I’ve got more to say about the camera/car testing analogy, but I just saw this post today on DPR.
Maybe I’m in my dottage, but it took me back to my days as a high-school newspaper photographer. I worked in a shared darkroom, with collective responsibility for keeping the communal chemicals fresh, replenished, and properly mixed and labeled. Anybody ever lived in a commune? Me neither, but I am reminded of a great Larry Summers quote:
Nobody ever washed a rental car.
Now, in what passes for photojournalism at the high school level, missed focus is forgivable. So is harsh printing. So are thin negs (needs #5 paper? Go for it!).
But what is definitely not OK is missing the shot entirely.
So I always approached the labeling of the shared chemicals with deep suspicion. I, ahem, developed coping strategies that saved my bacon from time to time.
- Smell the putative stop bath.
- Sniff that self-identified fixer
- And — this was the bridge too far for my fellow photo-newshounds — taste the developer.
We didn’t have color chemistry to contend with. Nobody was selenium toning their prints. But viewed from my present perspective, this doesn’t seem like a safe move. But it worked. Dektol tastes vaguely like peanut butter, and Microdol like, well, I don’t know exactly, but not at all like Dektol.
I seemed to have survived, though. Or do you think my photo-geekiness is chemically induced?