No one is a complete photographer until he or she gains a fundamental knowledge of darkroom
practice. This course is designed to provide your students with that knowledge. It covers the
basic aspects of black-and-white film processing, printing, and enlarging. Students who finish
the course should be well acquainted with the functions and purposes of darkroom equipment
and darkroom procedures. Moreover, students should be able to complete all the steps in black-and-white photography by themselves, from purchasing the film to mounting the finished print.
Your students need no prior knowledge of darkroom techniques, but they will need some
previous picture-taking experience. Students who have completed the course in Basic
Photography are well qualified to take this course. They will also need a camera and several rolls
of black-and-white film.
You, the teacher, should be familiar with the techniques of processing, printing, and enlarging. If
you feel you are a bit rusty, reading through the course outline and the material included may
help refresh your memory.
Your students also will benefit from reading some of the Glossary of Photographic Terms. You
will find that the course will progress more smoothly if your students have some understanding
of the material to be covered at each meeting.
Near the end of the course, some students may wish to practice in the darkroom during time other
than meeting time. In this case, try to arrange some period when they can use the darkroom with
or without supervision.
There are good reasons why your class should be fairly small. First, each student should have
access to all the necessary equipment. (Ideally, there should be an enlarger for each student; but
if this is impractical, several students can share each enlarger.) Second, as darkroom practice in
the beginning stages requires individual supervision, you won't want to spread yourself too thin.
Ten students is reasonable.
For Film Processing
For Proof Sheets
- Processing sinks with hot and cold running water (a single faucet is advisable)
- Tanks for roll-film processing
- Thermometers for processing tanks
- Film clips or a drying cabinet
- Negative envelopes or sleeves
- Film squeegees
For Print Processing
- Printing frames or enlargers (an electric exposure timer is recommended)
- Safelights and filters
- Paper safe (optional)
- Timers with a sweep-second hand (if no electric exposure timers are available)
- Camel's hair brushes
- Sets of four trays of adequate size (at least large enough to process 8 x 10-inch prints)
- Print paddles, tongs, rubber gloves (optional)
- Tray thermometers
For Chemical Mixing
- Enlargers with appropriate lenses and negative carriers
- Electric exposure timers (recommended)
- Masking easels
- Dodging utensils
- Safelights and filters
- Camel's hair brushes
- Storage bottles
- Rubber gloves
- Stirring rods
- Print washers or trays
- Print-drying racks or a mechanical dryer
- Dry-mounting equipment
- Mounting supplies: tissue, boards
- Print rollers or squeegees
- Camel's hair spotting brushes
- Supply of spotting dyes and toners
A SPECIAL WORD ABOUT CHEMICALS
If you use only a single developer (such as KODAK Developer D-76 and KODAK Replenisher
D-76R) for film and a single developer (such as KODAK DEKTOL Developer) for paper, you
will find that students can accustom themselves to darkroom procedures faster with less
confusion. You can have the same stop bath and fixer for both films and paper if you use ones
such as KODAK Indicator Stop Bath and KODAK Fixer or KODAFIX Solution. Equivalents
can be used for all Kodak products mentioned.
Again, if you select a paper capable of several different contrast grades, your students can
accustom themselves more easily to a single way of doing things. Keep the course simple by
eliminating variables. A good choice for this is a paper such as KODAK POLYCONTRAST III
RC Paper. When exposed with the proper KODAK POLYCONTRAST II Acetate Filter or
equivalent, this paper can have seven different degrees of contrast. This paper can be used for
making both proof sheets and enlargements.
A Brief Introduction To The Course
Welcome students and have them introduce themselves to the rest of the class.
Briefly explain the benefits and objectives of the course.
- To learn basic darkroom technique so that students can perform all the steps from buying a roll of film to producing and mounting a finished print
- Making a proof sheet to judge negative quality and process all prints
- Film processing to make printable negatives from exposed film
- Enlarging and related techniques for accurate control over the final print
- Chemical mixing for economy and consistent results
- Darkroom safety to protect oneself and one's equipment
- Print mounting and finishing to present an exhibit or enter a photographic contest
Briefly explain how the course is taught.
