SoCS – Black and White Photography

Linda is back with a new challenge for us this week. Pop over to Linda’s place to join in: Life in Progress – check out the rules and the contribution of other bloggers.

This week, the prompt is:

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “black, gray, and white.” Use one, use ’em all. Bonus points if you use all three. Have fun!

My interest in black and white photography started becauseI had an interest in hand coloring photographs. If you have old family portraits around, you may well have some portraits that were hand painted by a studio artist.

To hand paint a photograph, you must start with a black and white photographs. Sounds easy enough except the oil must be applied to fiber paper rather than the traditional resin coated paper. That was a problem.

I was living in southern Maine at the time so I leafed through the yellow pages(remember those?) and found a black and white photographer who specialized in fine art black and white photography. (I later found out he liked photographing nudes thus his claim of ‘fine art’).

I went to the studio and met Everett. He was a nice man who was willing to teach me how to print my own photos and the basics of hand coloring.

I took my little Pentax K1000 and my gray card and started taking photos. I went back to the studio where I learned how to remove the film from the camera and load it into a developing tank all in complete darkness. After processing the film, it required drying time because developing is a wet process.

After developing the film, I learned how to use the enlargers to print my photos. In those days, all the paper was graded which meant you could not use filters in the enlarger to compensate for contrast adjustments. I fell in love with the darkroom.

Everett was kind enough to rent his darkroom to me for $5 an hour. From that day forward, every Wednesday after work I spent at least three hours in the darkroom processing own film and printing my own photos.

This was the kind of creativity in which I could totally lose track of time and all the world’s distractions.

I no longer have access to a darkroom and digital photography has almost replaced film photography. But for the diehard lovers of silver gelatin prints, it is all still out there.