My greatest fear in this world, is becoming blind. Without my eyes I could not see to create, and without the ability to create, my life would be meaningless and trivial, I would have no reason to live. Without my eyes, my greatest love,film photography, would become impossible. This, I find odd. While it may not seem obvious, most of film photography is done in partial or complete darkness. To take a picture, you must be able to see. You need to be able to distinguish light from dark, and use it to create. But to load film into a canister, you must be able, to be blind. This act must be done without the tiniest glimpse of light to guide you. The dark, it terrifies me. It reminds me that my sight may not be a permanent fixture in my life. But in that room, in the dark, I am unafraid. I am not afraid, because in that lightless room, I can see. I know, that just a few inches below my right hand, a film canister waits. Directly behind me, under the wood shelf, scissors and duct tape hang on a hook, dangling between a liter bottle of stop bath and fixer. Drop my film or can opener-a huge photography sin- and I can find it. Because in that room, I can see everything. My favorite thing that I hear people complain about in the darkroom, is the lack of light. One tiny red lightbulb, isn't enough light, they say. And I just laugh. The room's name, is no misnomer. We weren't trying to trick you. It's called a darkroom, because it is dark. And in this room, you see by other means. The numbers on your enlarger are impossible to see in such dim light, and so you must know. Twist it all the way to the right, then click it to the left, twice. That should give you a good starting F-stop. To focus the photo, you need your eyes. To determine exposure time, you use your eyes. Everything else in that room is you. Your hands move the paper into the developer, agitate it. Stop bath is to the right, drop it in, wait half a minute, pull it out, let it drip. Listen for all the liquid to run off, and fall back into the tray. Fixer's next, seven minutes sharp, then rinse for five in water thats not too hot-not too cold. You rely on touch to determine that. I recently bought matte paper to use. I typically use gloss, but it was on sale. Photo chemicals are only on one side of the paper. With gloss, even in dim light you can see the sheen. But even with my perfect vision, I cannot visually determine which side is which with matte paper. I must rely on my fingertips to determine for me. I don't see. Photography, is based on the greek words 'photos' and 'graphe', together meaning 'drawing with light'. While this is indeed true, I am finding photography to be so much more than that. And my eyes, my greatest possession, I am finding them rendered useless when I am faced with what is truly the essence of creation, the product of human imagination.
Creating: The Product Of Human Imagination
September 1, 2010