LEARNING BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY AT SYMBIOSIS CENTRE FOR MEDIA & COMMUNICATION

When I stepped into the dark room, I did not know that this session would have such a positive and powerful impact on me and my passion for photography

Black and white photographs are more like reading the book than seeing the movie and that is what makes them so exceptional. At SCMC we have classes dedicated to learning the old art form of manually developing and printing photographs from negatives. The extremely well maintained Dark Room of our college is where the magic happens. Let me tell you a little more about how the magic takes place.

Firstly, we use an enlarger to magnify the negative onto a test photo paper and then we set the aperture opening and give manual counts for the exposure time. The exposed test photo paper is then dipped into the developer and there the picture comes to life and it is the most wonderful sight to watch. The excess is shed off and is washed and put into the fixer to preserve the wondrous magic. This is continued on a trial and error approach until we get a perfectly exposed picture. We then dry the picture and sit back and observe the beauty of manually developing and printing a photograph.

When I stepped into the dark room, I did not know that this session would have such a positive and powerful impact on me and my passion for photography. I have been avid but amateur photographer since I got a point and shoot camera for my 13th birthday but never paid much attention to how the photographs got printed and why it took the amount of time it did. With the onset of the digital age, most of us had also forgotten the art of clicking pictures on SLRs by using mere speculations and then developing it manually via trial and error approach. The dark room practical acquainted us with the long lost art of developing and printing photographs.

 

Initially it was challenging to work in the red light of the dark room but after a few moments but we all attained success as our hands smoothly worked on developing the perfect image in the now welcoming red light. The paramount moment being when we dipped the blank photo paper into the developer and the paper came to life, slowly showing the delicate outlines and then the entire picture all at once. The amount of happiness on my batch mates’ faces was unexplainable and I’m sure every single one us cherished the glorious sight of the developing process.

It is a tedious job, testing a strip of photo paper, developing it, realizing that it’s not correct and then repeating it until the perfect positive image is accomplished. But it is also a very knowledgeable experience as one is learning from the mistakes they are committing and making changes in the plan so as to ensure that the proper goal is achieved. This being one of the values which should be imbibed in our daily lives so that we don’t look at mistakes as a bad thing but something to work on.

The session also made me realize that doing things manually in a world where everything has an ‘automatic’ mode is the better way of living and helps us gain more control on things which should be done and shouldn’t be done. Most importantly, the class let our imagination run wild and explore the widest corners of our minds when we were asked to develop a photogram. All in all, the darkroom sessions were one of the most memorable ones in my first semester at SCMC and left me wishing for more such sessions in the upcoming semesters.

 

Article by: Malvika Nowlakha (Batch of 2019)

Photograph by: Malvika Nowlakha (Batch of 2019)

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