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DARKROOM TECHNIQUES



FILM DEVELOPMENT

PRINTING

ARCHIVAL PROCESSING

MOUNTING

RESOURCES


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FILM DEVELOPMENT

The process of exposing, developing and printing the black and white negative allows the photographer a wide range of interpretations. By using different developers, dilution ratios or development time, the film can be developed to either increase or decrease contrast. I use T-max 100 and 400 film, which for me is very predictable and has a wide latitude. T-Max RS developer, diluted 1 to 9 in a Jobo rotary processor gives me very consistent results.


PRINTING

The next step in producing a final print is taking the negative into the darkroom. This is the stage of the process that I find the most exciting. A negative may be printed different ways to express a wide range of emotions.

Enlarging papers have different qualities that must be considered when choosing which paper will be used for an enlargement. Image tone and base tint are the two primary concerns and as a secondary consideration you should know how the paper reacts to different toners. Depending on the subject, I may choose a paper with a bright white base and a cold black tone or a paper with an off white base and a warmer black tone. Paper is produced in different contrast grades, 1 to 5. Grade 1 has the lowest contrast and grade 5 the highest. Multi-contrast paper is coated with two emulsion layers, a high and a low contrast layer.

To take full advantage of this type of paper my enlarger is equipped with a Multi-contrast head that contains two different light sources, a green source that the lower contrast emulsion is sensitive to and a blue source to expose the higher contrast emulsion. Many, but not all of the same things can be accomplished with graded paper by using different developers and other chemicals such as bleaches and intensifiers. Of course you can also use chemicals with multi-contrast paper, which further expands its usefulness.

Burning, adding exposure, and dodging, holding back exposure, to different areas of the print are useful tools in determining the overall contrast of the print and when this is combined with a multi-contrast enlarging head the possibilities are limitless. Different areas of the print can be printed at different contrast grades, this helps expand the differences in density in areas of the print which are low in local contrast such as an overcast sky.

Developer:
Kodak Dektol diluted 1:2 for 2minutes @ 70 F.

Stop Bath:
Kodak Indicator Stop Bath diluted as per instructions.
Agitate continuously for 30 seconds.

First Fix:
Nu-Fix diluted 1:7 with the recommended amount of hardner for 3 minutes.

Water Holding Bath:
Prints are stored in a large tray of clean water to await further processing. I sometimes wash and dry the prints at this point and finish the other processing steps at a later time.

Second Fix:
Nu-Fix diluted 1:7 with NO hardner for 3 minutes. Prints are transferred directly to toner.


ARCHIVAL PROCESSING

Toning to stabilize the image and insure longevity is next. There are several different toners that can be used. These toners can affect print color and final density. I prefer to use selenium diluted 1:8. This increases the densities of the blacks and gives the print a cool tone. Time in toner is between three to eight minutes depending on the degree of toning desired. After toning, treat prints in fresh working solution of Hypo Clear for three minutes as a washing aid. Then wash the prints for one to two hours in an archival washer to remove any chemical residue.


MOUNTING

The final decision is mounting the print. I always use archival 100% cotton rag board for mounting of fine art prints. Museum standards should always be followed, to insure permanence of the print.


Camera Techniques | Exposure Techniques | Darkroom Techniques

RESOURCES

Books and Magazines

View Camera Magazine

Arizona Highways Magazine


Workshops

Ansel Adams Gallery

Don Kirby


Equipment

Linhof

The Wisner Company

S. K. Grimes


Miscellaneous

Edward Weston


Landscape Gallery | Historical Gallery | Europe Gallery


Copyright 2004 Gregory Owens, all rights reserved
Last updated November, 2004
For more information, please contact Gabriella Owens