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  1. #1
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Disaster or perfection in the darkroom

    Sometimes I can go into the darkroom and everything I do is a complete disaster. Other days I go in and find everything comes out fine and I have a complete intuitive feel to what is happening. Do others experience this variance?

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  2. #2
    fretlessdavis's Avatar
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    Yup! Definitely. On and off days for me... Off days I quit early, and when I'm in the groove I'll be in there as long as I can.
    New-ish convert to film.
    Pentax MX for 35mm
    Bronica ETRS for 645

  3. #3

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    Me too!

    Jeff

  4. #4
    eddie's Avatar
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    Me too. I think it happens to everyone. The darkroom requires more than just technical skills. Some days you have it, some days you don't... You can't beat yourself up over it, though. (It also makes the days you're firing on all cylinders much more special.)

  5. #5
    Dr Croubie's Avatar
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    Not just the darkroom, but everywhere.
    Some days I go to work and churn out a few designs in a day, others I go in and just stare blankly at the screen until it's time to go home. (best part is I get paid the same amount either way)
    An awful lot of electrons were terribly inconvenienced in the making of this post.

    f/64 and be there.

  6. #6

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    It is normal.

  7. #7
    jovo's Avatar
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    And, sometimes the bedroom!
    John Voss

    My Blog

  8. #8
    Alan W's Avatar
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    Some nights I'm better off leaving as soon as possible,some nights I can stay for hours.On the good nights I'll be listening to Big Star.

  9. #9
    David Brown's Avatar
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    No. Sorry, but I am not going to either make a joke or offer some false humility about how some days are "disasters" and on others "everything comes out fine". I just don't see it that way. While there may be some luck involved in exposing film, there should be no luck involved in the darkroom. There, you have total control over what happens.

    Granted, there are days when I don't produce anything worthwhile, and others where beautiful exhibition prints result. And perhaps this is what you're alluding to. However, I do not think it's due to a "variance" in my skills or intuition. There are just way too many other factors.

    I have been practicing darkroom work for close to 45 years, including some as a full time professional. My skill-set is pretty firm. So, why are some days not winners?

    As much as we hone our skills and practice our art, it's just a given that not all negatives are created equal. There are just too many variables and factors in making photographs that a photographer cannot control and some negatives will not print easily, or at all. One skill that I worked hard overs years to develop is identifying those negatives and not even trying. Still, there are the occasional questionable images where I will give it a try. And they may or may not work out. Or, sometimes I can make a perfectly decent print from a technically good negative, and then just decide I don't like the photograph and it ain't gonna ever see daylight.

    Good days and bad, production wise? Sure. Disasters and days where things just "come out"? No.

    Perhaps I'm just arguing semantics. If so, I apologize. But, I feel strongly about this.

  10. #10
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    David Brown,

    I think your idea is worth exploring. Personally, I feel variance exactly as cliveh described. Some days, I can tell the best contribution I will make in the darkroom is with a sponge and towel. Today is such a day. I hung the lightbox back on the wall behind the vacuum easel above the sink and drew the curtain. I basically have "no" creative energy tonight so I am doing cleanup. It's been a long week and I have to get out tomorrow for a day trip...

    It doesn't matter what negative I might put in the carrier tonight, nothing good could come of it.

    Now when I do turn on the faucet... I may predict Sunday or next Friday. That will be a different day.

    Then I'll face the variance YOU described, where a resilient neg might make a good print immediately... or a questionable neg may or may not make the grade... But the creativity I put in, will be of a consistent character.

    I'll tell you next week how it goes.

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