What draws us to the art of photography? Why do we contemplate our world through the frame of reference that is the viewfinder? Some choose creative writing, others use a bristle brush and pigmented oils. Still others raise their voices in song. In the Silver Darkroom class we document our journey with the manually operated film camera.
Light bursts through a glistening, finely ground lens and onto the film plane, catalyzing silver halide crystals. When we enter the darkroom we become chemists and magicians. We bridge the chasm between the ancient alchemical search for gold and the physics of modern science.
We shift brightly hued reality into an abstract view of grey tones--rich, complex and nuanced. We dance with the subtle geometry of shadow and light. We separate ourselves from the instant photography so common in the digital world. This difference is essential to our work. It is a meditation, a rhythmic workflow.
One-on-one working sessions with the instructor during the week address the practical use of the Zone System and how this technique insures a proper negative. Continuing into the darkroom, the students will work with the instructor on printing working and final proofs. During the term, group darkroom sessions with the instructor will address film development, paper printing, archival selenium toning and finishing touches before display in the student exhibition at the conclusion of the term.
Introductory and Advanced Levels are offered. The Introductory Level comprises the basics of the manual camera, film, exposure control, and darkroom procedure. This includes printing fine art black and white negatives in 35mm, medium and large formats. We teach the Zone System, codified by photographer Ansel Adams.
Advanced Level work includes fine-tuning technique, understanding materials and a sense of history, permitting photographers fluency and context. Advanced students are accepted on the basis of work samples which should be submitted at the time of application. Advanced study is strictly individual. In both Introductory and Advanced Levels, skills and craft are emphasized as a means of developing a personal vision. A final portfolio is required of all students.
Our darkroom is equipped with four Kaiser Enlarging Systems. Each black-and-white enlarger is appointed with an Ilford multi-grade variable light source for unsurpassed and subtle variable contrast control, as well as Nikon and Schneider Kreuznach Companon-S enlarging lenses. Our lab system is designed to produce only archival quality black and white images.
Although the Aegean Center owns several medium and large format cameras, we advise students to bring their own manually operated device. Film and paper will be supplied at cost.