Saturday Evening Post #20: A Piece of Paper

It was only a small piece of paper, about 75mm square (2 1/2x 2 1/2 inches to be precise).

It was sitting on the bench top, vivid in its whiteness against the dark top.
Next to it sat three small plastic trays. Each contained a clear fluid.

I was given a small pair of metal tongs and told to pick up the paper and place it in the first tray. I did.

It sat on the top of the liquid and surface tension took over and it stayed floating only partially submerged. “Push it under”.  I did.

A clock with big hands started to tick the background.

And.  Nothing much else happened.

And after about a minute as I peered at the wet paper under the orange glow of the ‘safelight’, a faint change began to occur. Light grey blurs began to appear, and slowly they became shapes and the shapes took on form and tone, and eerily out of the white paper a photo of “Blackie” our cat, began to emerge.

After the clock ticked off its time, I transferred, Blackie, with a considerable reverence, into the second and then the third trays.  Several minutes later, “Mind your eyes, ” Dad said, and the room lights were turned on. And there sitting in the dish was indeed a photograph of Blackie. And, more importantly for the moment, one that I had produced.

I was hooked. At around 12 years of age, my life, as they say—changed, and a direction for life was set.  I not only wanted to know, I knew that I wanted to know more about this fascinating process that could make white paper into a real photograph.

It was a contact print from a negative that I’d made some days before.  And, yet, it was,in all its monochrome glory, a Photograph.

I had to know.  And in a small country town, I knew where to look.
The local library.

The journey continues.

Enjoy a great week.

_DSC9281 - Version 2_Aperture_preview
This is Thomas, my nextdoor neighbour’s cat. Tom used to come for visits and would sit in the sunshine on the window sill of the front of the house and watch the garden. Thomas is a rich ginger cat. Guess which colour filter I used to bring out the best in his rich ginger markings. I’ve resisted adding a tonal colour.


(The negative of Blackie the cat is long gone.)
The Header shot is pretty much a direct B+W conversion from colour.  No clever stuff, just Tom and I would spend lots of time working window lighting for effect.


12 thoughts on “Saturday Evening Post #20: A Piece of Paper

    1. And the tricky bit is there were no youtube channels, facecbook pages or photo blogs. It all has to be learned by rote.
      After processing many thousands of films, I still, at the last, had to take a sneak peak to be sure that it had worked correctly, the magic never disappeared.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. G,day, The fascination of the physics and the chemistry that made all that possible never ceases to amaze me. While art classes or pottery or sculpture competley eluded me, the vision of “The Decisive Moment” still rings today as bright and clear as that first print of Blackie.
      Thomas played a special part in my life and I treasure each photo that I made of him.


    2. Ha! Seems I am still anon-y-mouse! And yet this time it did ask me to confirm my follow!
      Thanks for your interest in the Heathdale – Glen Orden ‘project’ and your invaluable help in speeding up the communcations!
      Dave Nice


      1. Hi David, well at least your name pops up now!!
        I’ll have to looks see why avatars are not being used. Something has changed at WP HQ I think.

        Goodo on Heathglen-Glen Orden, I’m more likely to be able to help out during a weekday than weekend, just a matter of priorities. See how you go.


    1. Hi AB and this was back in the day of real silver rich paper, so the blacks glowed. And the development time was 3 minutes or more, not the super fast, semi black, 50 second papers that came much later.
      Its hard to tell a defining moment for some things, but this one was for me. Too much travel, too many house moves, too much to arrange, I don’t know how many of those old negatives survived although I do have a plastic bag somewhere from my parents stuff. Just don’t have the inclination to take a look.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is surprising what one might find in the parents old photos and negatives. My grandpa had glass plate negatives of his marine days and my dad left war photos which decided to ditch because they were too detailed. These are often not found till after. He left me 2 silk flags captured from the enemy in Bougainville, but no photos remain. Have an enjoyable week! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi AB, my Dad was at Bougainville, with an Landing Craft Group. There are a few bits and pieces left in a draw somewhere and I’ve often contemplated passing them on to the RSL.


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