I think I’ve found it!

Yep, that secret ingredient that all those talented darkroom workers have tucked away in their locker that the rest of us know would make our prints ‘just as good’.

Yesterday was frustrating. While the printing was going well, nothing was getting to the point for me to be happy when the lights came back on. There is nothing worse than thinking “that’s acceptable”, rather than “YES!”

Arawa. July 2008

A good night’s sleep and then back in there this morning once a few odd jobs had been finished off. I pushed on with the same negative from yesterday, and about an hour in suddenly things started to get exciting. The work prints were starting to look BETTER. Maybe it was just fresh eyes and a bit more energy.

“BUT NO! These things are looking great. Hell, I’ll see some finished prints out of this session. Fantastic.”

What changed?

As the prints started to roll through I noticed something in the developer. It wasn’t that little extra bit of amidol I put in, or a chunk of citric acid or swirl of bore water….. it was a little nugget of gecko shit.

So forget tinkering with formulas, different papers, the temperature of the chemicals, water purity or enlarger illumination. It ain’t whether the fixer is a rapid fix or old dependable plain hypo. The dilution of the selenium toner doesn’t matter. Just listen for that little reptilian chuckle from the darkened corner and slide the dev tray in under it.

The prints will sing.

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