For many ardent film photographers, the process is not complete until one has a print of their photo in their hands. Creating a darkroom print is one of the most magical experiences traditional photography offers. If you’ve been shooting film, you might as well go all the way and give darkroom printing a try, with the help of a quick guide from ILFORD.
ILFORD Photo has been generous with the learning resources and black and white photography inspiration shared on their YouTube channel. Among the resources is a quick tutorial covering everything beginners need to know about making darkroom prints. It’s especially helpful for those planning to set up their own darkroom for developing and printing films.
First, the video gives a rundown of all the items needed; negatives, developing equipment, chemicals, etc. Next are some tips for preparing the chemicals, the volume and dilution to mix, and the paper developers recommended for beginners. What is very important here is working in a red safelight. There are also some useful tips for best practices like maintaining the temperature, and using trays with different colors and labels for each chemical.
The video also explains the process involved for using the enlarger, focusing the image, setting the aperture to f8, attaching the filter, and making the test print. Once that’s ready, the next steps are to develop, stop, and fix the test print image on the photo paper. This will help you determine the right exposure time for the final image. Repeat the steps for the test print, except expose the entire image with the exposure time you decided on. After the fixer bath, wash the final print as suggested. Then, you’re done making your first print!
All these steps and requirements may suggest that darkroom printing is a tedious and meticulous process. And to some degree, it is. But, consider that everything described and recommended here as the ideal setup and process for darkroom printing work — something to set as a goal for your own darkroom!
Don’t forget to visit the ILFORD Photo YouTube channel for more of their black and white photography tutorials and inspiration!
Screenshot image from the video