Identify and explain equipment to students with some of the theory involved: Film
processing tanks and the different chemicals steps to bring out and stabilize the latent image
made by light striking the film during exposure in the camera; photographic paper and how
light transmitted by the exposed and developed film forms a latent image on the paper which
is then brought out and stabilized by chemicals; and enlargers, machines for projecting light
through negatives onto photographic paper, allowing control of image size and cropping to
- Instruction by the teacher
- Use of literature and out-of-class reading
- Practice in the darkroom
Demonstrate making a proof sheet* and let each student make one. Have some negatives on
hand, with a good proof sheet for quality comparison. Also, have all the necessary chemicals
*Making a proof sheet -- If you've processed your own film, you have already prepared the stop bath and fixer. Mix
the developer according to the instructions. Be sure to label jars as DEKTOL Developer, Stop Bath (or Stop), and
Fixer. Make up a working solution by diluting your prepared developer with water as recommended on the package.
Pour it into a jar labeled DEKTOL Developer and start with step 2.
Step 2 -- Stabilize the developer at 68° F (20° C) by pouring about 32 oz (946 mL) into your graduate and placing it
into a tray of cool or warm water. Next pour it into a tray labeled Developer to a depth of about 1/2 inch.
Step 3 -- Stabilize the stop bath at 65° to 75° F (18° to 24° C) and pour about 1/2 inch into a tray labeled Stop Bath or
Step 4 -- Stabilize the fixer at 65° to 75° F (18° to 24° C) and pour about 1/2 inch into a tray labeled Fixer. Note: It's a
good idea to rinse your graduate after steps 2, 3 and 4.
Step 5 -- Arrange your trays in front of you so that, from left to right, you have developer, stop bath, and fixer. Then
rinse your hands well and dry them thoroughly. Turn off all lights except for the safelight. The safelight should
be placed at least 4 feet from your working area.
Step 6 -- Open the package of paper, remove one sheet, and close the package again so that light can't get in. Place
your negatives so that their dull side faces the emulsion (usually shiny) side of the paper. The negatives should be
near the light source. Cover with glass.
Step 7 -- If you're using a printing frame and a 7-watt bulb to make your proof sheet, hang the bare bulb 2 feet above
the frame and turn it on for about 10 seconds. You may have to experiment a bit (see step 12) to get the correct
exposure time for your negatives.
Step 8 -- If you're using an enlarger, place the empty negative carrier in the enlarger, and set the lens at f/11. Adjust
the enlarger so that the light covers an area just a bit larger than your paper. Expose for about 8 seconds. Again, you
may have to experiment to get the correct exposure time.
Step 9 -- Remove the paper from your printing device with your left hand (don't get the right one wet with
developer) and slide the paper, emulsion side up, into the developer (left-hand tray). Rock the tray gently for 1
minute by tipping up first one end, then the other.
Step 10 -- Take the paper out of the developer with your left hand, and after letting it drain for a second or two, slide
it into the stop bath solution (center tray). Agitate the tray for 5 seconds in the same manner you did in step 9.
Step 11 -- With your right hand, withdraw the paper from the stop bath and slip it into the fixer. Agitate frequently
for 2 minutes, and keep it separated from any other prints in the tray. After the print has been in the fixer for 25-30
seconds, you can turn on the room lights.
Step 12 -- Examine your proof sheet and if most of the pictures seem too light, try again with double the exposure
time you used at first. If most of the pictures seem too dark, use half the exposure time. It's a good idea to keep
notes on your exposure times and the results. You'll soon be able to come up with a good average exposure time to
Step 13 -- Using your fourth tray, wash the print for only 4 minutes at 64° to 75° F (18° to 24° C). The KODAK
Automatic Tray Siphon provides continuous agitation.
