Why Did You Quit the Digital Darkroom ?
Old 07-13-2013   #1
CameraQuest
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Why Did You Quit the Digital Darkroom ?

The title says it all.

Stephen
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Old 07-13-2013   #2
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I havent't quit but now I'm back in additional wet b&w processing and have rediscovered the joy of film developing and my darkroom.
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Old 07-13-2013   #3
Andrea Taurisano
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I quit it because I realized that I spent the last 4 years trying to make files from my Leicas M8 and M9 look like Tri-X developed in Rodinal, when there was and there still is a more logical, easier, cheaper and more consistent way to achieve the wanted result: shoot Tri-X and develop in Rodinal.

(I still use Lightroom to process GoPro files, since they don't like Rodinal)
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Old 07-13-2013   #4
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I work at a computer all day for a living....when I realized that digital meant working at a computer in my off time too (jpg, raw, Lightroom, Nik, bla, bla...), well, the decision was almost made for me.....built a darkroom, got some film cameras, and couldn't be happier...
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Old 07-13-2013   #5
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Never, for color. I won't go back to C-printing ever. Still haven't started on the digital B&W. If there was a reliable B&W digital enlarger I might.
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Old 07-13-2013   #6
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Originally Posted by zsas View Post
I work at a computer all day for a living....when I realized that digital meant working at a computer in my off time too (jpg, raw, Lightroom, Nik, bla, bla...), well, the decision was almost made for me.....built a darkroom, got some film cameras, and couldn't be happier...
I think we'll see a lot of answers in this vein.

Digital darkroom is so versatile for preparing photobooks, online printing services, and cataloging my film prints. I'll never give it up.

But when I want to create, my real darkroom is my refuge.
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Old 07-13-2013   #7
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I shoot all formats up to 8x10 and the plan was to scan and do inkjet output. However I find my b/w prints lacking in tonality compared to the fiber prints I made before. Is it due to my lack of computer skills? Most probably. Will improving those skills result in wet room like prints? I don't know.
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Old 07-13-2013   #8
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Originally Posted by Rayt View Post
I shoot all formats up to 8x10 and the plan was to scan and do inkjet output. However I find my b/w prints lacking in tonality compared to the fiber prints I made before. Is it due to my lack of computer skills? Most probably. Will improving those skills result in wet room like prints? I don't know.
Yes and yes. It also has a dependency upon just exactly what your printing system consists of ... What printer are you using, with what inks and papers.

Making exhibition quality prints, whether in a wet lab or with image processing and digital printing, is an art that requires the right equipment, the right materials, development of skills, practice, and insight into how to get what you want from a particular photograph. There are few if any shortcuts.

G
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Old 07-13-2013   #9
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Digital never really caught on with me. I love the traditional silver process and I sincerely hope that film, paper and chemicals do not become unobtainable in my lifetime. For me, that would be a tragedy.
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Old 07-13-2013   #10
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i don't get any satisfaction from ink-whatever prints of my b&w.
i'm a lousy wet darkroom printer but the end product gives me a nice feeling!

Last edited by swifty63 : 07-13-2013 at 22:47. Reason: add word
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Old 07-14-2013   #11
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Having been a professional photographer who owned his own lab for 20 years, I've printed countless C & R types and B&W. In the early 1990's we invested in workstations, scanners and large format inkjets. I guess Photoshop 2 was where I personally jumped in, outputting to a Fuji Pictrostat.
Looking back the quality was awful, way poorer than C types of the time and it wasn't until we bought the Durst Lambda and early Fuji and Agfa D minilabs quality was 'good enough'

B&W though has for my needs at least never been good enough. I have several reference negatives I printed a while back and had drum scanned, despite trying on many different printer paper combinations, editing profiles etc. I've never come close enough to be satisfied with any inkjet/paper/ink-set combination.

Personally Its been a Quixotic pastime trying to mimic something that already exists, I mean Tri-x on Chloro-bromide warm base paper?
Did i really spend that much money time and effort re-inventing the wheel?

So now I print B&W myself and send colour out for printing as I find colour inkjets far from economic compared to outputting to something like a Durst Lambda (for the sizes I print).
Of course i have inkjets both Epson and HP and do still use them, mainly for proofs and the odd A4.

Others may feel differently but for my use wet prints are a high watermark, and one that inks have not reached (as yet) I see little point in investing any more time in mimicking something that I can do less expensively and with better results.
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Old 07-14-2013   #12
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I only had a brief flirtation with Lightroom etc. I didn't really like it as I spent all day in front of a computer anyway. Also, in applying 'B&W film, red filter' to a digital image, for me it felt inauthentic. Obviously we all have our own ideas about what's authentic etc. but for me it just felt like a part of the hobby I didn't want to do.

