Not so Traditional Photography

Thursday, October 29, 2015 - By: Gina B, Mackenzie ‘17

Awkwardly fumbling around in the pitch blackness, you desperately squint your eyes making sure you haven’t kept your photo in the fixer for too long, printing photo after photo to get the perfect exposure; these are all challenges an Advanced Traditional Photography student works through on a daily basis.

In Advanced Traditional Photography, a subunit of the Photography program, second year photo students can expand their black and white photography skills by continuing on in the world of film. Students now use 100 ISO film, as opposed to the previous years 400 ISO, resulting in a step up in quality and detail. The most drastic change in the program, however, are the tools available. You are now able to access the advanced traditional darkroom.

The advanced darkroom hold endless possibilities in terms of exploring the intricacies of black and white photography. Different enlargers now allow you to change exposure times to a tenth of a second, as well as more advanced easels, and manually developing all photos. By submerging the photo paper first in developer, then moving to stop bath, then fixer, and finally soaking it in water, you get to see your photo magically appear before your eyes.

The program is small in number, with only five people participating, which allows you a full range of using the darkroom without crowding. Creating a photo through film is an extremely intricate process, and the previous experience of using the manual cameras allows traditional photographers to have more control over their photography and get very creative with different shots.

Each photo is precious, with a film roll holding 36 photos, and each photo requires test strips, several different prints with different exposures, and using lighting techniques such as dodging and burning in. Each photo is a process taking between two to four classes, so it really gives a different meaning to photography as opposed to taking hundreds of shots on a digital camera. It’s about process!

If you ever come by the photography studio downstairs, check out the traditional wall to see the works that students created utilizing the tools of advanced traditional photography. You’ll be impressed!

Gina B, Mackenzie ‘17

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