Ceterum censeo darkroom esse delendam
Ok, maybe it’s not on the scale of the Punic wars. And God knows, I’m not Cato.
But my darkroom (built when I moved, at considerable expense) has been idle for a long time now. By ‘long time’, I mean a very very long time. And I simply cannot foresee a day when I might go back to doing traditional gelatin-silver darkroom printing.
From a usage point of view, the darkroom is already gone. Heck, half the space in there is being used to store bits of various decommissioned computers (all powered down and in kit form) and two Mac Minis currently acting as servers. Oh, and a bunch of uninterruptible power supply units.
And the reason is that over the past few weeks, I’ve been printing up a storm, and among other things I’ve made best effort toned B&W prints on the HP z3100 on matte surface papers like Crane Museo Portfolio, and on the current crop of baryta papers like Harman Gloss FB Al and Ilford Gold Fibre Silk. And, to be honest, the range and quality of the prints is better, by a considerable margin, than anything I got in the darkroom. I think that the baryta papers have finally closed the gap between gelatin silver prints (if your aim is the ‘air dried glossy’ look) and inkjet prints.
So, from a print quality point of view, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to keep all that darkroom stuff hanging around.
Furthermore, although I recognize that there are a lot of photographers who would sooner gouge out their own eyes than work at a computer more than necessary, I’m not one of them. I’m having more fun than I ever had in the darkroom, and that’s really saying something because I found working in the darkroom to be a lot of fun. I spent a lot of time in the darkroom. I remember, particularly, that November and December of 1996 were particularly dim and red, and there are quite a few other months which were very similar to those two.
So I think that means the darkroom is getting taken out of mothballs and parted out. Better to sell it all off, and get the money where I can use it and get the equipment where someone else can use it.