Eco-darkroom Workshop at Gallery 44

Gallery 44 in Toronto, a membership based gallery I have been a part of for some years, has announced the following new workshop:


Sunday Octorber 24 *NEW DATE*, 10 – 4 pm
$180/ $160 (members)
Instructor: Laura Barrón


This workshop introduces an ecologically friendly alternative to black and white darkroom processing.  During the workshop participants will:
  • Learn how to prepare an ecologically friendly formula for film and paper processing.
  • Process their own film & paper using the green solutions.
  • Compare results between conventional and ecologically friendly developers.
  • Tone photographs using natural substances.


Laura Barrón is a photo and video based artist who has been actively producing and exhibiting since 1995.  She has an undergraduate degree in Visual Arts from UNAM in Mexico City and a MFA from York University.  Her recent projects involve video installation and photography.  At the same time, Barron has worked extensively with experimental photography using black and white, and colour darkroom manipulation with diverse materials.  Her teaching experience includes teaching University level courses at UNAM and Centro de la Imagen (Centre for the Image) in Mexico City, York University and Gallery 44.  Laura has exhibited in Mexico, United States and Canada.
Published in: on October 13, 2010 at 10:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Tidbits on Darkroom Chemicals

Based on a little information from the website (related to Silvergrain) and a bigger discussion with John Witcher at Downtown Camera in Toronto, I have learned the following interesting bits of information.

1.  Metol, a conventional developing agent, is so toxic that it dissolves users’ fingernails.  Bleh!  It is best advised to use tongs and/or gloves when bathing your prints in darkroom chemicals, and a photographer without fingernails can explain why.

2.  Uranium used to be used as a photographic toner.  Yoinks!  Uranium nitrate toner.  Although very, very few photographers use uranium toners now, they were available in the 19th and early 20th century.

3.  Anyone interested in engaging with a community of darkroom printers might consider joining – Analog Photography Users Group.

Published in: on August 26, 2009 at 10:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Less toxic darkroom chemicals

For anyone still working in a wet darkroom for black & white printing, there is product information for less toxic chemicals on the Silver Grain Products website  The following information is from Silvergrain’s website:

What is Silvergrain?

Silvergrain is a brand for high-quality, low-toxicity photographic chemical products.

High quality—Our products are at least as good as other comparable products in terms of image quality.  Silvergrain products are tested not only in chemistry labs, but also in actual production darkrooms, in the hands of demanding fine art photographers.

Low toxicity—Our products use fewer and less of the harmful chemicals, and use more harmless chemicals that work well.  It is designed for demanding fine art photographers, pro labs, photo educators and students.

Why Silvergrain?

  • It is safer to use than competitors:
    • It is least toxic to the human user when the chemical accidentally comes in contact with the skin.(+)
    • It is least damaging to the environment when the chemical is accidentally discharged. (*)
  • It is designed to minimize chemical waste, water consumption, processing time, etc., for maximum convenience as well as minimum damage to the earth.
  • You can stop worrying about toxicity and focus on the creative aspects, even in your temporary darkroom in your laundry room!

(+)Enjoy the extra safety margin from Silvergrain products while using the same darkroom safety precaution. (*)We recommend you check proper disposal options, and we provide that information as well.

How “green” is Silvergrain?

Silvergrain products are free of:

  • known carcinogens and mutagens
  • Metol, hydroquinone, borates and phosphates
  • non-biodegradable organic compounds: EDTA and DTPA
  • acetic acid, perfume and dye

(See MSDS.) These compounds are very commonly used in darkroom chemicals from other companies, but not in ours.

At Silvergrain we consider packaging materials and other factors to maximize product freshness, reduce waste, and encourage greenest darkroom life.”

The website has lots of information on various less toxic chemicals, as well as darkroom tips and purchasing information.  Orders can be placed through various online stores.  Silvergrain products are also available at B&H in New York City.

Published in: on June 29, 2009 at 1:43 am  Comments (1)