But probably the main reason I gave up digital processing was that I gave up digital cameras, to return to film cameras. It wasn't that the digital camera wasn't good, I actually really quite liked my Nikon D7000, but for some reason I just didn't feel compelled to use it. I saw it on my desk with a thin coat of dust on it one day and realised that digital was not for me.

I wish it was, I just spent £100 on film for a trip, and still worry if I got the right stuff (should have got XP2 in 120!). Digital takes away that worry, and the X-Ray concerns, the backups etc. For some reason though, I just can't work up an enthusiasm for it.
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Old 07-14-2013   #13
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I am another who hates spending more of my time in front of a computer, it makes my hobby too much like work, and I work enough already. I find analog photography fun, and a good way to escape from the 24/7 digital world.
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Old 07-14-2013   #14
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I grew up in the beginning of the 'digital era' and needed a DSLR, when I was 15 [analog was no option for me back then], but my mother did not allow me to buy one until I was 18. So I bought a K-x a week after my 18th birthday. When I told my grandfather about my newest purchase, he said "Oh, I might have something for you", gave me his OM2n and that moment digital was effectively dead for me.
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Old 07-14-2013   #15
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I will use any tool that will do the job. This year I have been blowing up a lot of my b&w film photos to a very large size and displaying them at art galleries. However, I look at the photos in the galleries taken with digital cameras and printed digitally and I do not like them. They have a phoney, superficial, artificial look, as if someone used inferior color film of yesterday, like Anscocolor. I suppose digital prints will get better but I've moved back to using a film darkroom for stuff I really care about.
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Old 07-14-2013   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
Making exhibition quality prints, whether in a wet lab or with image processing and digital printing, is an art that requires the right equipment, the right materials, development of skills, practice, and insight into how to get what you want from a particular photograph. There are few if any shortcuts.

G
Amen to that. I'd get practice higher up on that list tho.
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Old 07-14-2013   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrea Taurisano View Post
I quit it because I realized that I spent the last 4 years trying to make files from my Leicas M8 and M9 look like Tri-X developed in Rodinal, when there was and there still is a more logical, easier, cheaper and more consistent way to achieve the wanted result: shoot Tri-X and develop in Rodinal.
My sentiments exactly.

And, no matter how hard you try, and however good SEP2 is, you still can't make them look like Tri-X. So I gave up....and went back to shooting Tri-X.
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Old 07-14-2013   #18
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Originally Posted by sepiareverb View Post
Amen to that. I'd get practice higher up on that list tho.
Well, the list is in lowest to highest priority. You need the equipment and skills, then you practice and gain insight. In the end, the media, equipment, and skills become a given, and what really pushes you forward is the insight.

G
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Old 07-14-2013   #19
Godfrey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrea Taurisano View Post
I quit it because I realized that I spent the last 4 years trying to make files from my Leicas M8 and M9 look like Tri-X developed in Rodinal, when there was and there still is a more logical, easier, cheaper and more consistent way to achieve the wanted result: shoot Tri-X and develop in Rodinal.
LOL. "If you want to see Tri-X, shoot Tri-X." ;-)

I don't use any of the "film effect" stuff when processing my photos. To me it's a silly endeavor. I just process my photos to the way I want them to look.

G
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You left out the final question.....
Old 07-14-2013   #20
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You left out the final question.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rayt View Post
I shoot all formats up to 8x10 and the plan was to scan and do inkjet output. However I find my b/w prints lacking in tonality compared to the fiber prints I made before. Is it due to my lack of computer skills? Most probably. Will improving those skills result in wet room like prints? I don't know.
For many of us, is there enough time left to really reach that skill level, if it is attainable?
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Old 07-14-2013   #21
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Originally Posted by kuzano View Post
For many of us, is there enough time left to really reach that skill level, if it is attainable?
Sure. If you are able to do it in the wet darkroom, you can certainly achieve it in the digital darkroom.

".. enough time left .." implies you think you are running out of Time in a larger sense. I have a friend who took up the violin at age 78. He'd always wanted to play. Four years later, he was invited to play in a local public recital*with a string quartet, and spent the next year and some playing gigs with the group around their county. He passed away at age 87, after a year of increasing illness and disability. But he enjoyed the memories of his time playing violin with great joy.

One of the last times I saw him, he said, "I'm so glad I was brave enough to take up the violin when I did. There were times I thought I'd never learn it, and there were times when I didn't think I'd live to the next lesson. But if you pass your later years away not starting things because you don't think you'll finish, you might as well just drop dead immediately because you have already passed away."

I think that's just about the best attitude you can have about staying alive and loving life.

G
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Old 07-14-2013   #22
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What a brave and admirable man!
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Old 07-14-2013   #23
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During the last three or four years I've noticed the quality of the digital darkroom software has risen to such a high level that in most cases you are hard pressed to sort out whether an image is produced by film or by a digital camera.

