LIP Film and Darkroom Group April 2019 meeting

For various reasons, this month’s meeting followed on just 10 days from the last one, which did give an unexpected lift to the feeling of continuity.

Beverley Nelson began, with the interesting case of what happens when black & white and colour print films are both processed together in the same tank. The group was surprised to learn that they do ‘come out’, though we’re not sure how the colour negatives will print. Beverley also wanted to know if it was possible to replicate the effect of one of the inkjet colours running out on a digital printer, when working with darkroom printing. This is something of a reversal of the more usual quest of trying to simulate the results of darkroom processes when printing digitally.

Amanda Eatwell then ran through the chronology of how she began photography at college before then working on still lifes as a photographer’s assistant. We were able to examine a selection of negatives and contact sheets (mainly colour work) from this period, along with some final prints.

I was next, and, since I haven’t been active in the darkroom for over 20 years, it was with some trepidation that I opened up the print boxes to see how they’d fared in the intervening years. It appears all that attention paid to ‘archival processing’ was worth it, since there didn’t appear to be any yellowing or other degradation of the prints. Whether the subject matter (mostly landscapes) warranted the effort I will leave others to judge. I will say, though, that my current enthusiasm for reviving my darkroom definitely received a boost.

Following our customary tea break, a proposal was put forward for the group to make an active contribution to this year’s annual LIP exhibition, in addition to individual members submitting prints. The idea of a film & darkroom seminar was raised, with the possibility of a live demonstration of film processing.

Further ideas for the content of our monthly meetings were also discussed, and it’s anticipated that feedback from the members will help to fine tune the balance of the technical/aesthetic as we progress.

Sam Tanner’s book was passed around and much admired, and Ted Kinsey showed us we needn’t completely eschew inkjet printing, by demonstrating how he records a darkroom printing plan onto a full size inkjet print of the same negative, along with test strips glued on in the corresponding position.

Jo Stapleton had brought in cyanotypes made on hand-coated paper, contact printed via acetate inkjetted inter-negs. We also got to play spot-the-difference with Don Holtum’s meticulous comparisons between HP5 and Pan 400.

Further photographers put themselves forward to show work at the next meeting, which is on Wednesday 1st May at 6.30pm. Anyone interested in coming along is asked to contact Ted Kinsey at tedkins@gmail.com. Roberto Arendse

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