Friday, September 20, 2013

Photography, Colds, and Writing

Thank goodness it's Friday. Truly.

Do you know that annoying person who doesn't cover their mouth when they cough? And not just once or twice, accidentally; people who cough into the air of their room, go upstairs and cough in your living room, and in your kitchen, all over your food...

Yea, I'm talking about a member of my family. My youngest brother -- who just started 6th grade -- never covers his mouth when he coughs, and now the rest of the family has it. Mostly me at this point -- he's had it several days, then my mom and sister fell sick, and my dad, and now me, the girl whose time spent happily locked up in her room serves a useful purpose.

Except now I've been sneezing and my nose dripping; I've been covertly wiping liquid snot-stuff over the sleeves of my jacket all school day. (Yes, and I am one of those people who goes to school even when she's sick, and so gets everyone else sick. We all have our flaws.) My throat
feels like sand has gritted the inside of that tube that leads from your mouth to your lungs. My eyes are sore and sticky, and I haven't slept or showered since Wednesday. Or Tuesday. But I've finally caught up on most of the school stuff I needed doing.

Thankfully, in spite of the Cold from Dante's Inferno,* I have not had a terrible time. I made my first primitive photograph in photography class. Here's the process:

  • First, you have to expose a sheet of photo (light sensitive) paper to white light in the dark room. This means positioning it under a machine that looks sort of like a microscope, except it shines down light on the thing you're doing instead of observing it closely. And it means adjusting that machine to the right setting of intensity, making sure the light is focused, making sure the frame of light is big enough to cover the entire sheet of photo paper...
  • Exposing takes about five seconds. You position the photo paper beneath the enlarger (so the microscope-like machine is called), position the object whose image you want to make on top of it, and then you turn it on and white light floods the little area of paper. 
  • After that, you dip it in a chemical called Dektol (developer), a soapy-like, basic liquid. Basically, it makes the white photo paper turn black, except for the white shape of your object. You keep it there a minute to a minute and a half. 
  • The second chemical you dip it in is called Stop Bath. It's a yellow color, because when you transfer the paper from Tray A to Tray B, some Dektol inevitably ends up in the tray of Stop Bath. Stop Bath actually is an acid, so it neutralizes the Dektol. Eventually, as the effectiveness of the Stop Bath wears down, it turns a purple-y color, thereby alerting you to change the liquid. You keep it in this tray for 30 seconds. 
  • The THIRD chemical is a smelly (vinegar-like) liquid called fixer. It makes the image permanent. You dip it in there for 3-4 minutes. 
  • Finally, you get to rinse the residual chemicals off the paper by putting it in this large, round sink for ten minutes. The water spins around, so it can wash it properly. 
  • Then you squeegee it. You lay the paper on a piece of plexiglass, and use this rubber thing to scrape the excess water off both sides of the paper.
  • Next, there's what's called a print dryer. It's a machine in which you lay the paper on its flat surface, pull a stretch of worn, warm canvas over it, and lock it into place. You rub the canvas for a minute, unlock the canvas's metal-rimmed edge from the side of the machine, and turn your photograph over to the back side. Then you lock it into place and rub the canvas for another minute.
  • Found here, via Wiki/CC. This is what it's supposed to look like!
  • And voila! Your photograph is ready. As long as you didn't mess up on any stage of the process. 

So, yes, that's the entire process I went through, to end up with a black paper, no image. Apparently, I didn't expose the paper correctly, though my teacher assured me I did the chemical part correctly.

How was that for a story? Well, not really a story. More of an anecdote of how to make it through a class period when you barely know what you're doing. And, speaking of stories, the third draft of my story is turning out suck-ish, thank you for asking. I'm so sick and busy that when I do get a free moment to work on it, I find that I want to sleep instead of write, and nothing comes out onto the paper. (Metaphorically speaking, of course. I type my stories out on my laptop.)

But anyways, for those of you who didn't know, this is how you make a photograph without a camera! It's an interesting experience. Hopefully, I'll make an image next class. And also hopefully, by next class my nose won't be dripping into the water wash.

Hope you have a blessed Friday and weekend! Get better at the things you love, get over sicknesses, and get a proper amount of sleep!

*You know by Dante's Inferno I mean the h-word, right? The devil's homeplace? I just have a ton of trouble including even the mildest of inappropriate words, in both speech and in writing.

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