I have been photographing for two and a half years now. Have a great digital camera, good lenses. Got better at composing an image, at processing it....and yet, I never really understood what photography is. "Writing with light". Using light to turn a blank piece of paper into a printed image. Watching the image appearing on the paper, not line by line as it is spit out by the printer, but slowly taking shape under the yellow darkroom lights. Dodging and burning are no longer done by hitting a key on the computer. They shed their digital guise and return to their origin - manipulating light in order to shape the image.
Six weeks in the darkroom, four days a week, three hours a day. Does is always work as I want it to? Nope. Can I better control the image digitally? You bet I can. But if you had a pill you could take instead of eating your favorite sushi. Faster, more efficient, same nutritional value, would you go for it?
The true alchemists do not change lead into gold, they change words. Sometimes, they use light to change it into images. Pure magic.