the reel and put it in the tank. The rest can be done at any convenient sink. Once you've done a few rolls of film, if you're still interested, set up the enlarger in some location that can be made light-tight and start printing. If you're still interested after doing that for a while, you can improve your darkroom space, add color processing to your repertoire, start toning your prints, and otherwise expand and improve your skill set.
     
  17. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    While the only reason you NEED to learn darkroom skills is if you want to go into wet lab work as a profession, learning the proceedures for processing and developing your film, and printing your negatives, will still add valuable understanding if you also do this kind of work in digital. You will understand where the functions in Pshop came from, why they do what they do, and how they do it. You will also learn what the differences between the two ways of working are, and as a result, when one is superior to the other. Most importantly, however, you'll learn a skill that will be enjoyable for you for the rest of your life, and you'll never stop improving, so you'll have a continuous growth curve.

    While you can use the garage, I'd add another vote for the bathroom, or the basement, if the basement isn't too dusty. Usually you have a water source in the basement from the laundry equipment, if nothing else, and a decent sized space to curtain off for a dark room.

    D-76 is a film developing chemical. There are lots of choices for this out there, but D-76 is a decent one to learn with. The most important piece of advice nobody has given you yet is:
    DO NOT BE AFRAID OF MISTAKES!
    You'll certainly screw up your first few rolls of film in one way or another, or even if you don't think you did now, looking back on it a few years from now you'll say, wow, what a mess I made of that... that's ok! Get out there, make some photos, get your hands wet in the chemistry, and have fun!
     
  18. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    Just a hunch, but it might also help you separate your personal work from your professional work.
    After shooting digital all day and working at a computer working in your darkroom will seem fun.
     
  19. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Snowfooled,

    Sorry, I am quite drunk, but it matters whether you intend to pursue a pro career or not!!! It sounds as if you are fairly young and would relish the chance to enjoy as many creative avenues as possible. It is true that darkroom work helps an understanding of the basic principals but where it excels is lighting the creative touchpaper. I am 30 yrs old and an full LF afficionado. It is not an age era thing but a hands on vs system interface thing. F15 vs Spitfire/P51D? Setting up a darkroom is v easy for basic stuff and IMO gioves you more feel for the medium in 10s than 10 months mucking about with PCs. I started out thinking digi was the way ahead but as soon as I started darkroom work I realised I had been hoodwinked and wet work was where the spiritual release lay. That was what I was really looking for and the results just happened to be far better too (in mono) and digital is just a distant fuzzy memory (for mono). Lets face it I am now thinking how to dev my own film in Afghanistan and hook it up to a scanner for APUG (neg) preview. Lets face it, wet mono must be good otherwise I would have to be mad to go to this bother. I own a good digi SLR........but then just bought a pair of 35mm SLRs just for this place as the digi was missing the mark by MILES. TriX, FP4,APX whatever....the photons hit the film and the film is the real negative of the momement. The real happening. No bull.

    Enjoy.

    Tom
     
  20. snowfooled

    snowfooled Member

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    so now all i have to do is convince some one to help me out...
     
  21. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    That will probably be less difficult than it seems.
    Here are some ideas

    Your school newspaper, join the staff
    Your school yearbook, ditto
    Local small-town type newspaper
    Camera clubs
    Photographic oriented galleries

    For me the darkroom is half of the creative process, and not having access to one has kept me away from taking pictures for too long. And I find that Photoshop and a scanner, or my digi camera are not satisfactory substitutes.
    Nowdays, and certainly in the future digital will be the standard for most commercial work. However there is very little that is true for film and photographic paper that isn't also true for digital, and vice-versa. Photoshop hits you between the eyes with all the science that is behind photography and image making. It's easy to mistake the ease of manipulation in digital with creativity. By exposing film, processing it, and making your own prints, you will learn how to work within the limitations of the process and produce something pleasing to look at, and conveys a message, which is what will make you a success in the commercial world should you decide to follow that path.
     
  22. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    Actually, it's easier now than it's ever been to find the information to start on your own. If you have the will, you will find a way. There's google, and then again there's the search function here on APUG.

    YIKES , I'm starting to sound old - I'm stuck way out here on the northern edge of the continent - I never touched a 4x5 camera until mine arrived in the mail - I had nobody (in person) to teach me anything - and in over 20 years I've never met another large format photographer in the field...yet I've learned because that's what the images seen within demanded of me so others could see what I felt.

    Simple eh?

    Murray
     
  23. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    IMHO the most powerful influence on the quality of my photography has been my time in the darkroom.

    I believe this flows from the fact that knowledge about the end product (the print) and how it is made greatly influences your ability to take quality photographs in the first place.

    You may be able to gain some similar benefits by employing careful, painstaking work in a digital environment, including full control of all steps in the process, but to my mind, the early results are not nearly as satisfying, and the experience isn't nearly as much fun!

    It is possible to have good skills with both digital and analogue procedures - so don't worry too much about the time spent in the darkroom. If you have knowledge about both digital and analogue, you can either choose to concentrate on one or let the strengths of each support your work in the other.

    Probably the most important advice - be sure to try the analogue darkroom route, because if you do, you may very well find, like I have, that it is an incredibly inspiring process.

    Good luck in your explorations.

    Matt
     
  24. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hey snowfooled,

    once you start, you will wonder what kept you so long. it really isn't as hard as people suggest it is. the hardest part of developing film is getting it on the reel in the dark. :wink:


    -john

    ps. henry horenstein's black and white photography - a basic manual is very good. it explains the basics of camera-stuff and darkroom-stuff.
     
  25. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    Quite frankly, to me, the labor of photography is about 50 percent of shooting and the other 50 for printing, including the process of developing your own negs and/or re-loading your digital files into a program.

    Whether you work in a traditional darkroom or on a computer, you will be doing the same thing, essentially. But for black and white images, the digital technology is not nearly as good as the non-digital one.
     
  26. haris

    haris Guest

    Well, should we learn how to add, substract, multiplie or divide numbers using head or paper and pen when we have calculators for that.

    Or better, we all now use computers and write Emails and others using them. Is that means we shouldn't learn how to write by hands?

    I can imagine next situation (SciFi future): Imagine someone sitting in front of computer and writting his or hers paper for school or PhD or like... Then that person go to take its new drivers licence, or passport. He or she take that and when must sign, he or she leave fingerprint. Not because security reasons, but because she or he can't write using hand. Schools don't teach cildren anymore how to write by hands after all everybody use computer or PDA or like... That is how I see future when I see question like this...

    So, should you learn how to develop your film or print? YES!