Chirk Aqueduct revisited

1975 was a transitional time for photography. I was still taking black and white photos which I self-processed. Our broom cupboard was dark enough and big enough for me to get film from the cassette and load it into the developing tank. Once in the tank the chemicals could be added in daylight so that was easy. Once the film was developed, fixed and well washed it was safe in the light and could be hung up to dry. When ready, a room could be darkened and the safe light used. The film in the camera was sensitive to all light but printing paper was not sensitive to red light so you could see what you were doing.

I had an enlarger which was a bit like a projector. The film negatives were held in place and projected onto the baseboard. You got it all set up and focussed and maybe used a light meter to tell you how long to expose the printer paper for. You made a judgement about the quality of paper to use. Some papers offered more contrast than others.

With the enlarger turned off you placed your printing paper in place and then switched on the enlarger for the required number of seconds. Nothing seemed to happen, but you then transferred the paper into a dish of ‘developer’ and the image appeared before your eyes. You had to keep a watch on this process. Leave it too long and the paper turned black. When you judged right – still under the safe, red lamp, you transferred the print to the stop bath – which may just have been water and after a quick swish it went in the fixer. This removed the light sensitive chemicals in the paper so that you could see the image in normal light. But the print still needed a good wash and then a dry off. I had a drier which helped to keep the prints flat. My dad just left prints to dry and they tended to curl up.

Well that was a bit of an intro. I have already shown a black and white photo of Chirk aqueduct on this blog.

But it was a transitional time. My wife must have been using the little Canon Demi and was taking colour slides. That’s what we see here.

image002

That’s me on the tiller – not that there was any steering to do for the channel through the aqueduct was only just a few inches more than boat width. The aqueduct was to the design of Thomas Telford. The railway viaduct does rather dwarf it.

The arrival of children really caused the demise of the old black and white stuff. It was time consuming, space consuming and led to toxic chemicals being in the house.

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