> Darkroom Magic at 13

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My passion was sparked in a room without light.

To be honest, I remember getting fairly frustrated as my dad tried to teach me how to expose a negative with his enlarger and follow the process through to produce a photograph. Until, that is, it finally worked! The magic of the darkroom had found me, and I was hooked.

My first darkroom was in our basement. I created my first prints in seventh grade (one black & white, one color) as a final piece of my school project on “the history of photography.” The enlarger was surrounded by another work table, some shelves, binders and binders full of negatives and a rowing machine I occasionally got bored enough to try out. The lawn mower and our bikes rested just on the other side of the wall. We set our chemical trays on top of the washer and dryer, then washed the prints in the huge basin sink, all the while hoping that nobody accidentally opened the door at the top of the open-sided staircase right next to us.

I found the prints last week while unpacking more books from storage (yes, still moving in after six months!).

The love of my life when I was 13 was our dog, Dieter (who I constantly called Silly Goose, which eventually evolved into just “Goose”). A black and white dog himself, my furry subject proposed a relatively difficult challenge for me to recreate.

Dieter

Finally satisfied with my efforts, I moved on to my second challenge: my color photo of the bell tower on Butler University’s campus in Indianapolis. I shot this photo one Fall while walking around the campus with my aunt and her golden retriever. It was a perfect autumn day, complete with a bluebird sky, bright leaves and long shadows.

BellThat was 12 years ago. Since then I’ve gotten to play – I mean, work – in two other darkrooms and then make the shift to digital photography. While I appreciate the efficiency that the digital tools provide, I am quick to be thankful for my roots.

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