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Monday, November 20, 2006

In Passing

I just got a catalog in the mail from B&H Photo Video in New York city. I note that in the entire 397-page catalog (although it does include things like audio-visual aids, home electronics, and keyboards), there are only two pages devoted to darkroom equipment.

I have to say I never expected the situation to change quite as quickly as it actually has.


Featured Comment by Bill: As a newspaper photographer I've spent 30 years in the darkroom printing in B&W and color. The newspaper has been digital for years, but my personal work was still silver-based. Since gaining access to an Epson R2400 I've finally reached the point where I really need to question whether the darkroom is neccesary.

I also teach a photo class or two at a university. Like I tell my students, the darkroom is pretty much for artists, cranks and wierdos. I consider myself part of all 3 catagories, but I have not made a silver print in nearly a year. The 120 B&W film I still shoot is now scanned and then printed on the Epson. I too, never thought digital would move so quickly.

Featured Comment by Gary Nylander: I echo Bill's featured comments. I have been a photographer for newspapers for the past 30 years or so also. The paper I now work for has been digital for the past 5 years. I would never want to go back to film for shooting my daily newspaper assignments. I like shooting digital. I also enjoy shooting black and white film on my time off though, mostly view cameras. I have been making prints with my Epson 4800 printer, which I really like using. I used to have a full darkroom in my house; now I have a small area in my laundry room for processing my sheet film. I quite honestly don't miss the long hours standing over trays of chemistry. I too would never have thought that digital would have made such a quick transition.


Blogger Just Plain Hugh said...

I was walking past B&H Photo last week and there was what looked like enough parts to make about one or two omega D5 enlargers in in their dumpster. The floor space for darkroom supplies is smaller than the camera bag department and a bit larger than the iPod accessory department. Adorama's darkroom supplies shelf space just shrank to about a third the size of their inkjet paper shelf space.

8:30 AM  
Blogger Billie said...

Yesterday I was told by a Santa Fe Workshop in Mexico participant that it is most likely that next year they will not process any film for their workshops in Mexico. Too few people in the workshops are using film and too difficult to get processing. I'm with you. It has happened very quickly. I still can't believe that I gave up my darkroom this year when I moved to Mexico fulltime.

8:59 AM  
Blogger mike said...

Isn't it nice to know how "little" we really need to produce fine prints. That's it on those two pages — stripped down to essentials. Enlarger, chemistry, paper and a few trays. What else? Compared with what digital entails that's inexpensive. Somewhat on the lines of "keep it simple, stooopid".

9:16 AM  
Blogger MJFerron said...

Funny I started getting serious about photography abbout 8 years ago and have done most everything digitally until the last couple of years when I discovered how much fun traditional B&W photography is. My windowless garage serves as a darkroom when the sun goes down and really can you ever make an inkjet that looks like a wet print? IMO digital makes photography easy fast and.. well cheap. I would pay a fair amount of money for a well done wet print but personally wouldn't pay more than $25 for a first class inkjet. I'm mean really, it's just a poster of sorts. Nothing more.

10:03 AM  
Blogger JCdeR said...

Being an old time dark room fanatic myself I hardly ever use it anymore. The digital darkroom is at the beginning of it's breakthrough, and already is faster, cleaner, more effective and easier to use.
I hate saying this but it is how I see it.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Andy Smith said...

Interesting timing. The online processor for my prints, Printroom, just started offering black and white prints using a silver halide printer and paper specific to black and whites.

I realize this doesn't replace the ability to do it oneself in a darkroom, but at least there are companies who care about the processes involved... or at miinimum see a market for it.


5:56 PM  
Blogger Brambor said...

A darkroom suggests more magic and skill is necessary to produce a fine looking print. But in my case the truth set me free. With HP's Premium Plus paper or Ilford Smooth Pearl Paper my HP Photosmart 8750 will crank out superior looking prints compared to my darkroom. So the darkroom was disbanded and sold off 1 year ago.

7:47 AM  
Blogger Gary Nylander said...

Hi Mike,

Thanks for posting my comments as your "Feature Comments " !


3:13 PM  
Blogger Alejandro López de Haro said...

I understand that is time consuming and takes delicate work to produce a fine print. I also understand that many people don't know what a fine print is (what it looks like). So, let us cheer for digital printing for making now more easily to chunk out bad prints. (Although reality is that most images stays in the computer screen: and that is what people look at and call a fine image.)
Alejandro López de Haro

6:40 PM  
Blogger dasmb said...

It might hearten you to know that while B&H's catalog and floor has made a dramatic shift away from film, their used equipment section upstairs has become something of a historical museum of film cameras.

Cameras of all sizes, styles and brands are available for sale and for quite a fair price. Big old Hasselblads and Mamiyas, all sorts of TLRs and rangefinders sit behind glass cases, tantalizing the romantic sort who dream of wandering Paris with a Leica and a leather knapsack. And it's all within reach -- I bought a number of decent manual focus primes there for about half price, in much better condtion than most eBay wares -- nobody needs to know I'm using them on my XTi.

12:21 PM  

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