#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 107

#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 107

Day 107

My hands are beginning to sweat under the warmth of a duvet, two blankets, and a dressing gown piled over me. I wipe them awkwardly on my t-shirt, my range of movement very limited. I am sitting hunched over a crowded wooden chopping board. I take a deep breath and focus on the task at hand, my eyes squinting in the dim makeshift red light by my side.

I bring my cardboard template of 120 film and carefully mark a line next to the edges. I take it away and feel around for the marks on the photographic paper. They are hard to spot in the dark but I do and score them until I feel the wood of the chopping board below.

I create four sheets of paper to fit in one of my medium format camera, stuff them inside my processing tank, making sure to close the lid as tightly as I possibly can, and throw the covers away from me.

‘I need a better dark space,’ I mumble as I jerk my body upright, the light breeze coming from the window a relief on my skin. But I know I won’t really get a better dark space for a while. I can turn my bathroom into a darkroom but the process is long, requiring too much effort when I just want to spend ten minutes in it.

I grab my old folding camera and the processing tank with the paper inside safely protected from light. I slide them both inside my dark bag and transfer paper to camera. I feel the paper under my fingers, both sides sleek and slippery.


I lower my head in defeat. I forgot to create a marking on the paper so I can recognise the emulsion side without looking at it. With the fibre based paper I have used previously, it was easy to feel the difference, but with this resin coated paper, I have absolutely no idea of which way around is the emulsion side. I take a gamble, and load the camera.

I run downstairs, open the garden door and set up a shot by one of our mint plant. I take a light reading with my phone, hope for the best, and take the shot. I repeat the process three times until my four pieces of paper are exposed, all rated at different ISO. My hands slide under the sofa bed in the study and grab the soda crystals, cheap coffee granules, and vitamin C from their hiding place. I mix the ingredient together, the stench of fabricated orange smell and cheap coffee invading the bathroom within minutes.

I pour the mixture into the processing tank where the sheets of paper are, hoping they don’t end up all sticking together, images printing on one another. The timer goes off, I rinse the paper, coffee stain draining down the sink. When the water runs clear, I pour in some fixer and let it do its job, before giving the paper another thorough rinse.

I twist the dark funnel out of the tank and dip in for the paper. They are swimming away from one another, the emulsions not having stuck to one another. I pull the paper out and burst out laughing.

‘I loaded it wrong!’

Weak images with numbers written on them stare back at me. I guessed the light sensitive side wrong.

‘It’s back under the dark space for me’, I mumble as I drop the paper back into the water for a wash.

I repeat the entire process, cutting off a bit of paper at the right hand corner so I can easily load it in the camera. This time, I come up with images exposed on the correct side of the paper. I return to the study, sit at the desk, open my darkroom notebook, and begin to write my findings of the day.

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