Mixing Science, History, and Art

In “Darkroom Techniques” with Art Teacher Maya Wainhaus, students learn the science of art while engaging in historical creative practices. Throughout their time in this class, students become masters of darkroom photography, completing every step of the lengthy developing and printing process with ease.

Stepping into the Darkroom lab feels like entering another world. A tunnel entrance keeps all light out, and inside is only lit with a faint red light. The room is filled with photography machinery and buckets of chemicals, all used for enhancing the photo at various stages of the process. At the start of the semester, students learn the basics, like understanding how to use the equipment, when to dip photos in the various chemical baths—and for how long—and how to operate a film camera.  

Currently, the class is focusing on understanding many types of different photos, and they’re encouraged to try new methods of darkroom printing. “I’m experimenting with my technique right now,” said Leanne ‘24, as she worked on her project. “I want to play with shadows, and find a way to make my shadow have a shadow.” She explained that by starting with a base picture of her own shadow, she could focus and expose the photo to light in specific intervals to create more shadows in the image, creating an eerie photo with a shadow that continuously grows larger and larger.  

Nothing about this medium is modern, which adds to the difficulty of the learning process, but also the excitement for the students as they succeed with their art. “We’re doing something the way it’s been done for decades,” said Maya. “And I think that’s really special.” 

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