Saturday, April 16, 2011

Terror in the Darkroom

During grades 11 and 12, I served as the editor of the Leduc Composite High School newspaper. Here I am in the school's Visual Communications Lab sometime during the spring of 1987; I'm pretty sure Jonathan Wright snapped the photo, and I remain impressed by the lighting and the depth of field. Good job, Jonathan!

The lab featured a darkroom (hidden behind the wall to my left in this picture), and Jonathan and I could often be found in the dim red light developing negatives and prints. With the advent of digital photography, I wonder how many schools are still teaching kids how to develop film; I wonder if the school darkroom in Leduc still functions as such or if it's been converted to some other purpose. I love my digital camera, but I also loved experimenting in the darkroom. You could produce all kinds of interesting effects using primitive analog means. Even the mistakes could create beautiful results if you were fortunate.

One day, Jonathan and I were working in the darkroom and for whatever reason we were talking about monsters or serial killers or something along those lines to pass the time. We didn't know that our teacher/supervisor, Mr. Banford, was standing outside and had, quite coincidentally, decided to play a minor practical joke on us: he flipped off the light switch, plunging the darkroom into literal darkness. Of course we immediately suspected that some fiend was about to leap out of the inky black and slaughter us like helpless sheep.
Jonathan and I panicked, running blindly for the heavy steel revolving door that was the room's only exit. We crashed into it together, screaming and yelling, staggering into the harsh light of the main lab, a little bruised and banged up, but otherwise unharmed.

Our teach was holding his side, tears of laughter spilling down his cheeks. Jonathan and I were both a little annoyed, but we had to admit - he got us, but good.

Mr. Banford was awesome, and I thank him for encouraging me to work on the newspaper (and the yearbook), where I developed so many of my passions.

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