Once more unto the darkroom, my friends!
by Patrick Barrett
In 1999 or 2000 I started taking pictures with an old Polaroid camera (a model 210, I believe) that I’d found at a flea market in New York. It was an old-style instant camera that took peel-apart film that you needed to manually pull through the rollers after every shot. Soon I found, on the [baby] internet, that an interested person with a little time on their hands could do some creative things with Polaroid peel-apart film, such as image transfers and emulsion lifts (I’ll say more on those in later posts). As I learned about creatively using Polaroid film for different effects, I stumbled upon Polaroid SX-70 manipulations (more on those later too).
Finally, though the connection to Polaroid is a bit convoluted, I became interested in historical, little-used photographic printing processes – specifically Van Dyke Brown prints and started creating a large collection of them.
Sadly, in 2001 the Polaroid Corporation filed for bankruptcy and the availability of Polaroid film began to dwindle. Meanwhile, the photo world was deciding that digital imaging was the way to go and that film was a waste of time and money. Once that happened, photography started to get a lot less interesting for me (not to mention expensive) and I put down all of my old cameras, chemicals, and clothes pins.
But now, half a decade after I packed all that gear away in boxes, I’ve dug it all back out and set up a darkroom again. At the moment, I’m just printing Van Dykes from negatives that I already have, but soon I hope to get back to as many of those old processes as I can, depending on the availability of supplies (Fuji has an instant film that is said to work for manipulations and there are some packs of expired peel-apart film out there — though they are staggeringly expensive).
So, as a little place to document these adventures I’ve started this blog. I can’t say how often I’ll write but I’ll try post my breakthroughs (if any) and photos of it all.
Thanks for reading!
p.s. This domain name has long gone unused but it WAS the place where I had my photo website back then. So, if you’re here from the past, hello again, it’s nice to see you!