Analogue Times

From that time when I carried a camera…

And spent hours and hours in the darkroom. And I used to go to the shopping arcades in downtown Santiago, to look for films, papers, and chemicals. Talking about analog photography is like talking about archaeology.

It’s worth mentioning that it was – and in some corner of my heart, it still is – a passion inherited from my father. From him, I learned to handle Zenits and that precious Praktica that I inherited and accompanied me for so long. Because you would get the feel of the camera, and you learned to recognize its creaks and sounds.

And the darkroom equipment I brought from the Czech Republic, in a backpack that traveled a good part of Europe. That’s another story. If you didn’t end up dizzy with the smell of D19, you know nothing about photography. I’m talking about a time that no longer exists.

I still have my unusual taste for coarse grain. Did you know there was an ISO 3600 film? A madness that the guy who sold us rolls and stolen papers from I don’t know where used to smuggle under a little blanket outside the photography workshop at Las Encinas school. Friend, wherever you are, thank you so much.

I would push that film to the limit, and it had an incredible coarse grain. And, when it came to developing in the darkroom, I would go in at 9 in the morning and come out at 6 in the evening, trying to develop impossible, dirty, burnt negatives, extracting as much light as possible from them with hot water and other tricks. Those little tricks I learned from the technician (if my teacher saw me doing that, they would surely fail me). Then I would enlarge the detail to the maximum, and also make the tiniest prints. Overlay textures, make tracings with newspapers and magazine images. I became somewhat compulsive with experimentation. In the end, I discovered that I like taking bad photos, out-of-focus photos, blurry ones, with hairs and dirt on the lens. That’s what I have from that time.

The transition to digital was too hard for me because there’s nothing like the grain of ISO 3600. NOTHING. But the closest thing, and now that I look at it in perspective, is the horrible quality of my cellphone photos. Ultimately, that has been my transition, and here we are.

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