Shine a Light On It

by Bob Poole on March 8, 2011

I had an Aha Moment this weekend and I want to tell you about it. I was rooting around the basement when I came across some old black & white photography equipment. One of the pieces of gear is a contact print frame. It is a very basic piece of equipment that you use to put a negative in contact with a piece of photo paper (all done in the dark) and then you expose it to the light. The next step is to put the paper through a 3-step chemical process that will give us a print that we call a photograph.

The Aha Moment came to me as I thought about how this process turns a negative into a positive. And, then I started thinking about the entire photographic printmaking process and realized you can follow it to turn any type of negative into a positive.

Here are the steps.

  1. Expose the negative to the light. Keeping it hidden (out of sight – out of mind) will not turn a negative into a positive anything.
  2. Develop. The first chemical used after exposing the negative to the light is called the developer. We need to develop a plan, a goal, an action list, a different attitude in order to begin our process of turning negative into positive. The thing to remember is that the photo developer is highly selective is what it affects. It only affects those areas where you have allowed light to penetrate the negative.
  3. Stop. The second chemical is a stop bath which is used to stop the development process. We don’t want to stop our own development process but we do want to stop the negativity. So, my advice is to just stop it. Don’t over-analyze it. Don’t have a committee give you their opinion which will take forever and probably be wrong for you. You know what to stop – so do it.
  4. Fix. Yep, the third step in the print making process is called the fixer. The fixer stabilizes the image and removes all the things you don’t want in it. What a great metaphor for fixing our own negatives!

I’d love to give you an acronym that you can use to remember this process. But, I know this isn’t likely unless you’re a photographer who has used a non-digital method to create photos.

So why write to you about this? My Aha Moment was personal for me. Like most everyone else, I struggle at times with negative thoughts and habits. And, what I realized this weekend is that often all it takes to change them is to start by exposing them to the light and bringing them out of the darkness. Sometimes we may need someone else to hold the light for us. And, sometimes we just need to change the picture.

Photo courtesy of sirwiseowl

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Becky Blanton March 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Fantastic post Bob!! I really, really like this! Excellent metaphor and so true about light, dark and change….bravo!

Bob Poole March 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Thank you, Becky!

Joshua March 10, 2011 at 10:45 pm

What a nice way to think about negatives. And just like with film, when we’re done, we are left with something beautiful.

Bob Poole March 11, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Thank you, Joshua. Welcome to the Water Cooler.

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