Basic Darkroom Techniques: Printing Black and White Photos
|January 2, 2011||Posted by admin under Photography|
You should already have your negatives ready, and close at hand. For those of you who want to print but don’t have the equipment, check your local photography store for suggestions. You may also check with local photography clubs, and schools. Sometimes, you can use those labs for a modest fee. If you have an enlarger, then you are almost ready to go. You will need to have the following materials ready:
Kodak brand paper developer. (Usually Dektol, but as always check with your local supplier.)
Stop bath solution mixed to the proper strength for developing photographic paper.
Fixer. Also mixed in the proper proportions.
8×10 black and white, Kodak Polycontrast, RC photographic paper. Keep it in the packaging until ready to use. (DO NOT EXPOSE TO LIGHT.)
A darkroom safe light.
3 pairs of bamboo tongs for removing paper from chemicals.
flat trays to hold chemicals, and to develop your paper in.
a grain focuser. This will help you make sharp pictures, but is not absolutely vital at first. If you think you can eyeball it, then give it a try. You can make contact sheets without it. (Always focus before you put the potographic paper under the enlarger!)
And… of course an enlarger, or at least access to one.
The first step is to mix your chemicals. As always I suggest Kodak products because they are so widely available. Even with one product line, there are several different choices as to what you use. Therefore carefully check with a supplier, or photography shop. I suggest that you use Dektol Developer, Kodak indicator stop bath, and Kodak rapid fixer. See manufactures instructions for proper mixing for developing photographic paper.
After your chemicals are ready you will want to make a contact sheet of your negatives. The first step is to set the aperture on your enlarger. For now that should be f/8. Move the head of your enlarger down until the light from it covers about an 8×10 area. It’s ok if it overlaps. Set the timer that is attached to the enlarger to about three seconds. If for some reason you don’t have a timer, then you can count three seconds as you switch the enlarger on and off manually. Do try to be consistent in your counting though. After you make these settings. Turn the enlarger off, turn the safe light on, and turn off all other lighting. After you give your eyes time to adjust to the dim lighting of a safe light, take out a sheet of 8×10 paper, and line it up in the area where the enlarger light will expose it. (DO NOT TURN ON YOUR ENLARGER LIGHT YET.)
Exposing the negatives
With the safe light still on, align your negatives in rows on the paper as straight as you can, and carefully cover the whole thing with a large piece of clear glass to hold them in place. Look at the sheet of negatives, and visually divide your paper into about 6 vertical parts. Using a large piece of cardboard, (larger than the paper), cover all but the first of your 6 areas. Switch on the enlarger and expose this area for three seconds. Move the cardboard over, and expose the next area for three seconds. Do this for all six areas of your paper. Notice that the first area will be exposed much longer than last area. This is so that you can test to see what will be the best amount of time to expose those negatives. You will need this as a point of reference when you want to print 5×7 enlargements.
Developing: 90 seconds.
As soon as you finish exposing the paper, remove the negatives, and take it to the tray of developer and slide the paper into the solution making sure that the whole thing is under the solution. You should leave the photo in the developer for 90 seconds. You must also agitate the paper while itÕs in the developer. Gently lift the corner of the tray up and down so that the developer flows back and forth over the picture. By now, your picture should be visible.
Stop Bath: 30 seconds
Using the bamboo tongs, remove the photograph from the developer, let it drain for few seconds, and put it in the tray of stop bath. Agitate it for about 45 seconds, and remove it with the next set of tongs. Always use a separate set of tongs for each tray, and let the photos drain into the tray you just took them out of before moving to the next one. This will keep your solutions from becoming contaminated.
Fixing: 41/2 minutes
Next, put the photo in the tray of fixer. It will need to remain here for about 41/2 minutes.
Washing: 5 minutes minimum
After removing from the fixer, put the picture in a water bath, or rinse it for five minutes. You can also turn on the lights now to see your creation! Five minutes for rinsing is a minimum, and the longer you wash the better. Chemicals left on photos, or negatives can cause stains, deterioration, and fading. After washing, lay your photo on a clean surface and squeegee the excess water off. Your photo is now ready to hang for drying.