Following the course I did in Bristol with Holly a few weeks ago, I learned that there was a darkroom on an estate nearby that offered tuition and hire (Devizes Darkroom). Holly and I booked in for some more learning. I wanted to consolidate what I had learned before with the chance to make more prints and also to see another perspective on the process. The darkroom is owned and run by Howard Maryon, a pro printer since the 70s. As there were just Holly and I there the tuition was quite intense and very beneficial – it was straightforward to spot what needed improving and make another print straight away rather than having to wait for other students to be in sync with lighting/dev timings.
I learned how solarized prints are made – when the light goes on before an image has finished its time in the dev tank. I learned about the best way to handle photographs in the tanks, how to use the grooves in the bottom of the tank to get underneath the corner of a print for easier handling. I learned about framing, about focus (those little grains of sand still vex me), about exposure times and using filters to adjust the contrast on multi-grade paper. I used a different system for washing and drying prints compared to the ones we used in Bristol. I saw how you can use a transparent negative holder to make contact sheets from, thus saving time and giving better results (in my case). I learned that you can put a contact sheet on a light box for clearer viewing and I may have fallen slightly in love with the magnifying device – Shepherd? – like a snowdome but with nothing in, which brought life to my images. I was able to “burn” one of my images – to darken areas that were too light. This, combined with increasing the filter to 80% magenta gave a result that was extremely close to how I saw the print in my head.
Finding a resource like this on my doorstep has quite changed my ideas of how I want to progress my analogue work. Howard is happy to process my film for a nominal amount, which means I don’t have to do it at home, and I can then print at the darkroom for an hourly rate and materials. Given the space constraints at home this seems like a sensible way forward.
I need to scan the prints really to include here, however here are a couple of mobile shots.