Quote Originally Posted by Les McLean
In the UK we still have many colleges who maintain wet darkrooms alongside the digital suite...
Firstly I apologise for cutting Les' well crafted response down to a few lines.

I am currently studying a BA(Hons) Photography in the West Midlands (UK), the University has very good darkrooms, both Black and White (with enlargers upto 10 x 8) & Colour as well as superb studio facilities.

In the first year the technical skills of photography, such as relationships between aperture and shutter speed, depth of field, hyperfocal distance, stops, the Zone System etc, studio lighting, medium and large formats are taught on film cameras. With at least 80% of projects having to be shot on film, the other other 20% is left open to the student to make his or her own decision. THe lecturers place a very high emphasis on very good darkroom skills above digital. I feel they consider digital as more understanding software manipulation rather than a true photographic skill.

They also teach alternative processes such as Cyanotypes, Gum Bi-Chromates and liquid light.

From my experience what concerns me most is that when the choice of format is allowed most students head back to digital because this is easy. They don't have to do a hugh amount of work themselves. When critics of finished work are carried out I have heard a number of students say "well I shot 300 images on my digicamera to get these 4 good ones" - this worries me as its more a law of averages than photographic skill.

But on a more positive note I have been amazed at the number of pure digital photographers who have never been exposed to 'traditional' techniques but having now used film and experienced the magic of the darkroom have headed out and purchased MF film cameras. They have especially been impressed with the quality associated with MF and LF, and in particularly with colour transparencies.

I feel that you need film to teach true photographic skills and for that reason film will always be around. The day film is lost will be a very sad day indeed.

John