Magic of the Darkroom: New Darkroom Techniques

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Instructor Barry Umstead

This workshop is designed for people with basic darkroom skills who are looking to hone those skills and learn new darkroom techniques that can improve the quality of their printed photographs.  

Much of what separates traditional, wet darkroom B&W photography and digital B&W work can be found in the quality of the actual prints.  Digital B&W prints don’t yet approach the downright scrumptiousness of a great print by a master such as Ansel Adams, Ruth Bernhard, or Edwin Weston.  While you may not get to that level by the end of a six-week workshop, the goal is to get you closer to it.  

The emphasis of the workshop will be on each student creating a new body of work comprising images that are related in a meaningful way. We will be in the darkroom printing each meeting and new techniques such as split-filter printing, bleaching, or flashing will be introduced.  Come help the silver tradition not just survive, but thrive in the age of pixels.

PRE-REQ: Recent darkroom experience.  At the minimum, students should be able to process film and make a print in a darkroom on their own.

BRING TO FIRST CLASS:  B&W negatives and Fiber photo paper

Sign up for extra time in the Darkroom! Check out our B&W Darkroom Open Lab times!


5 meetings
Fort Mason (2 Marina Blvd – Bldg B, San Francisco, CA 94123)
Room 106

Instructor Bio:

Barry Umstead has been making Black & White photographs since before most of his students were knee-high to a grasshopper.  When he took his first Beginning B&W Photo class, Lyndon Johnson was in the White House so, yeah, he’s been doing this awhile.  While he cannot claim to have studied with Ansel Adams, he did once say hello to Ruth Bernhard in a local coffee shop. 

He has taught photography classes and workshops for several establishments in the SF Bay Area, including UCBerkeley, the Bay Area Photographer’s Collective, and, most recently, the much-missed RayKo Photo Center.  His own B&W photographs have been shown and published locally and internationally and were acquired by a regional art museum for their permanent collection.

Barry is looking forward to luring all sorts of students, newbies and old hands alike, to the gorgeous Fort Mason setting to introduce or reacquaint them to the awesome magic of making photographic prints in a traditional wet darkroom.  After all these eons, he is still truly, madly, deeply in love with the art form and is dedicated to spreading his love far and wide.