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Blog - Leo Wight

Getting back into the darkroom.

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A young artist stands in front of a plinth with laptop and mike in front of a projection

Me giving my talk at the Tate.

I am finally writing my second blog post, it’s taken me a while to try figure out what to write about. As I am dyslexic, I find it difficult to communicate through written word and I avoid it at almost any cost. But here we go!

A lot has happened since my first blog post, which you can find here: introduction to my practice. I gave a talk about my practice at the Tate as part of the Tate Exchange programme FLUX/US. This was something I was terrified to do but was such an amazing experience.

One of the main things the Emergence Bursary has allowed me to do is become a member of Street Level Photoworks, where I can develop film and access their darkrooms and other photographic facilities. I work mostly in black and white analogue photography and so I love hand developing film. It really feels like you’re making something.

After I’ve developed the film I scan it on a Hasselblad scanner to make contact sheets. Once I’ve got my contact sheet I can see which shots are the most interesting and which ones I want to scan at a higher resolution or print in the darkroom.

Darkroom chemical trays.

Recently I’ve been in the darkroom making some prints. After about a year of not printing in the darkroom it was amazing to play around to get back into the swing of things. I love the peaceful experience of printing in the darkroom. It’s a slow process – it can take a full day in the darkroom to make one final print I’m happy with. You have to lay out all your chemical trays, set up an enlarger and place the selected negative in the engager, then you can start working out the aperture and exposure time you need by making test strips.

Test strips have sections of different exposure times so you can work out the correct one. Then once the paper is exposed you have to place the paper in developer for 3 minutes, stop for 1 minute and fix for 2 minutes.

After this you can look at your print in full light and check it for any dust marks and then you need to wash the print for 30 minutes and then leave it to dry. As you can see this process can be very lengthy but it allows me the time to really think about the work and engage with it for a long period of time.

I’m really loving making lots of new work, I’m starting to build up a lot of new images and developing a lot of ideas for this work. I’m still not sure in what direction with work will end up, I’m still taking a lot of new photographs and experimenting but I’m very excited about where this work is heading.

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