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My Dad gave me my first camera when I was 12 or 13 years old. It was a Yashica Penta J. I'm pretty sure it fell off a truck before landing in my Dad's hands and, soon thereafter, in mine. (But that's another story.) At the time, I doubt my Dad could ever imagine how he had changed my life and that photography would become such a big part of it. (At the time, I sure as hell had no idea either.)
The Yashica Penta J is a 35mm, all-manual, SLR manufactured between 1962 and 1964. It came with a 50mm f/2 lens mounted via an M42 screw mount. It also included a small, clip-on, light meter. I was immediately smitten!
But there was one small problem: How was I going to pay for film, processing, and prints? At first, my Dad gladly funded those things. But the more pictures I snapped, and I began snapping a lot of them, the less enthusiastic he was about reaching into his pocket to cover those costs. Soon, I found a solution.
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In high school and on into college, I continued taking graphic arts classes. My first stint at college, in fact, was as a graphic arts major. I had no serious interest in becoming a graphic artist but the high school and college I attended each had darkrooms accessible to those taking graphic arts classes. So, I continued snapping pictures and taking care of the developing and print-making myself. And it didn't cost me anything!
Years later, I began shooting head shots for Hollywood hopefuls and others. The first thing I did was put together a darkroom in a small shed on the property I lived at. The shed had running water and a line to the city sewer. All that time as a graphic arts student payed off. I already had some fairly well-developed skills in a darkroom.
I'm only sharing this stuff because my understanding of what it takes to get a good print in the darkroom allows me, in some ways, to better appreciate the following article. You may or may not have ever spent time in a darkroom but, even if you haven't, I think you'll still appreciate the article linked at the bottom of the page and find it very interesting.
Some people act as if the art of wet print-making is dead. But as the Princess Bride's "Miracle Max" says, "There's dead and there's mostly dead."
Click here to see the article: Marked Up Photographs Show How Iconic Prints Were Edited in the Darkroom