How a photograph is developed

College of the Mainland photography professor Kristy Peet pauses while developing a photo in the COM darkroom.

In world of transient digital photos and 24-hour Snapchats, students in Kristy Peet’s photography class are discovering the power of permanence.

“Darkroom prints have a different presence. They are a precious object,” said Peet.

Snapping photographs is easy – developing and printing them requires an intricate, four-step process.

First, Peet projects the negative onto a piece of light-sensitive paper using a filter she selects.

“You can change the contrast with the filter, which can really change the mood of the photo,” said Peet.

Then she submerges the still-white paper into a developing solution, douses it in a stop bath and sinks it in a fixer bath.

“You gain a more thorough knowledge working in a darkroom because you can’t fake it. You have to know what you’re doing,” said Peet. “Most things you can do in the darkroom you can do in Photoshop or vice versa. The darkroom is where the Photoshop tool ideas came from.”

Students can alter exposure, adjust contrast or burn and dodge, a technique that changes the exposure of only a part of the photograph.

Some students take the course as art credit; others want to become better at recording events.

“I need to know how to take a good picture – lighting and focus is key,” said student Christi Baker, a safety technician for Turner Industries Group from League City. “If there’s an incident, I have to take pictures and document it.”

Peet’s photography has been displayed in many shows including at BOX 13 Artspace in Houston, Houston Center for Photography and ATP in New York City.

For more information on photography classes, contact Peet at 409-933-8424 or cpeet@com.edu.

College of the Mainland student Christi Baker shows off photographs she developed in the COM darkroom. The left-hand photo shows the varying levels of exposure.

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