Using the darkroom for this project was an exciting experience, the induction was extremely helpful in giving me inspiration on the techniques I could use to inspire my own work. Craig, one of the workshop lecturers at my University is from a fine art background so it was great to have a talk with him as he specialises in Cameraless photography, he also showed me some of his past work involving Chemigrams and his experiments using different materials and how they create different results. I was also introduced to the following artists which I found interesting to research on the topic of cameraless photography:
Angela Easterling creates natural photograms in the darkroom with the influence of photography great Henry Fox Talbot and Anna Atkins. The results of her Photograms involve the intensity of humidity, exposure, lightsource and the combination of different selections of natural objects on photosensitive paper. Each image is unique.
The different levels of acidity and alkalines in the natural materials give each photogram its individuality aswell as the different exposures to light and humidity.
Abelardo Morrell is a Photographer originally based in Boston, New York. He first experimented with camera obscura techniques in his darkened living room in 1991. On his website, he talks about how he covers all his windows with black plastic to achieve total darkness then by cutting a small hole in the material which lets in an inverted image, he then places his large format camera on the image on the wall to make a camera exposure on film, it also states that at the start exposures took a lengthy 5 to 10 hours. i think the results are incredible and give a great sense of magical landscapes. His work is below:
Cliche Verre is a mix between painting and photography, it originates from the greek phrase meaning ‘glass picture’ and it involves either drawing, sketching, etching on to a surface of glass or transparent material and then printing on to light sensitive paper in the darkroom using the enlarger. This technique was one of the earliest forms of creating imagery before the invention of the camera. Henry Fox talbot is said to have been the inventor of this technique. 1833 is the earliest recording of this, where artists would burn the glass to create a smoked effect then by etching in to the smoked areas which they would then place over photosensitive paper.
Above image created by Camile Corot.
My own experiments.
An area i have wanted to focus on and experiment with in regards to cameraless photography is to create landscapes using the darkroom chemicals, developer, fixer and stopbath.
I was taught about photographic processing, that the developer is the alkaline, the stop bath a citric acid which stops the action of the developer and the fixer which makes the image permanent and stops colours fading over time if kept in as long as 1 minute.
To ensure that the developer was mixed to the correct solution, i dipped in a test strip, I knew it was correct as it turned the paper completely black.
The above experiments were created on lford Multigrade IV Resin Coated 5 x 7 Satin Darkroom B&W Paper. I cut out shapes of triangles which previously had come in to contact with chemicals such as developer and stopbath, then placed over the 5×7 sheets in a particular order and exposed to the enlarger light for 3-8 seconds, I continued to experiment with this technique to create different results. I like these as they are high in contrast and abstraction.
Going against the usual traditions of the ‘darkroom’ I then decided to create chemigrams with the surrounding room lights turned on which in turn fully exposed the light sensitive paper instead of just using the safelight, i feel this gave me access to much more experimentation with creating depth of different colours and gradually watching the process develop so i could easily manipulate the final result in to looking like a landscape. I feel they all work better as a collection of four rather than singular images. Although they were done through practicing and experimenting there was a definite method to creating the outcome. I first held a corner of the photo sensitive paper (using the same as above – Ilford Multigrade IV Resin Coated 5 x 7, Satin Darkroom B&W Paper) in to the developer solution for a minimum of three seconds, moving the corner of the paper covered continuously which created waves of the chemical of the paper at different intensities, to create the layers. Then by blending stop bath in to the developer whilst on the photosensitive paper they reacted together to create more colourful depth. i had great fun making these experiments, i loved the outcome and felt like i could become lost in the dark room for hours in the future which i intend to keep using to improve my work and create interesting results.