Black and White Photography Darkroom
I have a black and white darkroom equipped with two Leitz Focomat enlargers. A Leitz Focomat Ic for 35mm, and Leitz Focomat IIc dual format for 35mm and medium format. A dry area for the enlargers and a lightbox, and a wet area for processing trays. Several red lights on the ceiling and mobile. An extractor fan. A laminate floor for easy cleaning.
I keep rough prints on the wall to remind me about images I must print.
limited edition hand print of ‘Occupational Therapist’, Gaza Strip
This print titled ‘Occupational Therapist’ I printed on Agfa Record Rapid fibre based paper. It is a warmtone paper. Has rich blacks and lots of depth. I used an Ilford warmtone developer. The black border around the image results from the negative carrier which leaves a space around the image if you are printing it full frame.
I am self-taught in the darkroom. There are so many permutations when it comes to printing. It’s best to buy a good book on black and white printing. Some of the things ou have to consider are:
- Assessing the nature of the negative, whether it is ‘normally’ exposed or ‘over’ or ‘under’ exposed.
- Multigrade papers are flexible allowing you a choice of grades using filters within one paper. There is also a choice of chemicals. It’s better to choose one type of paper and chemicals to start with so that that aspect of your darkroom work is constant. Ilford (Harman technology) make everything you need.
- Making test strips to assess which paper to choose. Which method to use: exposing 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 seconds, or in stops like 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 seconds.
- Mixing chemicals and keeping them at a constant working temperature
- Making a test strips then test prints, to deciding which grade works for you, using dodging and burning techniques to change the balance of the image
- Resin coated paper is easier and quicker to use but doesn’t have the same depth as fibre based paper which fully soaks in the chemicals, it is harder to handle but there is a marked difference
There are numerous choices to be made when doing your own black and white printing. The first choice would be the film that you use, how it is exposed and then later processed. The choice of film, chemicals and paper are all part of the same picture making process. Consistency allows for better judgement of the outcome.