Robert K Wilson

Black and White Nostalgia

I've been spending a bit of time going through my back catalogue of personal photographs over the last couple of weeks looking for images I would like to have on my website shop pages. Actually the word 'catalogue' is not quite correct, that implies some sort of order, some knowledge of where a particular photograph can be located. Don't get me wrong, my transparencies and negatives are all safe it's just that they are safe all over the place.  If only I had taken the time as I did with my work images which are all catalogued and in order.

The only saving grace is digital. Once a negative or transparency is digitised, loaded onto the computer and backed up then it's much more accessible and, dare I say, safer.  Not that I'll ever get rid of the originals.

During my search I came across a folder of black and white contact sheets from my time at college. For those of you who don't know it's where the negatives are sandwiched with a piece of 10 x 8 inch photographic paper under glass in the darkroom, exposed to light and then developed. The sheet has all the frames from one roll of film showing on it. It's just a lovely thing to hold and to look at and I found myself being quite nostalgic for the old way - the process of developing photographs in the darkroom.

It was quite a time consuming process though. The black and white films had to be developed, washed and dried. Contact sheets were made and particular frames chosen. Then the prints were made and again put through the washing and drying process. I do wonder now how I managed it when I was doing it commercially. I processed every roll or sheet of film personally and made the prints.

For the contact sheet below I would have processed the film at home - I was at college then and I liked the control of doing the processing late on as everyone was going to bed. I could then wash the film and let it dry overnight without fear of it being damaged.

I did touch on the film versus digital dilemma in my 'about' page but really it's onwards and upwards with digital now and maybe one day I'll have another dip into the past and into the developing tank.