That's all very good until you realise it's only because the software has become a lot better to mimic film...
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Old 07-14-2013   #24
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Originally Posted by Mablo View Post
During the last three or four years I've noticed the quality of the digital darkroom software has risen to such a high level that in most cases you are hard pressed to sort out whether an image is produced by film or by a digital camera.

That's all very good until you realise it's only because the software has become a lot better to mimic film...
The software doesn't mimic film. It can't ... it has no idea what film looks like. People who use the software use it to mimic film.

Image processing software has simply become far far more sophisticated and easier to use, and the hardware systems it runs on have become FAR FAR FAR more powerful and easier to use as well. So now it is much more versatile than it once was, which gives people the ability to realize their visual ideas in ways that weren't possible before.

Software knows very little. It has no mind.

G
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Old 07-14-2013   #25
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What a brave and admirable man!
I've missed him these past six years. He was a shining light, a brilliant soul. He stays alive and vital in my memory.

G
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Old 07-14-2013   #26
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I ran into problems with a misbehaving Canon S9000 printer. It used to work well, but at some point started outputting garbage. And even when it was working well, I got tired of putting out $15 apiece for each of six ink cartridges (and the current model uses eight of them). So my color shots are viewed on screen, and my B&W I shoot on film and print in my wet darkroom.
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Old 07-14-2013   #27
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I haven't and I won't. I don't really have the space to install a decent wet darkroom nor the skills to properly use one if I did. I get results I like from pure digital or by scanning self-developed film then printing digitally from there. Perhaps, in theory, someone would get better results from my negatives by wet printing. But that someone isn't me.

...Mike
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Old 07-21-2013   #28
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I cannot quit something I never started. Why to simulate photography on the computer if I can still do the real one ?
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Old 08-01-2013   #29
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I quit because of the realisation that, contrary to everything I once believed, it's not all about the image or the final result. It would be if I were a pro or believed my work was going to have some significance beyond my life. But I'm not and it's not. And that goes for probably 95% of people on the Rangefinder Forum.

For me, photography is now about deriving the maximum satisfaction from the entire photographic process. I couldn't do that with digital because, although the final result in many cases was better than with film, I hate using digital cameras, sitting in front of a computer for long periods and wrestling with inkjet printers and their outrageously-priced inks.

So I gave up digital about two years ago and went back to using just film cameras and making darkroom prints. I love using my Rolleiflex SL66E and the few Contax SLRs and Zeiss lenses I have. I've got more film gear than that but we'd better not go there.

OK, for some of you, the image that emerges in a tray in the darkroom might not have the same immediate impact as something that's been run though Photoshop and Silver Efex Pro 2. But so what? You'll have a genuine, honest-to-goodness, hand-crafted print that demanded a range of specific skills and not just a subset of computer tricks. Yes, digital is more convenient but, again, so what? Had digital never been invented would you all have given up film and the darkroom because it was too much bother? Not likely.

I love choosing the right film and format for a project. I love the development process and unwinding a strip of beautiful-looking negatives that are the promise of things to come. I love the solitude and zen-like experience of working in the darkroom. I love unglazed fibre-based prints. I have absolutely no regrets in ditching digital and I'd urge others who feel that sense of dissatisfaction (and I know a lot of ex-film shooters do) to do the same.
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Old 08-01-2013   #30
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There is just something erotic about wet printing, when I see in a show, exhibition or museum: silver gelatin print. And just like a photo of M. Monroe, can never (for me) be replaced by something new like a photo of Julia R.
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Old 08-01-2013   #31
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I spend 8 hours a day infront of a computer working in CAD. The last thing i want to do is spend the time doing Digital Darkroom work. Would rather be outside shooting so i do quick scans of negatives and very fast correction.
One day i will Wet Print as i have always intended to. I can't wait until that day.
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Old 08-01-2013   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Koolzakukumba View Post
I quit because of the realisation that, contrary to everything I once believed, it's not all about the image or the final result.
...
For me, photography is now about deriving the maximum satisfaction from the entire photographic process. I couldn't do that with digital because, although the final result in many cases was better than with film, I hate using digital cameras,
...
I have absolutely no regrets in ditching digital and I'd urge others who feel that sense of dissatisfaction (and I know a lot of ex-film shooters do) to do the same.
Exactly, its about enjoying it, not who can batch process 3000 images at once or this and that blah!
I ditched digital having never used film before. I still scan and print via a computer, but I've had that satisfactorily working for a while so its not a *new* skill to learn. I spend 1/10th of the time on the computer, all my images ever seem to need is some levels and contrast, 30 sec max. Its part because there are fewer choices I think, there is no "convert to b&w or not" type decisions, because its only b&w, likewise with coloured filter effects, they go on the lens now.
I'd love to wet print someday, but I'm only young, and I still have the negs for latter anyway. And honestly, I'd rather spend the time with my family and friends rather than in a darkroom at present.
Which brings me to why I gave up digital...I was sick and tired of looking at the tiny screen at the back of the camera after every photo to "check", just in case. I know you can turn t off, but it never worked for me. I just didn't enjoy it. Now when i have my camera, I take a photo, wind it on, and continue to enjoy myself.
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Old 08-02-2013   #33
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That's all very good until you realise it's only because the software has become a lot better to mimic film...
Only if you want it to...
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Old 08-02-2013   #34
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Why to simulate photography on the computer if I can still do the real one ?
Why try to simulate photography with 35mm film when you can just use pewter plates coated with bitumen of judea?
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Old 08-03-2013   #35
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Software knows very little. It has no mind.

