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Thread: basics

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    basics

    Hi, I would like to start printing my B&W negatives, and I would like some information on the process. What equipment will I need? How long do I print it for? What about developing the print? Basically, if someone could give me a run-through on the whole process, I would appreciate it. Thank you

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    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Perhaps no two people have exactly the same way of working in a darkroom. Much of this information is available on the internet. For example, http://http://www.kodak.com/global/e...llCourse.shtml has a brief outline of what one needs. Your specific requirements may be different from Kodak's suggestions. For example, Edward Weston never used an enlarger, but made only contact prints. Most of us do use enlargers. Because many people are shifting to digital photography, enlargers and other darkroom items can be quite inexpensive. Others can be improvised. Chemicals can be stored in soft drink bottles and other containers instead of expensive containers made for the purpose. I've used dishpans and cat litter boxes (new ones!) for trays.

    Let us know what size negatives and prints you will be working with. Do you have a convenient room that can be used as a darkroom, or must you improvise?

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    I suggest a class at a local night school, or community college. Or perhaps join a local camera club.

    There are plenty of books in the library on getting started, and learning the basics. Far more comprehensive than we can write here.

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    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    More information I'd previously posted on another forum:

    Over many years I've set up 6 darkrooms for myself and one for a friend. It can be expensive, especially if you listen to salesmen who work on commission or instructors who have big school budgets. It can also be inexpensive. First, the function of the enlarger is to hold the film, the lens, and the photo paper in the right relationship, and evenly illuminate the paper. It doesn't take much of an enlarger to do this. A filter drawer for variable contrast filters is desirable. So is sturdy, vibration free construction. Enlargers can get out of alignment. Some have adjustments to correct this. Some others require some heavy-handed corrections. The enlarging lens is another matter. Don't count on the lens that the manufacturer includes with the enlarger to be high quality. Some inexpensive lenses do fine. Usually it is better to stick to the top brands. I'm partial to Nikkor, but, for large format, get by with the ancient lens that came with my primary enlarger. A good enlarging lens is a lifetime investment. Fortunately, most modern enlargers use lenses with the 39mm Leica thread, so upgrading the lens is usually easy. Another consideration in enlargers is the maximum size film you will ever use. Enlargers for large film usually work well with smaller film. The reverse is not true. If you never intend to shoot film larger than 35mm, there's no need to get a larger enlarger. If you might move up to medium or large format, get a suitable enlarger now.

    Half of my darkrooms haven't had running water. Milk jugs are great for storing water at room temperature, and waste water and used chemicals can go out in a bucket. Even in a darkroom with running water, some water should be stored at room temperature if you develop your own film. It's much easier than mixing hot and cold water to the right temperature. You'll need a tank and reel for developing film. Some plastic reels are initially easier to load, but stainless steel reels are worth mastering. Tanks come in sizes that will hold from one to eight reels. Having several sizes is advantageous for those who develop large and small bunches of film. Since stainless steel tanks and reels last a lifetime, they are a good investment.

    You'll need some kind of timer. A cheap clock works fine. A quartz clock that ticks once a second lets you count seconds while manipulating images while enlarging. I've rarely used anything but such clocks in 40 years of darkroom work.

    Finally, the most valuable asset in photography is knowledge, not equipment. If you understand how things work, you can often improvise or do without. Talk to as many people as you can about your problems. Some people on this board have probably already solved those problems. A few camera store people are also knowledgeable and sympathetic photographers who will help you cut corners when setting up your darkroom. Most answers can be found in books. Double check on any advice, if possible. Some of the "experts" who write books are more interested in selling the books than in getting the information right.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ElectricLadyland View Post
    Hi, I would like to start printing my B&W negatives, and I would like some information on the process. What equipment will I need? How long do I print it for? What about developing the print? Basically, if someone could give me a run-through on the whole process, I would appreciate it. Thank you
    It might save your energy to get yourself a basic photo instruction book such as "Black and White Photography A Basic Manual" by Henry Horenstein to start first, read through it, and then come back here and ask more specific technical questions.

    Or do a web search (here or elsewhere) to get a brief outline of the process. You can get a PDF file called "Darkroom Design for Amateur Photographers" by Kodak somewhere online for free, which has some of that, but not entirely. But still you will get the idea.

    You need a darkroom with an enlarger, enlarging lens, grain focuser, easel, timer, photographic paper, photo chemicals, trays, safe light, fan, sink, etc. Then the whole printing process has to be in the darkroom whether it's your closet space, bathroom, bedroom, or school, community place, pro lab.

    For processing the paper, you need at least four trays: Develper, stop, fix, and wash. Each processing takes 1 to 3minutes, but for the wash, it's a lot longer.

    You can find this kind of information almost anywhere online. If not, you can go to a bookstore or a local library to find out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pinholemaster View Post
    I suggest a class at a local night school, or community college. Or perhaps join a local camera club.
    I think you'll find that camera clubs, at least the ones I'm familiar with, a far more geared towards digital SLR users than anything else. Worth a try, but don't be disappointed if you don't get much help there.

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    Ole
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    Quote Originally Posted by firecracker View Post
    For processing the paper, you need at least four trays: Develper, stop, fix, and wash. Each processing takes 1 to 3minutes, but for the wash, it's a lot longer.
    There are people who do it with only one tray: Put paper in tray, pour in developer. When development is done, pour off developer and pour in stop. #0 seconds, then pour off stop and pour in fix. Pour off fix, wash print and tray.

    The basic equipment is an enlarger with lens, and at least one tray.

    For film development, a Paterson tank and one reel is about minimum.
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

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    reellis67's Avatar
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    A really simple, easy to follow book for getting started is this one

    http://www.amazon.com/Into-Your-Dark...e=UTF8&s=books

    It covers things in a very basic way, but still covers all the important steps. As the others have stated, it doesn't take much to get started, and the most common thing to overcome is the feeling that you can't do it because it's too complicated. Darkroom work, both printing and developing, is quite easy. Move at your own pace, and if you can, find someone to show you the basics, and to whom you can ask questions from time to time.

    - Randy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ole View Post
    There are people who do it with only one tray: Put paper in tray, pour in developer. When development is done, pour off developer and pour in stop. #0 seconds, then pour off stop and pour in fix. Pour off fix, wash print and tray.

    The basic equipment is an enlarger with lens, and at least one tray.

    For film development, a Paterson tank and one reel is about minimum.
    Another option is a color print drum and motor base, I have used this option in the past when I did not have room for even on 11X14 tray.

  10. #10
    Peter Williams's Avatar
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    You can find some valuable info in this thread:

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/35058-b-w-processing-readup-beginner.html

    Peter
    If you can't answer a man's argument, all is not lost; you can still call him vile names.
    - Elbert Hubbard

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