Photographers Terry Gilliam, left, Mark Hall, second from left, and Chris Kasson, right, pose with me for a photo in this undated photo from the darkroom at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin. The only time this darkroom in the lower level of the new clubhouse was used was during Memorial, the Sondheim Cup, and the Ryder Cup. For those of you who are too young to know or your memories have failed, Gilliam is holding a roll of color film, probably one he shot at the tournament.
This darkroom is quite a departure from an earlier space in the old clubhouse where we set up a complete darkroom in the caddy’s toilet area. It isn’t unusual to use a toilet area for a temporary darkroom. It has all the required plumbing, a door that could be closed and sealed to make a dark working space, and it out of the normal flow of people.
Except it was the caddy’s toilet and we were required to give them access and any time, without delay.
About every 15 minutes a caddy who had completed a round and finished walking the course for several hours needed to use the toilet. Most stood at the urinal. Sometimes their need was more urgent and explosive. In the confined and almost hermetically sealed space we now called a darkroom.
Add the smell of darkroom chemicals to the odiferous leavings of our caddy friends and there were times when processing and printing were delayed. It’s hard to explain to a New York AP photo editor that you are going to be slightly delayed because a caddy just used your darkroom as a toilet.
Our move into the new clubhouse gave us a space that included a real darkroom sink, a film processing room that was built to be dark, and no need for a folding card table to hold the photo transmitter.
Eventually we no longer need the printing space when we began to use film scanners. Then we began to use digital cameras and found ourselves in the main press room area sharing space with the international crew of writers that always cover tournaments at Muirfield.
Now it is possible for photographers to never leave the course and upload their photos via wireless to an off-site location where a photo editor can immediately deliver photos to newspapers across the world.
That’s quite a difference from the days when it took several minutes to process film, several more minutes to make a print, type out a caption on sticky paper to attach to the print and then spend 30 minutes sending cyan, magenta, and yellow color separations across leased telephone lines.
I’ll take digital any day.