Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Dancing with light

The other day I came across a link to the website of a French darkroom printer -- a woman called Nathalie Lopparelli, and her printing business in the heart of Paris.

What an enviable set-up. The tall atelier windows look out on a courtyard of cobblestones and potted shrubs. But what really counts is what goes on in the darkroom -- and this woman has printed for Salgado, Haas, Stanley Greene, Doisneau and other greats.

Traditional darkroom printing is an arcane skill, but her website has a rather marvellous short film so you can see for yourself. Watch as her hands weave gracefully in the light from the enlarger -- she is burning and dodging to bring up or suppress particular areas of the print, but to me she dancing with light, and it is as choreographed as a secret ballet in the dark.

If you have ever wondered why -- or how -- the black and white photographs of the real masters look as luminous as they do, the answer is that behind them there is someone like this, dancing with light.

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