This class will be a basic guide to black-and-white photography, covering all the points taught in a typical introductory class. We will start at the beginning, assuming you know little or nothing about photography, and we will go through using your camera, developing film, and making and finishing prints.
Although there is much to learn, it’s not all that difficult. Modern films and printing papers are easy to work with and today’s cameras offer a considerable amount of automation, all of which make your learning easier. Automation is not foolproof, however. A camera can’t know exactly what the subject looks like and how you want to photograph it. Much can go wrong, even in the most automated cameras, for example, film that doesn’t load properly, autofocus that’s off the mark, or inaccurate meter readings. And, of course, there’s always user error. The more you understand about how everything works, the fewer problems you will encounter along the way and the more control you’ll be able to bring to the process, even when working with your camera on automatic mode. Photographic equipment varies somewhat in design and usage from one camera system to another so, if possible, keep the instructional manuals handy to supplement the information in this text for details specific to our cameras. Both in the darkroom and when taking pictures, refer to your equipment as you read the instructions. It will make understanding the process much easier.
In the next few weeks we will be going over some very detailed instructions and tips on getting started with a 35mm single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera. Our Vivitar cameras need batteries only to operate the light meter and they are great cameras for any beginner to learn the camera functions on. You can check one out from me if you like, but you can supply your own camera if you’d prefer. Automated cameras usually have a power switch or button that you must turn on to operate the camera. Keeping the power on drains battery power, so switch off the camera when you’re not using it. Manually operated cameras are often ready for use all the time, without having to be turned on. If you do supply your own camera, please make sure you have extra batteries for it in case you need them. Most camera batteries need to be replaced after shooting about 25–50 rolls of 35mm, 36-exposure film, depending on the camera model and other factors; for instance, the more automation you use, the more battery power you’ll drain. Some cameras have a battery power indicator, usually displayed on an LCD screen. For now, let’s focus on the camera basics.
This blog entry is also available as a one-page handout here and will probably be the only one I type out as a blog entry; every handout from here on out will be multiple pages and, thus, too long to make into blog entries.