Step 14 -- Sponge or squeegee the surface water from both sides of the print and place it onto a flat surface to dry at
Have each member expose a roll or cartridge of black-and-white film and have it processed and a
proof sheet made professionally unless he/she already has such a roll of film from a previous
course in photography. Each time your students complete a picture-taking assignment, have
them enter in a small notebook pertinent data such as lighting conditions, film speed, lens
opening, and shutter speed (if an adjustable camera was used). This information will be helpful
later when students begin other picture-taking assignments.
Discuss the use and theory of photographic chemicals. Explain briefly how developer brings out
the latent images on photographic paper and film and how fixer makes the image permanent.
The photographic process, from the manufacture of the light-sensitive materials to the processing of the final print, is
based on a series of chemical reactions. Some of the reactions are comparatively simple; others are quite complex.
All require careful control and reagent purity and reaction conditions.
Photographic material has a mechanical support, such as film, glass, or paper, with a light-sensitive coating or
"emulsion" made up of minute silver halide crystals (usually silver bromide) suspended in gelatin. Exposure to light
in a camera, printer, or enlarger gives no visible effect, but there is an invisible change which produces a "latent
image." To obtain a visible, usable image, the exposed material must be developed, fixed, and washed.
When exposed photographic material is placed in a developer solution, the developer attacks the exposed grains,
which contain the latent-image material, freeing the silver from its compound and depositing it as tiny, irregular
grains of metallic silver. Multitudes of these minute grains form the black silver image. The developer will also
attack unexposed grains, but much more slowly so that only a relatively small amount of silver (fog density) is
formed in the unexposed areas during normal development.
After development, the undeveloped silver halide crystals in the emulsion must be removed to keep them from
darkening and obscuring the image. This "fixing" is done by treating the emulsion in a solution of sodium or
ammonium thiosulfate. Either forms a soluble compound with the silver halide, but has practically no effect on the
silver image under normal conditions.
After the developed silver halide has been dissolved, the emulsion is still saturated with chemicals of the fixing bath.
If the hypo remained, it would slowly decompose and attack the image, making it discolor and fade. The hypo is removed by washing.
Discuss and demonstrate proper methods of selecting, mixing and storing chemicals. (See
instruction sheets packaged with chemicals.) Emphasize the need for cleanliness and care
when working with chemicals. Contamination of the chemicals leads to poor picture quality.
When mixing chemicals, wear safety glasses to protect your eyes and an apron to protect
Discuss the need for safety in the darkroom -- care in use of chemicals and safe placement of
sharp objects and obstructions to avoid accidents in the dark.
Have each student mix a batch of each chemical needed for the course and store it properly in
a clean, cool place. Developers have a shorter life than other chemicals, so it is wise to mix a
Have students study the proper methods of selecting, mixing, and storing chemicals.
Briefly discuss the more important aspects of exposure time, developing time, washing, and
Have all students make proof sheets from the negatives they were assigned to expose and have
processed at Meeting No. 1. They will be able to compare the quality of their proof sheets with
that of the proof sheets from the photofinisher. Have students familiarize themselves with all
phases of paper processing: developing, stopping, fixing, washing, and drying.
While prints are drying, introduce students to film processing. Point out the differences from and
similarities to print processing.
Processing Your Film -- Step 1 -- In one of the jars, mix the developer according to the package instructions. Label
the jar D-76 Dev (developer).
Step 2 -- In the second jar, mix the stop bath according to the package instructions. Label the jar Stop Bath or Stop.
Step 3 -- In the third jar, mix the fixer according to the package instructions. Label this jar Fixer.
Step 4 -- Stabilize the developer at 68° F (20° C) by placing your graduate (filled with the required amount of solution)
in a tray of warm or cool water until the temperature has stabilized. The water level in the tray should be at least
equal to the level of solution in the graduate. Pour the required amount into the developing tank.
