Secret Station by Eilis O’Connell

Secret Station by Eilis O'Connell, 1992
Hasselblad 501c | 80mm Zeiss Lens | Exposure f22 @ 60 seconds | © James Gray

Link to artist’s page: Eilis O’Connell

Taken in the early 1990s when the steam function still worked, now it’s long gone. Situated on one of the busiest roads into Cardiff Bay, the site was ideal for boosting the image of the new Cardiff Bay development that began in the late 1980s and continued throughout the 1990s. It was commissioned by Cardiff Bay Arts Trust in 1992.

I took the picture as part of a Black and White Landscape course at Ffotogallery, the national development agency for photography in Wales. In the space of a couple of years, I’d done several City & Guild courses that also included darkroom printing. Using a darkroom was something I’d never done before, and the thrill of watching your print appear in the chemical trays captured me from the off. Doing these courses helped me gain access to the Ffotogallery darkroom, and I did another class at a college in Copenhagen a couple of years later while living there. An opportunity presented itself when I moved back to the UK in 2006, and I built a darkroom in my house. My home darkroom lasted a couple of years before I switched to digital. If money and space were no object, I’d go back to a darkroom today in a heartbeat. But, you can’t deny the attractions of digital and being able to make images so quickly and cheaply.

This image of Secret Station was taken on a Hasselblad 501c and an 80mm lens. The film, a favourite, was Ilford Delta 100asa, which was great for long exposures as I could usually get a couple of seconds for an exposure even during the day. I used to expose at 80asa and extend the development in ID11…those where the days!

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