Sunday, October 24, 2010

Taking Pictures

We have a plastic box, as big as a footlocker, full of photographs. I'm slowly scanning them so that I can have a backup copy.
When people lose houses to fire, storms or other disasters, one of the first things they say they miss are the photographs.
The reason is obvious. Photographs tell the story of your life. That's why we love photographs. They capture an instant. Sometimes video shows too much. A good photograph can say so much more.
I got interested in photography when I was in the Army. My friend Kirk Trachy from New Hampshire knew how to develop black and white pictures and he taught me the basics.
You have to be in a room that is totally dark, except for a a safe-light (a type of light that doesn't expose the paper).
You put a tiny strip of negatives in an enlarger, which is a device that slides up and down. The enlarger has an exposing light that shines a concentrated beam through the negative projecting the reverse image on the base of the enlarger. The higher you raise the head, the bigger the image appears and visa-versa.
Once you focus the negative image on the base, you turn the exposing light off, put in a piece of printing paper, and turn the exposing light on for a few seconds. When the light turns off, you take the paper out and dip into an 8x10 inch tray of developing solution.
It's there that you see the image appear. Once the image is fully developed, you take it out of the developer and put it into another 8x10 tray of fixer which stops the development process and makes the image permanent. After the photograph sits in the fixer for a while, it goes through a wash which removes all the chemicals off the photograph. Then you hang the picture up to dry.
I can tell you this: when you spend hours in a darkroom, you learn what NOT to do when taking pictures.
Those hours in the darkroom taught me how to become a better photographer.
Digital technology is almost like cheating. There is nothing like the lag time - the time between when you THINK you have a good photograph, and when you actually have a good photograph in hand.
Today, you shoot a photo, look at it, and if it's not good, you delete it and shoot another.
I'm obviously not advocating going back to the old way of shooting photos, but I can tell you that if people spent time in a darkroom, they would take better pictures.

1 comment:

  1. I was going through a drawer in my old desk yesterday and found my Polaroid camera. I bought it in 1991. A pack of film [10 pictures] cost about $20 and I recall thinking that was so worth it because of having to wait for developing pictures. Plus you had control of what you photographed; no worry of critique from the guy at the photo lab!

    I like digital much better than film and the Polaroid.

    Be sure to back up that hard drive. I have "cloud" back up on mine because if the place burns the hard drive is gone too.


Please consider sharing

Email Signup Form

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required