Step 5 -- In total darkness remove your film from the cartridge. With 126- and 110-size films, break open the
cartridge by bending the cylindrical chambers toward the label. If you're using roll film, rip off the exposed sticker
and then separate the film and paper backing. Use a bottle cap remover to open 35 mm magazines.
Step 6 -- To remove the film from 126 cartridges, separate the plastic sections surrounding the spool. If you're using
110 film, pull the paper backing out of the broken cartridge in a direction that rubs the paper against the cartridge.
The film will come out along with the backing. Handle the film by the edges only.
Step 7 -- The film in 126 cartridges is attached to the paper backing with a strip of tape. Detach the film and discard
the paper and tape. Handle the film by the edges only.
Step 8 -- Handling the film by the edges, roll it into the apron or reel according to the tank instructions. Put the reel
or apron into the tank, secure the lid, and start timing. You may now turn on the room lights.
Step 9 -- Tap the tank against your working surface to remove any air bubbles. After 30 seconds, agitate the tank by
inverting it, rotating it in a circular motion, or rotating the reels. Do this for about 5 seconds at 30-second intervals.
At the end of the recommended developer time, pour the solution back into the developer jar. When pouring, tip the
tank only slightly at the start.
Step 10 -- With the tank tilted a bit, pour the stop bath solution (stabilized at 65 to 75° F/18 - 24° C) through the
opening in the top. Do not open the tank. Agitate gently for about 30 seconds, then pour the liquid back into its
original jar. Note: It's a good idea to rinse your graduate after each of the processing steps.
Step 11 -- Add the fixer solution (stabilized at 65 to 75° F/18 to 24° C) and agitate for about 5 seconds at 30-second
intervals. At the end of the fixing time (2 to 4 minutes with KODAFIX Solution; 5 to 10 minutes with KODAK
Fixer) pour the solution into its jar.
Step 12 -- Remove the tank cover, place the tank under a moderate stream of 65 to 75° F (18 to 24° C) water, and let
the film wash for about a half hour. To shorten washing time, rinse the film in KODAK Hypo Clearing Agent. First
wash the film for 30 seconds. Next submerge it in a Hypo Clearing Agent solution for 1 to 2 minutes, with moderate
agitation. Then you need only wash for 5 minutes.
Step 13 -- Hang up the film with a film clip or clothespin at each end. Dampen a viscose sponge, wring it out, and
then gently run it along both sides of the film to remove large droplets of water. (To eliminate the necessity of
wiping the film, minimize water marks and drying time, rinse the film with diluted KODAK PHOTO-FLO Solution.
Follow the instructions on the bottle.) Let the film dry. Don't forget to rinse out all parts of your film tank.
Have each student expose a roll or cartridge of black-and-white film and bring it to the next
meeting without having it processed.
Explain to the students that for the first few minutes of the film processing procedure they are
going to be working in complete darkness. Explain that the best negatives result from handling
film carefully and following processing procedures exactly.
Discuss in detail good film processing practice: how to open film rolls, cassettes and cartridges;
how to handle film without scratching it or leaving fingerprints (handle film by its edges only);
how to load processing tanks; and how to work the timers (see timer instruction manual). Show
students how to pour solutions into and out of processing tanks and how to agitate a full tank.
Allow students to practice loading their processing tanks with practice film in normal room
lighting. (You can use some fogged or outdated film for this purpose.) Repeat this step with the
room lights turned off.
Then have each student load and process the roll of film exposed for Assignment No. 3. When
the processing and drying are done, explain and demonstrate how to judge negative quality.
Have your students put their negatives into envelopes.
Things That Can Go Wrong
Streaky Negatives -- Due to uneven development. Probably not all of the film was in
contact with the developer throughout development time or there simply wasn't enough solution.
Rows of Regularly Spaced Marks -- If they occur inside the picture area of the negative, it's because the film wasn't
properly seated in the apron or because you used the wrong apron.
Black Streaks -- A sign that light reached the film while you were loading or unloading your camera. If all the
streaks are on the same side, it might be because the top of your developing tank was loosened during processing.
