Digital to Darkroom

We have progressed from memory cards and Photoshop to film and fixer. Today, our class finally got to experience the magic that comes with developing and printing the photographs we take with film. For the first half of class, we broke up into groups of two and learned about putting film onto reels and setting up a developing tank. We all had to stand in complete darkness while setting up our developing tanks and putting our film inside. Once our tanks were set up, we played around with the chemicals that would developed our film. We were able to experience the importance of water temperatures and chemical amounts. Throughout the whole developing process it became clear what chemicals could be poured down the sink and what we needed to save. Once our film was developed we ended up with beautiful negatives ready for the darkroom.


                                              Film– by, Olga

The one thing I found interesting today was talking about the different parts of film. One side of the film was plastic, while the other has gelatin emulsion containing light sensitive silver crystals. I always knew that the emulsion side was sensitive, but I found breaking down the different layers one negative fascinating. 

When we finally stepped into the darkroom, we printed our first set of test strip contact sheets. With our contact sheet we were able to see all of the photographs we had taken on a role of film. By looking at the contact sheet, we were able to decide what photographs we wanted to print. Before making a full contact sheet, we made test strips of a contact sheet in order to see how long we would need to expose our negatives to the light sensitive paper.


                                Example of a contact sheet test strip

After our test strips were complete, we got to print some of our photographs. We learned about what our enlargers, negative carriers, grain finders, and easels do throughout the printing process. Sadly, I did not get to print today, but getting back into the darkroom was enough for me.


                                                 Print– by, Olga

Besides learning about working in a darkroom, we got our first 35 mm film project called, “Establishing Your View of NYC.” The project is trying to get us to explore what interests us in NYC and our relationship with the city. Just by looking at the contact sheet I created today I think I may have a few photographs that I want to print for the project.

—- Ysabel T.


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