Sally Boon Matthews, photographer/artist and photography professor (tall and stylish like Susan, the mutual friend who introduced us), was finally allowed to borrow the college’s van and after more than a year of failed plans, my darkroom was emptied, now officially the storage room it had been become.
My first enlarger, my beloved Omega B22, bought used from a photographer in Soho–my parents helped me move it–when I was just starting out and when I wasn’t confident that it would prove to be $100 well-spent: gone. The four-bladed 16×20 Saunders easel I’d saved up for: gone. Ditto another favorite piece of expensive equipment, the Rolls Royce of print washers, a 16×20 Kostiner.
All of it (and a Beseler 45MX, trays, stainless tanks and 35mm and 120 reels, timers–GraLab and Time-O-Lite–grain focuser, safe light, negative carriers, enlarger lenses, variable contrast filters, etc.) sent to York College (a part of CUNY with no budget for equipment) to help young photographers, born digital, learn the foundation, and thrill to the magic of the darkroom. Which really pleases me.
I hadn’t printed in my darkroom in several years–my big beautiful Epson 7900, always consistent, had taken over the j0b. But I used to stand in the dark, listening to the radio, hours at a time over the easel, dodging and burning, a faint orange glow (unlike how bright it is in the movies) coming from the safelight, smells I no longer noticed coming from trays full of toxic chemicals I had long ago chosen not to worry about handling.
Now I sit (and sit) in my office (unergonomically perched, fold-legged on the edge of my Aeron chair)–the lightroom, with two glowing screens, an Eizo with a three-sided hood to keep off extraneous light, and an Apple cinema display, listening to iTunes. There are no smells (unless a Labrador that needs walking is napping under my desk). And I use computer photo language–mostly–but when I say editing, I mean choosing the right frame, not making corrections in Photoshop.