B&W Paper Printing for a Beginner
Hi! I'm Michael and I just been introduced to the world of B&W photo printing, and after hours and hours of research, I am still fairly confused with the whole process. I hope that some of the pros out there can help me with my project.
My Objective: I am in charge of the photography section during a summer art camp. The kids(around 25 in number) are going to be split up into groups and are going to be involved in making several pinhole cameras. Each group will take one artistic photo with camera(or maybe 2 if the exposure fails) I will then be mainly in charge of getting the photos developed into negatives, and then contact printing several individual negatives into multiple positives for each member of the group to have a copy.
My proposed process and materials(this is where I need a lot of input):
*Keep in mind that the darkroom/developing will likely take place only in one day and not continually. ALSO I am on a VERY tight budget for the darkroom and materials; were talking under $40, so frugal ideas are very welcome AND needed.
1) After constructing several pinhole cameras and collecting materials, I plan on getting the darkroom chemicals and supplies ready to be used. The chemicals can be mixed and placed using the regular room light, without any harmful effects, correct? To mix them, can I use any type of plastic or glass container? Also, are 5x7 "developing trays" necessary for the process or can any type of plastic/metal tray be used? DIY ideas?
2) Once the darkroom is set up, I will open the RC Paper (is www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/755287-REG/Ilford_1168309_... a good product for my purposes? Is anyone familiar with MultiTone RC paper?) and place it into pinhole cameras under the light of a "safelight". THIS IS WHERE I NEED HELP: because of my tight budget and $20 already being spent on paper, I cant afford to buy an actual amber/red safelight, etc. My first option would be to use a mini Maglite(flashlight) that has dark red attachable filter to it (I think it's original use was for astronomy purposes). It is very dim, so I may have to either attach it to my head or have someone else hold it and shine it directly on the paper/instruments. Is that okay? Option 2: I also have a light green nightlight that is very dim and barely outlines things 4-5 feet away: Would that work better? If I have to, I'm also willing to buy a brighter red LED strip or red CFL.. suggestions?
3) Once the pinhole cameras are stuffed and the shutters and lids are closed, I plan on taking them outside to be exposed to the scene. When I lift the shutter, is 15-20 seconds a good estimated time of how long to let it expose in bright to semi-bright light, or should I test it before hand to be sure? I will then close the shutter.
4) When the paper has been exposed, I will take the cameras back to the darkroom. QUESTION: How long can I wait between initially exposing the photos and beginning the process to develop them? Does it matter? With my chemicals prepared and in the trays, I will begin this process: A. take one of the photos out and insert it into the Kodak Dextol developer for 90-120 seconds, agitating the tray continually? At this point do I need to handle the photos with "PHOTO TONGS" or will latex gloves do just fine? (I've seen that some use a water "pre-rinse" for 30 seconds before the developer, helpful?) B. After the developer, I will let the photo drip off and then place it into a stop-bath for 30-45 seconds. I've read that a lot of people just use water, but I think a chemical solution will work best especially because of time. I'd also not like to buy an actual stop bath solution if I can help it so will white distilled vinegar diluted to 2% acid work? C. From there, I will move it to a Kodak Fixer solution, during which I will agitate continually for 5 minutes.. If time is of the essence, can the time be reduced to lets say 3 or 4 minutes? D. I will move it to a final water rinse for about 5 minutes, continually running/replacing water? E. For drying, does letting the prints drip, gently wiped with a paper towel, and hung up with a clothesline sound like a good method?
5) At this point, my goal is to make several positives from the negative I have just developed. This link: users.rcn.com/stewoody/darkcam2.htm says to put the developed negative emulsion-side down on top of an unexposed sheet of RC paper emulsion side up, and to lay a sheet a glass over the "photo sandwich". Upon completion, flash a 15W white light bulb 3-feet away for a couple of seconds. If the positive turns out correct, develop it using the above mentioned processes. I then plan on enclosing the prints in plastic photo sleeves.
6) Storage: Because this will most-likely be a one-day thing, do I need to plan on storing the chemicals once I'm through.. if so, do I need special containers? Best way to dispose of them?
*****NOTE******* : Because I could be potentially developing around 25 photos, is it possible to do multiple prints at once? Any methods? ALSO, how often should I replace the chemicals and which ones?....Because I am being exposed to alot of chemicals and I'm not sure how vented the darkroom will be, should a wear a breathing mask to be safe?
Any more TIPS and SUGGESTIONS????????
I REALLY hope that any of you can answer a FEW(just pick some) if not ALL of my questions during this note. It would be most APPRECIATED!!!!!!!!!