Community Darkrooms in Chicagoland

Good news! This place opened in May. It’s a few feet from the Kennedy, just before downtown, a great location:

This  is the only one of the places listed here that I’ve seen: It’s in the Norris Center on Northwestern’s campus in Evanston (right below the cafeteria!), and parking is problematic (but I can explicate it for you). For everyone’s benefit and safety, one takes a short quiz the first time, so they know that you know what you’re doing.

These are located in Park District fieldhouses: The practical ones for you to consider are the 2nd and the 4th.

(I came across a nice older apartment building for students near Loyola that features studio space, rehearsal space, and darkroom space, but upon further investigation the word “bedbugs” appeared. ‘Nuff said.) (As well, many of the rehearsals were scheduled in mid-night.)

If you are aware of a darkroom on your campus, especially if your major is not Photography or any sort of art, please let us know about it so we can spread the word. Also, the offer still stands: all the technical information you need in order to set up or restore a campus/dorm darkroom is yours for the asking.

W. o’ W.: Bill Brandt

To be able to take pictures of a landscape I have to become obsessed with a particular scene. Sometimes I feel that I have been to a place long ago, and must try to recapture what I remember. When I have found a landscape which I want to photograph, I wait for the right season, the right weather, and right time of day or night, to get the picture which I know to be there.

I always take portraits in my sitter’s own surroundings. I concentrate very much on the picture as a whole and leave the sitter rather to himself. I hardly talk and barely look at him. This often seems to make people forget what is going on and any affected or self-conscious expression usually disappears. I try to avoid the fleeting expression and vivacity of a snapshot. A composed expression seems to have a more profound likeness. I think a good portrait ought to tell something of the subject’s past and suggest something of his future.

In 1926, Edward Weston wrote in his diary, “The camera sees more than the eye, so why not make use of it?” My new camera saw more and it saw differently. It created a great illusion of space, an unrealistically steep perspective, and it distorted.

When I began to photograph nudes, I let myself be guided by this camera, and instead of photographing what I saw, I photographed what the camera was seeing. I interfered very little, and the lens produced anatomical images and shapes which my eyes had never observed.

I felt that I understood what Orson Welles meant when he said “the camera is much more than a recording apparatus. It is a medium via which messages reach us from another world.”

I am not interested in rules and conventions … photography is not a sport. If I think a picture will look better brilliantly lit, I use lights, or even flash. It is the result that counts, no matter how it was achieved. I find the darkroom work most important, as I can finish the composition of a picture only under the enlarger. I do not understand why this is supposed to interfere with the truth. Photographers should follow their own judgment, and not the fads and dictates of others.

Photography is still a very new medium and everything is allowed and everything should be tried. And there are certainly no rules about the printing of a picture. Before 1951, I liked my prints dark and muddy. Now I prefer the very contrasting black-and-white effect. It looks crisper, more dramatic and very different from colour photographs.

It is essential for the photographer to know the effect of his lenses. The lens is his eye, and it makes or ruins his pictures. A feeling for composition is a great asset. I think it is very much a matter of instinct. It can perhaps be developed, but I doubt it can be learned. However, to achieve his best work, the young photographer must discover what really excites him visually. He must discover his own world.

Read the entire statement:


#111 for Bill Basie today!

What’s a chweek?

You probably are aware that we “heart” Paris (and you thought this blawwg was only about fo-do & jazz). Follow along, won’t you? BHS alumnus Matt Kluk is digging into the City of Light: and then put this into your rostromedial prefrontal cortex:

*above: alleged photo of M. “Alain” Kluk

A Current Guide to the Wonderful World. Of Photography.

Here are links to pertinent previous posts:

W. o’ W.: Andrew Hill


“It’s easy to fall back upon what you’ve done, but it’s harder just to continue playing.  To me it’s terrible to play without the passion of music.  It’s the passion that connects, not the academic correctness.  The passion brings out the magic, something that draws the audience into you.  It was inspirational to discover that things aren’t static… the spirit of jazz is supposed to be built upon playing something different every time you play.”

Tweet, Let’s Eat

This is the first restaurant recommendation on the blawwg, and I cannot foresee a second one.

I had wanted for several years to visit a public house with a unique feature, but it simply was not in a neighborhood I frequented; plus I thought I would need “protection.” On several occasions, when one or another close friend of Mrs. D. was staying with us, I would suggest in jest that the conditions were safe to go to the place called Big Chicks; I thought that a clientele of macho females might kick my gluteus maximus, were I unescorted. My reason for going there was to see the art on display: all photography, and most, if not all, by local photographers. I since learned that the pictures were on display in the adjacent restaurant, called Tweet, Let’s Eat (also that the bar’s name, Big Chicks, did not refer to macho women).

During this past summer school session, I contrived to take our field trip to this particular neighborhood so that at least some of us could enjoy high quality work on display during a mid-morning snack break. The best-laid plans blah yadda blah: closed on Tuesdays! Rats upon my bed! We peered into the restaurant’s window from the sidewalk seating area. The beer delivery guy at the open door of the bar confirmed that the dining room was closed, then wondered aloud if our group were paparazzi. (Could that be a nickname for moi? Papa?)

Later on in July I had some time to kill between stops at O’Hare, so I zipped in to Tweet for breakfast. The food was terrific, and so was the coffee. I even got a complimentary fruit cup before my hash & hash! Best of all, I was sitting in the midst some of my heroes. When got up to pay, I told the guy at the register how I felt, and how to find me if certain of the photographs ever went missing. He introduced himself as the manager of the place, ad took me into the bar, which was not open for business in the morning, so that I could see more pictures there, and to a room in between (receptions? parties? spillover?) where there were still more on exhibit. All very cool. Go there, or at least look at the menu to see the photographers’ names.

5020 North Sheridan, in Uptown.

Work in Progess/Process

Not that anyone’s on tenterhooks, but some negatives are made, and what remains is what has been called the “photo-finishing.”

As a further preview, here’s a little sample ‘shopping:


Good news!

Oh, sure, I read “After Photography” when it was published, and I’ve been to seminars and panel discussions… now,

 this just in:

Your Next Film Camera

For 40+ years, everyone’s first choice was a 35mm single lens reflex camera. They came with a (fixed focal length) 50mm lens; most ‘togs’ second lens was a substantially longer zoom. If you didn’t know what kind of picture you wanted to make it wasn’t a problem, because the camera was so versatile you could postpone that decision (att’n. filmless folk: sound familiar?). Despite the impression that one need not look further, here are some recommendations for your next camera that are not SLRs.

120 (roll film) cameras comprise a spectrum of designs. Depending upon the brand, a roll of film captures 4 or 8 or 10 or 15 or 16 frames. Some are SLRs, some are twin-lens reflexes (TLR), and some are rangefinders (RF). (Hot tip, Thryn: TLRs are the biggest bargain on the interweb.) All make relatively large negatives, and it shows in the enlarged print.

Also, Ellie, consider a high-quality 35mm rangefinder . They’re small; they’re quiet because there’s no mirror, Thryn; and they’re easier to focus in low light. There are a number of excellent models other than Leica (the Holy Grail): Canonet, Konica Hexar, Olympus Stylus. This is by no means a complete list. Also, be aware that, back in the day, Canon and Olympus made half-frame rangefinders (seventy-two 1×1/2″ verticals per roll).

The current likely sources, other than friends and relatives and neighbors, are eBay and craigslist. Be… fastidious.