Reveries of the Darkroom: Color Photography Recollected

My last photography class in undergrad was on color photography. This was a new experience all together for me since I typically only shot black and white. Color seemed to add a whole other dimension to consider while shooting, which both intrigued and flustered me.

The usual ease of intensity and contrast within B&W photos, refused to be true in color. Things, people, life appeared more than ordinary–absent of nuances, of stark, asphyxiated spaces, of small, common places all pronounced by the lack of color. There is a glory within whites, grays, and blacks–here there lies a unique depth, mystery, and seduction.

Color photography though. Eeky.

Why don’t the cracks on my bedroom walls that hold gorgeous, defined light translate as utterly cool with this stuff?

Why don’t the texture of rocks launch off of the the print as enlivened beings moving into the empty space around me?

In my self-portrait, why don’t the lines in my face look appealing and wise? I look older.

Maybe I’m an untalented colorist, however I will say there is a distinct need to see complexity differently. ERGO, I struggled with this aforementioned class.

As I wobbled, walked in circles, and continued shooting exalted B&W images with color film,  I also continued to blossom in fondness for the darkroom.

…blossom in fondness for the room of darkness in which the chemicals bled into my system and I became the very liquid needed to develop the prints…

The darkroom is a formidable space, while it requires your senses to shift more acutely as they compensate for the darkness, your imagination is released to dance around you. Many times, due to the absence of light, I would wiggle my rear end spontaneously, softly talk to myself, mouth loud words to people I’m angry with, and perform dramatic stretches. I did this, because, I could and no one would really, actually, definitely see what I was doing.

I simply digressed. Shake shake.

The darkroom, however, changes with color photography and it lovingly becomes more complicated and diverse in which there are more variables to mess up while printing.   (I’m mouthing loud angry words now)

Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow the 3 true primary colors. Blue, red, and yellow are merely simplified, inaccurate versions for the 3 year olds to grasp. I intend to teach my 6 month old Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow as the three colors that mate and give birth to virtually every color known to the human eye (although we homosapiens are missing out on thousands of other existing colors, sadly the light we perceive is within limited wavelengths).

I simply digressed again. Talking softly to myself.

Moreover, my semester final project dealt not only with a grueling photography requirement, but also for the images to be placed inside a handmade book.

Luckily, Columbia College has a world renowned, master level Book and Paper degree and luckily I was friends with one of the students.

But first, I had to find what I wanted to shoot.

Edgar Degas was a favorite painter of mine throughout high school and most of college. I took pleasure in his whimsy, washed renderings of dancers. The dreamlike representation of dance using pastels, contrasted well with the accuracy and precision of ballet. So, I was going to appropriate from Degas.

Slow shutter speed, wide aperture, great light, tripod, voila.

I went to Columbia’s dance department, spoke with the instructor and spent a few hours shooting, delightfully–other than my camera crashing mid-rehearsal and my one lens becoming many itty bitty parts to the wrecked whole…it was a fun time and I loved watching the beauty of their bodies move to the piano playing, live, in the background. Plus, their attire is really what I would want to wear on a daily basis.

Thankfully it all came together satisfactorily, despite killing a lens, tiresome printing, and gluing my fingers together in attempt to create an accordion style book. It was a worthwhile experience.

Here it is:



Filed under art, beauty, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Reveries of the Darkroom: Color Photography Recollected

  1. stunning photos, heather marie! my husband l.o.v.e.s. open/slow-shutter photography and he got me in to it as well.

    gorgeous. truly.

  2. danke, danke, danke….i appreciate your words Rebecca…and i’m glad you married a photo kinda man…

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