Flower Art Prints from My Darkroom Printing Days

Flower Art Prints from the Studio Archives

Here’s something a little different! 😀 When we were moving a bunch of boxes recently, I came across one with old work from my photography school days, including this distressed flower art print.

Going through that box brought back so many memories, and made me think about how much technology has changed since then. These days, you could probably easily do this in 30 seconds in Photoshop, or ask an AI program to create it, but back in the early 1990s, people had just started using Photoshop and the internet (not me), and even though there were some digital cameras, I was using film still, and did for many years even after digital cameras became common.

Back in my darkroom printing days, creating this image took quite a bit of work. I made it as part of an experimental color class where one of the assignments was to invent our own unique process. I can’t remember how I came up with mine, but here’s what I did to create this print:

  1. Shot the image on 35mm color film and had it developed as such (no cross processing)
  2. Put the negative in a color enlarger and printed it on color paper
  3. Ran the paper through black and white chemicals, which gave me a really flat B&W print
  4. Once the print was dry, I applied rubber cement to all areas I wanted to keep black and white
  5. When the rubber cement had dried, I put the print through color developing chemicals
  6. Once the print was dry, I rubbed off all the rubber cement, and this was the final result

The whole process probably took me about a week. I made a whole series of flower art prints like this (I don’t even want to think about the amount of rubber cement fumes I inhaled!) and they were part of my final portfolio. They look really dated now, but at the time, I loved them, and even sold a couple during our graduation show! 😃

These days, I shoot digital and do my post processing in Lightroom and Photoshop, but I’m so very thankful I learned photography back in the film and darkroom printing days. There’s nothing quite like watching your image come to life as you slowly move the paper in the developer. It’s meditative and exciting all at once – you can’t rush it, you’re standing there in the dark, and the image that began in your mind materializes in front of your eyes. It’s absolute magic and I still get chills thinking about it!

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