G
I wouldn't go quite that far sir. Even the software is getting "smarter" nowadays eg clone tool. This is all easy to talk about on a forum...lets print some stuff...lets print it 19 X 13 and then talk.
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Old 08-05-2013   #36
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I agree it's about what you enjoy and as a serious amateur for 40 years, I don't consider more and faster with digital or scanning a priority or better. I also use a computer all day as part of my business and the last thing I want to do is be in front of a computer for photography. I get a lot of satisaction in learning new skills and have learned to do color prints (RA4) in the last year; being on the learning curve takes patience and sometimes you want to quit but then when it becomes easy the satisfaction is tremendous.
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Old 08-13-2013   #37
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Quote:
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The title says it all.

Stephen
Hi Stephen,

I've quit the digital darkroom because of the following reasons:

1. My daily work as an engineer requires working with computers several hours a day.
In my leisure time I don't want to sit in front of a computer.
I don't want to be a "computer slave".
I need something completely different to relax in my spare time.

Viewing slides (BW and colour) with an excellent slide loupe on a lighttable, and of course the outstanding and unsurpassed picture quality of slide projection give me the pleasure and relaxing I need.
1000x better than looking at digital pictures (and post-processing digital files) on computer screens.
By the way, the extreme low resolution of computer screens, and their incapability to show real halftones, is also another reason why I've gone away from Digital Imaging.

2. With film I can get excellent results straight out of the camera (especially with slides). No post processing needed. I just have the perfect picture.
In digital I need RAW shooting and time consuming post processing to get acceptable results.
Why all these efforts when I can get it right out of the camera with film?

3. Film just looks more real, more natural, more like "my own eye" for me. Digital has a more artificial look. To get away from this artificial look by post processing is time consuming and nerve-racking.

4. Making real silver-halide prints by optical printing in my own darkroom is a real joy, and much much more fun than all the digital work on a computer.
When the picture slowly appears in the developer, that is real magic!!

4. Costs: I've done inkjet printing of my digital files in the past. But it
- did not deliver the picture quality I was used to get with my own optical wet prints: worse half-tone reproduction (that is of course system-immanent with inkjet dot printing), and worse shadow detail.
And overall the detail resolution of my inkjet prints could not compete with my optical enlargements done with my APO enlarging lenses.

And the cost for my inkjet prints have been 2,5 - 3x more than the costs of my optical prints.
The behaviour of the ink manufacturers is a shame: One liter of ink cost 600 - 1000€, depending on the printer you use.

5. I like my pictures big (up to 2 meters length), in unsurpassed brillance and best picture quality.
The best way to achieve this:
Slide projection (colour and BW).
Digital Imaging can not compete in this field: The resolution of beamers is extremely low (only 1 - 4 MP), their colour reproduction is quite bad, and their prices are extremely high.

Therefore with classic slide projection I get
- by far the best picture quality
- at extremely low costs (one 2x2 meter picture cost me less than a buck in slide projection).

Cheers, Jan
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Old 08-13-2013   #38
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I never really got much further than the scanning, I far more enjoy sloshing trays than sliding sliders and doing copious amounts of dust removal.

Plus, scanners, printers etc have a limited lifespan, I've had many give up on me at one point or another, but even a half-decent enlarger and lens will last a lifetime.
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Old 08-13-2013   #39
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I quit the wet darkroom due to physical illness. I was so involved in the process that I actually got poisoned and had to stop. I spent years honing my craft and printed for other photographers as well. It was years until I could afford a digital setup and begin to print again. It is an entirely new experience and learning curve that's all. If you understood the wet darkroom, digital is not that far off. If you want it, it can be done. I learned Photoshop over 20 years ago. It was another 10 years before I could actually have it for myself.

Most of the darkroom skills and techniques I've learned can be easily transposed into a digital workflow.
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