Assignment 1 – First day in the darkroom

I have used the darkroom before when at college, however I have only done two darkroom based projects. So I found myself rather enthusiastic when going back into the traditional forms of photography. However I made a mistake straight away when it came to printing on the paper. I had spare paper (Ilford 10×8 in – satin – multigrade) from when I was at college so I thought that would save me some money, so I bought some more paper(Ilford 5×7 in – glossy – multigrade IV) for printing the finals. So I started doing my test strip on the satin like the one below:

F/ 8            3 Seconds                     6 Seconds              9 Seconds                 12 Seconds

I found that it was too dark, so I chose to turn up the aperture to dull the light down one stop, the result is below:

F/11            3 Seconds                            6 Seconds                 9 Seconds             12 seconds

As you can see details have now been brought out, and everything is much more clearer. As this was my first print I decided to try a glossy test strip just to make sure it would look the same, this is when I found my mistake:

F/11             3 Seconds                      6 Seconds                        9 Seconds                     12 Seconds

As you can see there has been a dramatic difference in lighting. No settings were changed apart from the paper. So this then led me to stick to one sort of paper so I chose to continue using glossy. I then did a new test strip but I turned the light up by putting it to f/8 allowing more light to come through.

F/8                    3 Seconds                         6 seconds                 9 Seconds                12 Seconds

I found that my test strip was much more contrasted and that is due to the fact that glossy paper allows the blacks to be more prominent. I then moved onto my conformation strip which is when you expose the piece of paper the the time you feel is needed for what you are trying to achieve. I decided to go with 7 seconds, however I knew by the looks of the test strip that 7 seconds would not get tones throughout her glasses so I burned them in for an extra 3 seconds. To do this I re-exposed the glasses for another 3 seconds whilst covering the rest of the photograph with my hands, making sure I keep shaking my hands so I did not get a harsh line across my image. This is the conformation strip:

F/8    7 Seconds – 3 seconds extra burning time for the glasses

There was one thing that I was not happy with and that was I felt the eyes were too dark, and I lost a lot of detail so for the final print I decided to use my hand made dodging tool too cover up (during exposure time) her eyes for 2 seconds. The final result below:


Second Photograph:

After finally getting used to the darkroom I moved onto my second print.

F/11                               12 seconds             9 Seconds              6 Seconds            3 Seconds

I felt that this photograph was much lighter than my last, so I chose to open the aperture to F/8 to let in more light and expose my conformation strip for 8 seconds.

F/8 –  8 Seconds

The result was much better, as it gave my a variety of tones throughout the image. I stuck with these settings for my final print.

However once I dried this print I had a look at it outside and found that it lacked contrast and sharpness. I am not a person who would settle for a print when I know I can do better. So I decided to start again, and I noticed one thing I had forgotten to do….. I had not turned the contrast filter on.

This shows the difference when you add the contrast filter to your photograph, I applied 4.0 contrast and this was the test strip result:

F/8              12 Seconds                         9 Seconds                   6 Seconds                         3 Seconds

You can clearly see the difference from the previous test strip. In this test strip the blacks are more striking against her skin.

Conformation Strip:

F/8 – 8 Seconds

I was very happy with the conformation strip so printed the whole print with the same times and settings:

I had been in the dark room for a few hours now after getting used to the equipment again and my mistake with the paper. It was closing time so I had to leave. But I would be in the dark room again the next day.


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