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  • Dalice Trost

Slow photography, or rather, slow printing

I enjoy being in the darkroom and printing my photos the old fashioned way. Sometimes I forget this and spend my time on Lightroom and Photoshop. Then something happens to remind me how much fun the darkroom is.

This time the reminder came in the form of an ad for a workshop being run by PhotoAccess. Three hour sessions on four Sundays to learn how to use "Liquid Light". I had seen Eunie Kim's video interview when she exhibited the "Liquid Light" work that she did during her Dark Matter Residency, and loved the idea of being able to print on a range of papers, so I signed up.

First we had to prepare our paper in the darkroom (light exposes the emulsion so we worked with red safelights). It is surprisingly easy. Brush the emulsion onto paper. We started by using 200 gsm watercolour paper.

There are as many ways to apply the emulsion to the paper as there are people and application tools. We used brushes and sponges. You can 'paint' horizontally or vertically. One of the group decided on a swirl and it worked beautifully. You can be tidy, or haphazard, paint to the edges, or leave a border.

After the first coat we had to leave the paper to dry, hanging in the dark. We then applied a second coat. It seems that with Liquid Light, the more contrast you want, the more coats you apply.

When our second coats were dry it was time to print. Here are some of my efforts (these are iPhone photos of my images).

Stairs at Guthega Power Station - contact print from transparency created from digital image

Memento series 1 - Lebanese inlaid wooden box - enlarged from 35 mm B&W negative

Paris with the Eiffel Tower - enlarged from 35 mm B&W negative

Memento series 2 - Fish - enlarged from 35 mm B&W negative

I love using Liquid Light. Whereas regular printing processes allow you to produce multiple identical images, each Liquid Light image is unique because of the way the emulsion is applied. Unless you use some kind of automated process, it's unlikely that you will be able to replicate the brush strokes of the emulsion.

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