Overall Grayness -- Often caused by light sneaking into your darkroom during the time you were loading your
Thin, Very Transparent Negatives -- If there are no really dark black areas in the entire negative, it usually means
that your developer was too cold, the developing time was too short, or the negative was underexposed.
Dense, Heavy Negatives -- This indicates that the developer was too warm, the film was developed too long, or the
negative was overexposed.
Have the students start a negative file.
Discuss enlarging as a printing art that allows much more control over the resulting prints than
making a proof sheet does.
Demonstrate the use of the enlargers (including loading negative carriers, focusing, and adjusting
lens openings), electric exposure timers (if you have them), and enlarging easels (see instruction
manuals for enlargers and timers). Show how to crop with the enlarger. Demonstrate how to
determine exposure by making test strips or by using the KODAK Projection Print Scale.
Emphasize the importance of a clean negative and a clean enlarger lens, and caution students
about proper safelight bulbs, filters, and distances from the working area. Safelight fog is a
common cause of flat prints. Have students pick out some of their best negatives and enlarge
them to 8 x 10 inches. To save time printing the same negatives at a later date, suggest that the
students record the following in pencil on the back of the dried print -- paper name and grade,
lens opening, length of exposure, developer, developing time, and filters. While students are
washing and drying prints, discuss and demonstrate grades and textures of different photographic
Enlarging Parts of Negatives -- Although you enlarged the whole negative when making your first enlargement, you
may want to enlarge only a part of the negative. You can improve many pictures by printing only the best part of the
scene, eliminating cluttered backgrounds or unimportant areas. This is called cropping. Suppose, for example, that
your negative is a full-length picture of a person. If you like, you can enlarge just the small area of the negative
containing the image of the person's head. When enlarging only part of a negative, be sure to use more exposure
time than you did when enlarging the whole negative.
KODAK Projection Print Scale -- The Print Scale is a piece of film divided like a pie, with a number in each of its
10 slices. To use it, you focus the negative, turn off the enlarger, and place a piece of enlarging paper onto the easel
with the print scale so that it reads correctly on top of it. Turn on the enlarger for exactly 1 minute with the lens set
at f/11. Then process the paper. Pick the section of the pie that looks best. The number in that section will be the
exposure time in seconds.
Safelight Fog -- The room must be lighttight. To check for stray light, stay in the darkroom for 5 minutes with all the
lights turned off. After 5 minutes, if you still can't see a sheet of white paper placed against a dark background, the
room passes inspection. If there are light leaks, you will be able to see them because your eyes will have become
adjusted to the dark. Eliminate small light leaks with black tape. For large ones, such as the crack around a door,
use dark heavy cloth or weather stripping.
For your health and comfort, you should introduce a plentiful supply of clean, fresh air into your darkroom --
especially during the chemical mixing and processing operations. Be sure to follow the safety recommendations
appearing on the product labels and provided in the instructions packaged with the processing chemicals. Check the
photo magazines in your local library for articles on building lighttight darkroom ventilators.
Arrange your safelights so that they provide as much light as possible, but keep them at a safe distance -- at least 4
feet (1.2 m) -- from your working area. Use a safelight equipped with a 15-watt bulb and the filter recommended on
the paper (or film) instruction sheet. You can make a simple safelight test as follows:
If all three prints are identical, your safelight conditions are good. If print No. 3 shows slight fogging of highlights in
any of the safelight-exposure areas, it is a warning to limit the time of exposure to safelight illumination to a time that
will produce no fogging.
- Set your enlarging easel to give 1/2-inch white borders for the paper size you'll use in the test.
- Place a normal-contrast negative typical of your work in the enlarger. Be sure the clear borders of the negatives
are completely masked.
- Size and focus the image on the easel.
- With all safelights on, make a good-quality print on grade 2 paper -- or the paper you normally use. Develop for the recommended time in one of the developers recommended for the paper. Mark this print No. 1.
