#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 104

#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 104

Day 104

‘So paper doesn’t have a fix ISO and it is sensitive to blue and UV light, not the whole spectrum,’ I mumble to myself as I write notes from a YouTube video I’m watching.

Over the last few days, I have grown increasingly curious about shooting on photographic paper instead of on film. I have no intention to stop shooting film, but I like the idea of shooting an image in camera, developing it, drying it, and hanging it on a wall without any further steps. With direct positive paper, it turns out I can do just that.

‘There’s less latitude too and more contrast,’ I add to my notes.

The video over, I glance back at my notes, scanning through what I have just learned. It is a complicated process if you listen to the Internet but I am convinced it doesn’t have to be as technical as this in practice.

My fingers hover over the keyboard of my laptop, itching to type in the web address my mind is whispering to them. Do I really need to get more photographic paper and explore yet another area of analogue photography?

I look around me in the study. To my left, on top of the film scanner, a small pack of photographic paper rest in a dark plastic bag hidden from sight by the cardboard packaging. The dark bag is mostly empty by now, the paper remaining inside cut up in all sort of varying sizes. I have used it a lot during lockdown to learn about solargraphy and lumen prints. To my right, there is a row of black empty film canisters, waiting for me to turn them into pinhole cameras. Behind me, under the sofa bed, an arsenal of darkroom tools is stacked up hidden from sight, ready to be pulled out when I need to develop film or attempt to contact print some film onto paper.

At the edge of the sofa bed, a storage unit is weight down by old cameras, random photographic equipment found and bought, and a plethora of paper, books, microphones, cassettes, magazines, and a box of administrative paper. Do I really need to add one more thing to this room?

I return my attention to the laptop screen. My fingers lower onto the keyboard and I begin to type Ilford’s web address. Within minutes, I have a selection of photographic paper put aside in my basket. I do not intend to buy them all, but they are all contender, I will return to later for a final decision.

I close the laptop before I begin another search on photographic paper and look out of the window. The sky is grey, clouds hanging low above my neighbourhood. The bright blue sky of the early days of lockdown are gone. I remember the rush of these days, the fear, the growing anxiety, but also the outpouring of creativity that kept me afloat. I have tried and learned so much thanks to the time that I have been granted. It is a double edge sword this lockdown, paralysing and freeing all at once. A blessing and a curse. A reflection of my privileged life too.

We are almost mid-July now, almost 120 days of being housebound and not working. It is more than a quarter of the year. Gone. I still do not know when I will return to work. My guess is August but I am not sure, my employer refusing to enter this conversation. I try to picture my life with work in it, but it is too distant a memory now and a part of me doesn’t want to think about it. How will I be able to create and experiment when my time will be eaten up by work again? I know my focus will slip, my time becoming compartmentalised, regimented. Preparation and planning will become key to my free time once more, the easy flowing rhythm of time constricted again, a watch by my side to remind me of its passing.

But this is for the future, I remind myself. For now, I am home, not working, and free to let my mind and creativity roam where it will. I leave the study for now and join my partner in the living room, a decision on photographic paper can wait another day.

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