TLF Tutorial Workshops

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The Light Farm Tutorial Workshops — Preface

December 2, 2012

The rains beat on my studio window. The winds tear through the trees and churn up the surf to the sound of Winter that's part freight train and part rock crusher. Morning light comes late and night falls early. After a glorious summer of working with "X2Ag" film, the weather drove me inside. And heaven is in the darkroom.

The TLF web workshops that were parked in the corner of my brain all summer are finally coming together. If nothing untoward happens, I will start posting them soon after my holiday company leaves and the Christmas decorations are back in storage.

In the meantime, there are a couple of items that you might want to put on your list to Santa. Although most items you'll need to get started are inexpensive and readily available at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Home Depot (and their many clones) a couple of things are specialty investments. You'll need a good scale, reliable to 0.01 g, a solid contact printing frame (I like the ones made by Bostick & Sullivan), and a couple of glass rod Puddle Pushers (I mostly use the 9-inch size.) Have someone give you 50 or 100 grams of silver nitrate (tell them about Artcraft Chemicals). Silver nitrate gets cheaper and cheaper per gram the more you buy at one time. A pound costs quite a bit total, but in bulk the price per gram becomes almost cheap as these things go. I calibrate my recipes to five to six grams of AgNO3, so a 100g goes a long way.

Before the web workshops/tutorials start in a month, you'll need to start pulling together a place to work — a dark'able room and a clean, dry, "studio" corner with good light. Five years ago, I would have assumed that anyone planning to learn emulsion making would be ready to roll. I wouldn't think of making that assumption today. And I've decided that's marvelous. Starting fresh is what art is all about. If you are an 'old hand' looking for renewal, or just starting out: Welcome! I predict you'll be making your own printing paper, or negatives, or both, by this time next year.

The Light Farm's newest contributor, Wendy Monahan, will be able to give you some very valuable tips and suggestions — along with great inspiration for building a home darkroom. Her husband has been calling her MacGyver! Wendy's article is here. For our purposes, at least starting out, replace the enlarger with a contact printing light (i.e. a strong incandescent light bulb near the ceiling with a pull string on/off switch.) The tray table over the bathtub will switch out to double duty as a coating area.

If you need to start collecting chemicals, our first recipe, "T. Thorne Baker's Handmade Chloride Emulsion, TLF Adaptation", calls for silver nitrate (AgNO3), potassium chloride (KCl), photographic gelatin (available at Photographers' Formulary), Photoflo 200, and ethanol (either Everclear hooch or lab grade). My favorite places to shop online are Photographers' Formulary, Bostick & Sullivan, Artcraft Chemicals, and The Science Company.

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