Saturday, April 05, 2008

It Ain't '68 But I Still Have The Same Darkroom Stuff & It Still Works Good As New

I'd recently picked up a 19mm Canon lens for my Leicas and I'd just finished consructing "the ideal darkroom" for myself somewhere back around 1968 or '69. Forty years later it still looks pretty much the same as it did then. I still have the same two enlargers, the same counter, the same sink, all in the same places. The one significant addition is a washing machine up against the stone wall in the background. It's a great place for a big paper cutter or box of enlarging paper. Extra counter space! But I always get conned into doing a load of laundry with a sweet "Oh, and while you're in the darkroom anyway..."

Recently I've grown my hair back into pretty much the same bushy mop as I have in this photograph. In all these years, and despite the best efforts of a whole bunch of women, I haven't gained a single ounce. The leather vest is long gone, however.

For this shot I had the Leica M4 and 19mm lens on a Leitz table top tripod on one of the shelves on the wall. I used the self-timer to make the exposure. I wonder if I'll still be able to buy enlarging paper and chemicals in another forty years? At the age of 105 will I even care? Will I still have my hair?

In the meantime, while my darkroom still exists I often make it available to others. So many younger photographers have never developed a roll of film or watched the image appear on a print in the developer tray. There are very few commercial rental darkrooms left, and about the only way you can use a darkroom in the colleges that still offer black & white photography courses is to be enrolled at the school.

If you live in the north Miami-Dade or south Broward County area and want to give it a try email me at Please include your phone number. I'll even go in there with you and teach you about film development and making your own B&W prints. It's fun!


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