The darkroom and digital darkness


On a recent visit to PEI, I dropped in to my old school, Holland College.

While I was there I checked out the darkrooms. Yes folks, Holland College still has film and printing as part of the curriculum. Many photography programs today have long since dropped film from their courses. Kudo's to Alex and Jean Sebastian for a great program that starts with the basics. I might also add that I love the smell of fixer, so they had to drag me out of the film room.

I believe that the history of the latent image and the various process's associated with it are a important part of the educational process for today's photographic student.

The students who get to see a photographic print slowly materialize under the orange safe light experience traditional printing. It forces them to work harder to get the acceptable print. It also makes them fully aware that detail spent to exposing the original film is paramount to the process. Bad exposures, Bad prints. Although they don't have the great range of developers and paper combinations like they did when I was there, they have enough to be creative. I do understand that in most cases there is no going back. The programs can't retrofit easily to Darkrooms. 


I have always felt that the digital experience was missing something when it comes to training.

If I were to teach a course tomorrow, everyone would learn to shoot in complete manual mode and preferably with something taped over their LCD screen. Too often, in my opinion, people start a career as a photographer without the fundamentals, and it shows. Even to take the time at understand the different aspects of the process is a start. As for the real keeners out there, they are off to Value Village to pick up a used film camera and take a walk into old school, and perhaps to shine a light on their own Digital Darkness. We still process and print film so, we won't let you down. 

Allen SutherlandComment