Sunday, June 1, 2008


It is not often that you have a photography nightmare, many of you probably have not had any, last night I had one. Many years ago I worked at a photography school. This school had huge gang darkrooms and sinks for printing and developing black and white film. The sound of water running was as persistent as the humming fans and clanking of fluid filled developer cans against stainless steal sinks. This was the setting of the nightmare. The plot was that I had just started developing two rolls of film. This is usually done in the clanking cans or tanks mentioned above and in the dream my film was in the "developer". I have developed thousands of rolls of film and I naturally multi task during this process, and I still do in my dreams as well. I left the tank at a developing sink surrounded by students to go to another area to find supplies. When I returned the film still on its reels had been emptied from its protective tank to the edge of the sink. Horror! My still light sensitive film, my images, were being destroyed by the very thing that made them, THE LIGHT!! Instinctively I shoved both reels back into the tanks and refilled the developer. I then scoped out the room where many students were sheepishly attending their own processes. I called out for the culprit and surprisingly a student at the far end of the sink area owned up to having ruined my film. I was so angry! We exchanged several sentences where I used this as a teaching moment for the listening students. I berated him, very unusual for me.

Exposing ones film happens if you do a enough developing, accidents happen. It is always a very painful experience. You are left wondering what might have been? The lost corrupted images were they great, were the exposures good, where the expressions timeless, you are left to your imagination and the desire to go back in time and correct the accident or re-shoot or or or, but you can not go back in time, they are lost. Forever.

In trying to figure out why I would have such a nightmare, I can only think of one reason. The process of intentionally exposing developing film or paper to light is called solarization and I recently recorded the image in this post. This is a unmodified digital image that has a resemblance to a solarized image. It was taken at the Enormous D show the other night (see the next post). This image got its unique appearance from another photographers strobe going off during the exposure. I call these happy accidents. Ok note to self keep thinking happy thoughts, so the nutty photography nightmares stay away. Next thing you know I will dream that that I am working at the Sears Studio trying to keep toddlers vertical in the faux jungle!

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