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Friday, January 27, 2017

The "Living In A Black & White World" Story

Entrance into the darkroom is through
this revolving door.  Another exit door
into an outside hallway was also in the room.
It was an ordinary day.  Stopped for a visit in the classroom where I used to teach graphic arts and photography at Manheim Township High School in Neffsville; a small town to the north of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Just had to make a visit to the darkroom that I designed when the school was built and made sure I took my camera with me to document the occasion.  I taught photography years before digital cameras were available to the consumer which was late in the 1990s.  The students loved loading their own film into cassettes, taking photos with their SLR (single lens reflex) camera, developing the film in the darkroom and watching as the photo appeared on their photo paper in the tray filled with developing chemicals.  Talk about learning!  
Some of the old cameras that the new teacher loans to
the students for the class.  Not many people still have
SLR cameras that use film to take photographs.
And, I enjoyed teaching them how to do it as well as watch their faces as they saw the image magically appear in the tray.  As I stood in the darkroom today, aglow from the yellow-orange colored safelights, it brought back so many fond memories.  I looked around the room and noticed all the enlargers where the students made their black and white prints as well as the developing sinks in the one end of the room where they developed their film and prints.  
A bulk loader in a box with film cassettes.
Place looked almost the same as it did when I retired in 1999, but slightly updated with new plumbing and new safelights.  The darkroom which I designed was one of the best public high school darkrooms in Lancaster County and the prizes that my students earned in the National Scholastic Art and Photography Contest were unequalled.  The darkroom was actually a room off the graphic arts room, but large enough that I could hold classes in the room while there was another teacher teaching in the graphics room.  We had some of the best times in that little room.  Many a time I invited professional photographers from the community to talk to my classes about anything from portraiture photography to aerial photography to agricultural photography.  
The developing tanks sit, ready to develop the black and
white film that the students will use to make their own prints.
That little darkroom was a special haven at times for students who were unsuccess- ful in other classes, but ended up being successful professional photo- graphers in real life.  I have a few books and photographs at home from some of those students.  Then digital cameras arrived and I retired, but that darkroom is still very much alive with students, and a new instructor, who love to explore the almost forgotten art of black and white photography as it used to be.  Don't you just love it!!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Under safelight conditions, I took a few photos.  This is of one wall that holds enlargers used to make prints.
Sitting on a print holder is a test wheel used to select the perfect exposure time to make your print.
One of the three safelights in the room helps light the room without destroying the print paper.

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