- Turn the safelights off, and make print No. 2 in the same way as print No. 1.
- Turn the safelights off, and expose print No. 3 in the same way as print No. 2. Do not develop print No. 3.
- With the safelights still off, place a piece of cardboard over the developing tray and put print No. 3 on it,
emulsion side up. Safelight illumination is generally brightest in this location. Cover one-fourth of the print
with an opaque card and turn on all the safelights. In the same way that you would make an exposure test strip,
expose print No. 3 to the safelight for 1, 2, and 4 minutes, in steps. This gives four steps with safelight
exposures of 0, 1, 2, and 7 minutes superimposed on the image exposure. Develop this print for the same length
of time as prints No. 1 and 2, with safelights turned off.
- Fix, wash, and dry all the prints in the normal manner.
- Compare the prints. Prints No. 1 and 2 should be identical. If print No. 1 shows lower contrast or fogged
highlights when compared with No. 2, you have a serious safelight problem. Be sure that the safelight filters
(especially the one over the developer tray), bulb wattage, and distance and number of safelights are consistent
with the recommendations on the paper instruction sheet.
Note that fogging from safelight illumination will show up in areas that have already received some exposure before
it will show up in the white borders. For this reason, safelight fog may go unnoticed unless the safelights are tested
Have the students expose more film and process it before the next class.
Introduce the techniques of dodging and printing-in (burning in). Remind your class that these
are two of the controls that an enlarger makes possible.
With the appropriate negatives, demonstrate how to dodge and burn in. Reemphasize the
importance of clean negatives and a clean enlarger lens. Let students spend the rest of the period
making enlargements, experimenting with the techniques above, and printing on some different
papers. Allow time at the end of class to wash and dry the prints.
While this is primarily a laboratory session with a minimum of instruction, be ready to help
analyze prints and assist any student who has problems.
Printing-In And Dodging -- In many instances the brightness range of a subject is far beyond the range of tones that
can be reproduced in a print. However, you can partially compensate for this in two ways: (1) You can give
additional exposure to the highlight areas that would otherwise print too light. This is called printing-in or burning-
in. (2) You can hold light back from areas that would otherwise print too dark. This is called dodging.
You can easily make your own printing-in and dodging tools from wire, black tape, and dark paper or cardboard.
When you use these tools, always keep them moving so that you won't be able to see a sharp line on the finished
print, indicating where you printed-in or dodged.
Printing-In -- There are many situations where printing-in comes in handy. For example, let's assume you've taken a
flash picture of a group of people. When you make a straight print from the negative, the people in the foreground
will probably be much lighter than those who were farther from the camera. You can darken the people in the
foreground by printing-in. After you've given the print its normal exposure, hold a piece of cardboard under the
enlarger lens about midway between the lens and the paper. Turn on the enlarger and move the cardboard so that
only the area of the image that is too light receives additional exposure. If the area you want to darken is small or
near the center of the paper, it's easier to confine the additional exposure to that area if you do the printing-in with a
piece of cardboard in which you've cut a hole. Remember to keep the cardboard in continuous motion so that the
doctoring won't be apparent on the finished print.
A technically good print of a landscape which reproduces all the tones in the original scene may be weakened
pictorially by light-toned areas which compete for attention with the center of interest. These light areas could be
bright stones in the foreground, bright reflections, a white house, a light sky, or some other distracting element. You
can darken such areas by printing-in.
If the line between the satisfactory area and the area you want to darken is rather intricate, you can make a printing-in
tool from a test print of the same size. Just cut the area you want to darken out of the test print. After you've given
your final print its normal exposure, print-in the area that is too light by holding the cutout print very close to the
paper you are exposing. Move the cutout print only very slightly during the exposure.
