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MIT student blogger Jenny X. '13

Night Vision by Jenny X. '13

Funny how "photo"graphy throws you into the dark

This semester I’m taking Intro to Photography. For the first half of the semester, we were thrown into the darkroom. It might as well be a time-machine (film? what’s that?)….and a time-warp. The darkroom is time-consuming. I spent countless hours over the last many weeks pouring, shaking, and sifting, not thinking much at all except keeping track of how long I’ve been doing each aforementioned action. It’s brainpower-consuming — I can’t actually think about nothing when i’m trying out specific techniques to make what I see in my head manifest on paper. It’s emotions-consuming — when multiple test strips fail to produce what I want, I cry, if only there was a preview button.

For all the inconveniences of the analog process, practicing making non-digital prints has actually done something extraordinary for my digital photography life. (Photography people, try not to shake your head too hard.) For the past two years that I’ve owned a DSLR, I’ve never used it on manual. But observing the effects of exposure, aperture, filters quite literally in the darkroom has made me much more curious about all those settings on my camera — and the meaning of Instagram. Bottom-line: my friend who’s also taking the class says she enjoys going to the darkroom because it’s “therapeutic”. I can’t exactly disagree — where else can you close your eyes, dream, and still be productive?

Here are some of my works from the semester so far; the first is a rayogram, the rest are all 35mm prints. Feel free to ask any questions about artsy classes at MIT, or anything else!