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Matinee: The Basement Darkroom Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

12 February 2022

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 435th in our series of Saturday matinees today: The Basement Darkroom.

This is a 2:27 peek at a basement film processing operation in Toledo, Ohio, run by Logan Cox and Lindsie Pfeiffer, two friends who met studying photography in college. Grant Beachy produced it as part of his video series highlighting "people in Toledo that make me believe in the future of this city."

It occurs to us that in cities all over the world there are people like Pfeiffer and Cox who don't know any better than to make the rest of us hopeful. We suspect it's true even in the tent cities of the homeless.

Of course, there are always people who want to recall the district attorney and are outraged about shoplifting and various forms of property damage and all sorts of other indicators that the sky is falling.

But who cares if the sky is falling if you're working in the basement in the dark?

Nothing seems to phase these two, starting with the first scene in which a black cat insinuates itself. They laugh. "You want her down?" Cox offers. But Beachy cleverly uses it as the first scene.

We gave up film for good a long time ago after 20 years of working with it both professionally and for fun. While we stuck to black-and-white processing, a lot of our friends worked in color labs. But we don't miss a second of those darkroom days.

Still, we applaud Pfeiffer and Cox. The Basement Darkroom is a real business that offers both black-and-white and color film (C-41) processing with contact sheets. But they also do scanning and digital retouching. And buttons.

A person has to eat, after all.

Although, when you look at their prices, you wonder if they do eat. Retouching scans is $4.50 an image and restoring and scanning a print is $36.50 (and could be less, they point out). Either they rely on magic tricks or they inherited the darkroom and have a vegetable garden in the back.

Whatever their secret is, one thing isn't a secret. Their spirited enthusiasm makes us believe not just in Toledo but in Ohio too and, well, even the whole country.

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