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Aaaaggghhhh....the "darkroom light" came on !


After a couple of days off and opportunities to go out with my camera at the start of this week, I took out the Intrepid 5x4 and made 6 negatives. On Thursday evening I had a chance to develop them in the bathroom/darkroom.


For context the downstairs bathroom is semi-converted into a space which is dark-proof in that none of the dark gets out when it is sealed up. The lights to the bathroom are outside the door and for safety are taped up as part of the preparations to avoid unwanted activation during any "dark activities".


During a period of illness last year my 7 yo (at the time) son bought me the light pictured above because it was able to illuminate in various colours and he thought it would cheer me up, which it did! I use it in the darkroom as it is an LED rechargeable lamp, but is most definitely not a safe-light, nor would I use a safe-light with Ilford FP4+ emulsion, which needs to be processed in the dark. More about this later.......

On Monday I took a rare trip to Cenarth Falls which is about 5km from my home and I hadn't been there for a number of years. I was surprised to find that there is now a raised "boardwalk" where the riverside path used to be and wandered its length before settling on a view across the river, attracted to the light illuminating the slate bankside over there. Initially setting up on the boardwalk, I soon changed the plan and clambered down to the bankside as I could feel the vibrations of approaching pedestrians through my feet ....and so would the camera !


I made 2 negatives from this spot both at 13 seconds and F32 and was very hopeful for these 2.


The light was soft and omnidirectional due to the overcast, but the glow on the slates coupled with the slowly floating bubbles which would be the "foreground" meant I knew the images would have a little something to give. Framing using a 300mm Fujinon F8 lens worked out just right and 2 sheets were exposed.


On Tuesday afternoon I went to the familiar Henllan woods and made 4 more negatives ....but out of the 4, 2 showed some sort of "unintentional camera movement" going on (and indeed the second shot which was a "duplicate" of the first, shows the viewpoint has lowered compared to the first, so I obviously didn't tighten everything up properly !), 1 is debatable whether it works or not (which probably means it doesn't ) and 1 was just an awful image that will never come out of the file again.

For these 6 negatives, as they were all shot in very similar conditions and had very similar tonal ranges, I elected to develop them together in my Paterson tank which can do all 6 at once. They need to be loaded onto a "holder" that then sits inside the tank which then, via a lid, becomes dark-proof. Once the tank is sealed up the rest of the process can be done in the daylight (although I do it in very subdued light just in case using the red lamp).


Once the negatives were loaded onto the holder and then into the tank, I reached forward for the first "lid" which dark proofs the tank and at the same time allows the chemicals to be poured in and out of the tank in daylight. I found something that didn't feel like the lid and whilst confused in the dark allowed my fingers to try to work out what I had found on the table. After 2 seconds of this, it became very apparent what it was .....as it came on !


Recreation of the moment, the light on , the lids untouched. Arrrrggghhhh


The light, once on needs to have contact made with the touch sensitive top for a further 2 seconds in order to turn it off.....felt like a long time before it went off !


I developed the film in Ilford DDX for 9 mins 30 secs so a little shy of N development, but the whole way through the process I had a feeling of foreboding as "I knew" the sheets were surely ruined or at the very least fogged beyond use by the exposure to the light.


After rinsing though and hanging to dry I was shocked to find what looked like 6 good negatives hanging to dry, although closer inspection has revealed that of the 6 , 2 are really good IMHO and 1 may be worked on in the future.


The Negatives




These 2 negatives are the best of the 6 and were both made at Cenarth Falls on Monday. These are being mulled over at the moment as part of the process of making print files from them and certainly at the moment I expect them to make the cut.



Initial versions of the images are now in the Latest Images Gallery : here, but these may evolve a little before becoming the final iteration.


Learning Opportunities This Week


Setting up the Camera - There is a dance , a set of moves that needs to be practiced and honed and becomes a natural progression of steps to get to the point where one is ready to expose the film. This includes (for me) checking the knobs are tightened ....twice during the dance and I don't remember the first check let alone the second check for the 2 images I made at Henllan woods ....which would have been good as the exposure of the negatives was good ....but without a doubt the front element either slipped or tilted during the first exposure and between exposures. Consider, as a student of karate, the dance to be the kata and practice it.


Setting up the Darkroom - Do as I have done every time before this time - place stuff that is not needed in the dark out of accidental reach !!


Thanks for reading !

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