Darkrooms are no longer relevant in the age of digital photography | Local News
Once a necessary tool for professional photographers, darkrooms found in photo studios, newsrooms, and college campuses are now used as broom closets or nap rooms. Today’s photographers have everything they need to instantly produce a quality image.
The era of digital photography has made it easier and faster to capture the perfect image. When photographers were forced to develop film in darkrooms, they didn’t know if they had taken a good image until the photo was developed.
Long-time photographer Peter Henshaw said the process of developing black-and-white film takes about 45 minutes with drying, and mistakes could damage the film during the process.
“With digital, you can pretty much tell if you’ve got a decent picture as soon as you look at the back of the camera,” he said. “If the exposure is bad, you can adjust.”
While working for the Muskogee Phoenix, Henshaw would shoot about 10 reels of 36 exposure film at basketball games. He should go back to the darkroom to develop the film, select a few good images, scan the images into a computer, then send them to the sportswriters. It took him about two hours from the time he got back to the darkroom.
“With digital, you can send in-game photos to sportswriters,” he said. “You also know if you have decent pictures while you’re in the game. If you’re on time, you can leave as soon as you get a good picture to help the paper meet the deadlines. It makes the process much more efficient. .”
These days almost everyone has a camera in their pocket. Although smartphone cameras have improved dramatically over the years, with the ability to capture high-resolution images, they can’t stand up to the quality of a fine digital camera.
Alicia and Tristan McDowell of MoonDance Photography said phone companies had developed an algorithm to improve the appearance of photos on social media.
“On one of our cameras, when we take a raw photo, it’s 30 megs,” Tristan said. “An image on a phone is about 1.4MB. This shows you how much more information a regular camera takes in, as opposed to your phone’s camera.”
So photos taken with a smartphone may look good online, but upon closer inspection, they look distorted.
“A digital camera could take a picture for a billboard or something,” Tristan said. “If you start magnifying an image on a cell phone, it’s going to get really bad really fast.”
Digital cameras are also better for taking action shots or capturing images at night.
Photographers know how expensive digital cameras and different lenses can be. They can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands. More expensive cameras have higher shutter speeds and are able to capture low light images.
“The reason these lenses that you see sports photographers using are so big is that they can let a lot of light into the camera sensor,” Henshaw said. “It helps them stop the action with a higher shutter speed because the lens lets more light into the camera.”
There are a myriad of different lenses that paparazzi can use. There are wide angle lenses, telephoto lenses and macro lenses, to name a few. And spending more money on a quality lens produces a higher quality image.
“It’s definitely worth it,” Tristan said. “I will say the lens is actually the most important thing. A good lens on a bad camera will always present a better picture than a bad lens on a good camera.”
The editing tools are also more advanced than ever. Adjusting the contrast and brightness of a photo prevents images from being too dark or too light.
And for professionals who want to give their clients the perfect shot, programs like Photoshop or Lightroom are a must.
“Photoshop is important, but I love using Lightroom,” Alicia said.
“I edit every shot that goes to my clients. I even edit the ones I post on Facebook. So I don’t post a photo that hasn’t been edited, or at least color corrected. I don’t do a ton of editing.”