Sitting In The Dark


Sitting here in the dark is very comforting. It is not as dark as it once was, but that is not a bad thing.

This room started life as a bedroom in the Webb & Brown-Neaves builder’s plan. The design had 5 of the things dotted over the slab but as we only had three family members at the time – and two of them shared the same bed* – we felt it would be fair leave one bedroom for them, combine two more into a super-bedroom for the squalling infant, and give one each to the exhausted parents as hobby rooms or retreats.

I got the back bedroom, and the builder was horrified when I asked for a sink to be plumbed into the built-in wardrobe instead of hanging space. He thought I had gone mad. As the sink was very near the plumbing for the back bathroom, it was perfectly feasible, and he did it, but under protest. I did not have the heart to tell him not to bother putting a window in the brick wall as he might have called the authorities and had me hauled away.

You see, I wanted a darkroom. A dark darkroom, so that sheet film could be loaded and unloaded. I had to resort to a roller blind and a coat of black paint on the inside of the window to achieve the total block-out, but this meant that if we ever sell the house we can scrape the paint off and make it into a bedroom again – albeit one with a sink in the closet.

Well, it worked. For 23 years it was a good darkroom/workroom/modelling space. Then digital started for me and I wondered if I should scrape those windows and throw out the sink – fortunately I did not.

As a photographic room, it is even more useful – the fact that there is no external light means I can run an iMac screen and get good correlation between what I see and what is actually being shown – also my calibration setup is simpler and cheaper than might otherwise be needed. There is ample space for scanner, printer, and inspection light on the bench top that held a large colour processor, and the reduction in size of digital equipment means the storage space once given over to large format cases is not a jumble any more.

The fumes are gone. The carcinogens are gone. The water vapour is gone. Things and I will last better.

Of course, like any photographer’s space, it is never enough to store and display work –  or even to adequately house photographic books and magazines – but I have a studio house that can take some of this burden. Here is the after-shoot work space with close access to computer, coffee pot, refrigerator, cocktail cabinet, and bed. And if I write particularly foul blog posts I can always go across to the closet, open the door, and wash my hands of the lot of it…

Heading image: The floor is vinyl sheet but has been rather worn in 35 years. We will have to re-carpet the house soon and I will have new sheeting put down. The boots are $ 7 Ugg slippers from Big W. The hair is real.

* Still do. Sharing the same set of blankets on cold nights is another story…



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