Dodging -- In dodging, you hold back light from the projected image during the basic exposure time so that the
photographic paper receives less-than-normal exposure in areas that were too dark in your straight print. The tools
used in dodging are also very simple to make. You can cut any shape you need from a piece of dark cardboard or
paper, and tape it to a piece of wire. Then while you expose the print, hold the cardboard by the wire and move the
cardboard over the area of the projected image which is too dark. In dodging, besides keeping the cardboard in
motion, make sure you move the wire from side to side too. Otherwise you can get a light line on your print caused
by the shadow of the wire.
Have students practice in the darkroom in their spare time and possibly expose and process
another roll of film for use at the next meeting.
The class will use this meeting to practice enlarging.
Tell the students to start enlarging with the best quality in mind. Have them spend most of the
period at their enlargers, using all the techniques they have mastered so far. Be available for
Have the students sort their prints and negatives and pick out the best. Tell them that at the end
of the course they will put on a print show in the school or town and that their best negatives
should be well printed (and enlarged) and their best prints should be mounted. If they have any
good negatives that are poorly printed, have them try for better results before the next meeting.
Discuss print mounting and point out how the proper mount can enhance picture appearance.
Discuss both dry and wet mounting.
Mounting -- A mount emphasizes the picture. Usually a special mounting board is used for this purpose. A well
chosen mount directs attention to the picture, not to itself. Most photographers use a material such as KODAK Dry
Mounting Tissue, Type 2, for mounting their prints. Here's how to mount a print:
Underlays in gray, black, or color dress up a print. Here's how to mount a print with an underlay:
- Tack the heat-sensitive tissue to the center of the back of the print, using a tacking iron or a household iron. (Set
the household iron at the lowest setting in the synthetic fabric range and adjust if necessary.)
- Trim the print and position it on the mounting board. Holding the print in place, lift one corner of the print and
tack the mounting tissue to the mount. Do this on all corners.
- If you plan to use a dry-mounting press, be sure to protect the print with a double thickness of heavy Kraft
wrapping paper. Before you put your print into the press, make sure that the Kraft paper is completely dry.
Close the press on the Kraft paper for about 1 minute. This will keep the paper from sticking to the surface of
your print. Place your covered print in the press and close the press for at least 30 seconds. The temperature of
the press should be between 180 and 210° F (82 and 99° C).
- Remove the mounted print from the press; place the print face down on a clean, smooth surface, and keep flat
until cool. A heavy book or other flat weight is useful for this purpose.
- If you don't have a mounting press, you can use a household iron to do your mounting. Use the same setting on
the iron as suggested for tacking the mounting tissue to the print (see step 1). Cover the print with a double
thickness of Kraft paper, and run the iron back and forth over the print. Keep the iron moving and work from
the center of the print toward the edges. Don't push too hard or you could mar the surface of the print.
Another way to mount prints is to use overlay mounts. You can buy overlay mounts in art or photo supply stores.
There's no actual mounting involved when you use an overlay. Just lift the overlay and slide the print into place.
Then tape or glue the bottom corners of the print to the mounting board. While these mounts are fine for temporary
or home use, they usually aren't acceptable for photographic contests or salons.
- Tack the dry-mounting tissue to the print and trim off the excess tissue.
- Tack the print to a piece of art paper that is slightly larger than the print. Do this just as you would to tack the print to a mounting board.
- Tack dry-mounting tissue to the art paper and trim the excess tissue.
- Tack the art paper to the mounting board.
- Mount the print with a mounting press or a household iron.
You may also mount your prints by using a photographically inert cement, such as KODAK Rapid Mounting
Cement. This cement is packaged in small tubes and is especially suitable for mounting small prints in albums.
Never use rubber cement for mounting paper-base prints because it may contain compounds which could stain your
Demonstrate dry and wet mounting. Have all the students mount their best prints on appropriate
mounting board. Students who are not continuing with the optional meetings should clean out
their lockers and return equipment at the end of the meeting.
Arrange to hang the prints in their school, in a church, in a bank, or in the window of the local
photo shop. Ask a well known community figure to judge the print show (or you can do
it yourself), and award first, second, and third prizes plus an honorable mention.
