And little Dagonet on the morrow morn,
High over all the yellowing Autumn-tide,
Danced like a wither’d leaf before the hall.
Then Tristram saying, “Why skip ye so, Sir Fool?”
Wheel’d round on either heel, Dagonet replied,
“Belike for lack of wiser company;
Or being fool, and seeing too much wit
Makes the world rotten, why, belike I skip
To know myself the wisest knight of all.”
Idylls of the King: The Last Tournament by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
My friend Arthur–featured here a couple of times–is downsizing himself in preparation for a move back to the Pacific Northwest, and I’m a beneficiary of his housecleaning. This weekend he gave me a little Bogen enlarger and a bag of trays, tweezers, and other random items. This picture of one of the Washburn Water Tower “Guardians of Health” is in the first batch of prints to come out of my fiddlings.
I’ve been developing my own black and white film for about three years now, but that just involves locking myself in the coal room to fumble with the reels, then standing over the laundry sink with jugs of foul-smelling chemicals. And since I switched to Diafine two years ago, I don’t even really have to do math; whatever film I used and whatever ISO I rated, it’ll be 3 minutes in “A”, 3 minutes in “B”, stop, fix, and rinse. After the negatives dry I can play again, using my scanner and Photoshop, but the camera was really the only “old school” part of the process.
Now, with an enlarger, I feel like I can control the whole process from start to finish without resorting to the computer (at least until it’s time to share the output here). I have no idea what I’m doing in the darkroom, really–I understand the very rudimentary science of the process, but as for the technical parts (like, how long do I expose for? how long do I put the print in each tray? how do I avoid banging my knee into the table in my darkened coal room?), I’m playing by ear. I’ll probably pick up a book or two–I learn best by a combination of reading and doing–but for now I’m enjoying the fun (and the fumes…) that comes with this wonderful new toy.