Monday, September 05, 2005

Gelatin And Silver

After a five year hiatus, I returned to the basement darkroom last night. While I make my living (justify my existence?) in the imaging arts, that is all done with modern automatic equipment. With the advent of ink-jet printers, one could say that some of it is not even 'photo'-graphic.

It was a pleasant return, and what capped it was opening the bag of photographic paper and inhaling the aroma of the silver-laden gelatin emulsion. For over one hundred and sixty years this process, invented by Henry Fox Talbot, has made its magic real in darkened cellars and closets around the world. This feeling of kinship with medieval alchemists, turning not lead into gold, but visual experiences into tangible and permanent representations- is truly a milestone in the expansion of human consciousness.

Tonight I contemplate a follow-up visit, the term "dry-down" meaning nothing to most people, but those who know will comiserate.

By Professor Batty



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