In 1951 my School ran a trip to the 'Festival of Britain' on the South Bank of the River Thames in London -- one of my classmates brought his camera, a Kodak Brownie 'Refelx' c amera and let us peer into it - It was wonderful to see the screen -- and all in colour too ! He told me he did his own developing after School on Thursdays at the School Photo-Soc and asked me to go -- well I turned up and in a semi-darkened chemistry lab was the Chemisrty Master 'Gabby' Hayes giving out small sheets of white paper to boys, whoi would then go over to a bench, where they would put trhe white paper onto a film negative in a hting similar to a picture frame with glass -- then the boy went over to another bench where there was a light bulb on a retort stand, and hold the frame under the light bulb for a time, then go back to the bench where they took out teh white paper and went over to a sink where there were some dishes holdiinf liquids -- the paper was put into the first dish and LO and BEHOLD !! A 'Miraculous Event' took place -- the white paper darkend and a PICTURE APPEARED !!!
Of course, the Boys were doing 'Contact Prints' frmo medium format negs ! ---- I was HOOKED !!! I rushwed home on my bike and asked my MUm to find her Kodak Hawkeye Box Camera which she had got in the 1930's by saving up 'Black Cat ' cigarette coupons - as she didn't smoke it took a LONG TIME !!
I cycled over 4 miles to a wonderful 'Emporium' called Marston & Heards where they sold all manner of WWII Photographic goods and chemilcals and bought some ex-RAF WWII 120 film and some chemicals and started making up my own developers ( which I still do today ! )
I processed the film in a dish which I used to hatch Frog Spawn in and which my Mum used to cook Tapioca Pudding -- luckily NOT at the SAME TIME !! I was told the film was 'Orthochromatic' and I could use a RED light so I wrapped some Red paper around the bulb in our bathroom 'blacked out' with an old Army blanket and see-sawed the film through some home-made developer and fixer -- the resulting grayish images I thought were the 'Bees-Knees' !! And I contact printed them onto Kodak 'Velox' Chloride paper, same as the Chemisrty Master was giving out.
It was a BIG DAY when the School Photo-Soc got a British made 'Gnome' enlarger with a lens which had f8 and f16 stops ! It was put into the Physics Lab cupboard and I was allowed to use it -- I printed a box camera photo of my Mum in the garden to 'Half Plate' size and took it home wet between two sheets of School Graph Paper -- I still HAVE it in an album complete with the Green Graph Paper lines on it -- my Mum died in 1989 aged 89 years .
Great to hear how you got started! Any chance you could post a scan of your first enlarged photo, it would be great to see. I must admit, I discarded many of my early efforts, which I deeply regret now, but I do still have all the negatives, but it seems impossible to re create the original prints, some how my instincts make me want to do the best prints I can (probably due to the high cost of paper these days!)
dear mr hairygit : thanks for you interest in my 'post' -- yes, I could find that print -- it is an album in our loft -- I will get it and scan it but not thiis weekend -- workmen coming !
Hi everyone. I got my start around 67 or 68 when my friend got a FR do it yourself kit for Xmas, he had no interest but I did. We shot a roll of 120 and processed it in his mother's laundry room and it actually came out. Contacts of course, the enlarger came a couple of holidays later. Eventually I morphed into a custom printer in NYC. I still get a kick out of seeing the image come up in the developer or out of the processor as the case may be.
Good morning, Pete;
My start was similar to yours, except I did it by myself with just the Kodak Pamphlets to guide me. I also had bought a 4 by 5 ( 5 by 4 ? ) contact printer for exposing the paper with the negative below it toward the light bulbs. The Durst 606 enlarger and all of that stuff came later.
Oddly enough, I have actually come back to using a Yankee 4 by 5 Contact Printer, but this time I am using the 4 by 5 negatives that come from the Speed Graphic and the SINAR F and F1 view cameras.
Regarding your comments about watching the image form in the developing tray under the illumination of the red safe light, I have a similar observation in the signature line currently used on APUG.
Enjoy; Ralph, Latte Land, Washington
Just an addition -- I have three enlargers now -- two GIVEN -- a DURST M601 with two Wray Supar lenses 75mm and 50mm and a DURST M305 with colour head which came with a 50mm f4 El-Nikkor, then my LPL C7700 Pro with 50mm f2.8 El-Nikkor, 80mm f5.6 Componon, 105mm f4.5 Minolta E-Rokkor, 50mm f4.5 Minolta E-Rokkor, and was given recently a 60mm f4 HOYA Super EL lens from the Widow of a deceased Camera Club member. I do my B&W in dishes, with two fixing baths, and for RA4 Colour prints I have a British 16x12" NOVA slot processor with temperature control - oh yes, the Camera Club member who gave me the Durst M305 35mm enlarger also gave me a Voltage Control unit .
Hi Everyone, this maybe a little late but I have a similar story about starting. Around 67 or 68 my best friend got a little FR do it yourself darkroom kit. He wanted nothing to do with it but I thought it was the greatest. I still can remember seeing the first contact print come up in the developer. We used his mother's washroom. The I conned my parents into getting me one. The next year I went to high school where they had a camera club and a darkroom with 3 enlargers. The rest was history, I got a job in a color lab, learned color printing and worked as a custom printer in New York City for many years until I lost a leg to diabetes. I still have a great b/w darkroom that I don't use enough.