Film and Darkroom Group January 2019 Meeting

In early November last year, an email from LIP’s membership secretary was sent out, asking if members were interested in a new special interest group to cover traditional film and darkroom based photography. The proposer, Ted Kinsey, followed up with a questionnaire, designed to gauge the particular areas of interest and availability of potential participants. His early enquiries were evidently entirely successful, and the first ever meeting of the LIP Film & Darkroom Group was held in Waterloo in the first week of January.

There were 18 members present and Ted began by asking each of us to introduce ourselves and briefly talk about our own photography, with the opportunity to pass round a few prints if we’d brought any. It was clear that the group already encompasses a broad range of practice and experience, from members just starting out in film photography having only worked digitally until now, to those who have many years’ continuous experience of traditional methods or who are perhaps returning to their favourite historical processes after a long break. Working approaches were also varied, ranging from those who relentlessly seek technical excellence and repeatability in their work, to those who are pushing experimentation and unpredictability in their pursuit of the ‘happy accident’. The interests mentioned included infra-red film, wet plate collodion, platinum printing, and solarisation, as well as the more conventional silver halide process.

Following a short tea-break, most of the rest of this first meeting was spent discussing the content for future gatherings. It was agreed that the core of next month’s meeting would be based around 4 volunteers spending around 20 minutes each showing and discussing their work in more depth.

Other ideas put forward included the possibility of hiring a darkroom for an extended session, pairing more experienced volunteers with starters in a sort of ‘buddy system’, and members with access to surplus darkroom equipment passing it on to those without.

There was clearly plenty more to talk about – some members touched on the demise of what had been their favourite films or printing papers and what the nearest current equivalents might be, and there were the beginnings of a discussion on just how much the appearance of the printed image can be influenced by the way the negatives are developed. We all agreed that a members’ online forum would be a useful way to extend these discussions, the format for this will be agreed at a future meeting. The next one is on Wednesday 6th February at 6.30pm. Roberto

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