Processing film and riding bicycles

Processed photographic film, especially black and white, has a quality of its own that is so different from digitally printed ones. This is well known. Photo-making in the darkroom is subject to factors — concentration, luck, speed of hands and eyes, patience, and so on — that are not significant in digital photo processing.
Rather than seeing digital photo processing as superseding the darkroom process, they could be better understood as two different technologies opening up different possibilities in the photographic art form. The products of either could be similar or distinct, but each process engages us differently.
Bicycles were never superseded by motor vehicles, although that appeared to be the case for a while. Riding a bicycle is a distinct experience, it is a different process, and although you may reach the same destination, you reach it very, very differently. You are transformed in different ways by each mode of transport.
And since art is probably about re-shaping oneself just as one makes something out of a tuba, darkroom photo-making today is as distinct and wonderful as riding a bicycle. Bring back those film rolls!


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