Assignment (for those continuing the course)
Have the students take some portraits and some cloudless landscapes and process the film before the next meeting.
Explain the purpose of vignetting and show examples of texture screened prints.
Vignetting -- Vignetting is a printing technique used to eliminate distracting or unwanted backgrounds. This
technique is used primarily in the enlargements of people. Vignetting is more popular for printing high-key portraits
-- portraits of a subject made up mostly of light gray tones.
You can easily vignette a print by projecting the image from the negative through a hole in an opaque cardboard.
Cut the hole in the cardboard the same shape as the area you want to print. The hole should be the size that will give
you the effect you want when you hold the cardboard about halfway between the enlarger lens and the paper.
Feather or rough cut the edges of the hole so that the image fades gradually into the white paper. In vignetting, keep
the vignetter in continuous motion during the print exposure.
You can use the vignetting technique to print portraits from more than one negative on a single sheet of enlarging
paper. Assume you want to print from three negatives. Decide where you want each image to appear on the final
print, and draw circles on a sheet of white paper on the enlarger easel to indicate the location of each image. Put the
first negative in the enlarger and adjust it so that the image you want fills its circle. Remove the white sheet of paper
and make your exposure test for the first negative. It isn't necessary to use the vignetting technique for your
exposure test. Using the vignetting technique, make the first exposure on the enlarging paper that will be your final
print. (It's a good idea to put a small "x" in one corner on the back of the enlarging paper to help keep it properly
oriented.) After you make the exposure, put the sheet of enlarging paper back into its lighttight storage place. Put
the paper with the circles on it back into the easel and adjust the enlarger for the second picture. Follow the same
procedure as you did for the first negative. After you've printed the second negative, follow this same procedure for
the third negative. Then process the print.
Demonstrate vignetting with an appropriate negative. Demonstrate the use of a texture screen.
(You will find that at this point you will be able to move fairly fast with the remainder of the
class. They have a grasp of the fundamentals of darkroom technique and use of the equipment,
and you need do no more than make quick demonstrations before you let them get to their own
Have students make some experimental prints using the techniques discussed above and the
negatives from the assignment made at Meeting No. 8. Vignetting is especially effective for
portrait printing. You will find that texture screens help to make unusual landscape prints.
Have the students take some pictures of tall buildings or other structures with the camera tilted
up or down to show distorted, converging lines. (Aim up at a building. The lines of the building
will appear to converge more in the picture than they do to your eye.) Have students try to get
some good cloud photos that they can use with negatives of cloudless landscapes to make
combination prints. The building and cloud negatives should be processed before the next
Explain the theory behind controlling convergence.
Select a print with distorted, converging lines and correct it by tilting the enlarger easel in the
proper direction. The effect is more obvious when you correct a picture of a subject taken at
fairly close range.
Make a combination print from a landscape negative with no clouds and a negative of clouds
alone. Have your students apply instruction on converging lines and combination printing with
the negatives they made for the last assignment. (Again you are only present for advice during
this part of the class.)
Have students expose a roll of fast black-and-white film with an adjustable camera. Have them
expose the entire roll of film at a speed of ISO 800 taking pictures under dim lighting conditions.
Tell the students that usually the ISO speed for a film is the best indication of that film's
sensitivity to light. Exposing it at that speed produces the best results. The effective film speed
number, however, can be changed if factors in development are changed.
Have the students load their rolls of film into developing tanks and proceed with processing as
usual, except for appropriate development changes. Tell them to expect a slight loss of quality
and an increase in graininess with enlargement. Explain that push processing film can be an
effective way to get natural-appearing pictures under low light levels without using flash.
Have the students pick out any prints that have white or black spots on them and bring them to
the next class.
Discuss a final finishing control, such as spotting. Describe the purpose and the most effective
way to use this technique.
Spotting -- Despite all the precautions you take against dust and dirt, most prints seem to end up with at least a few
white spots. You can fill in the spots by using a good quality spotting brush with an especially fine point. For
spotting black-and-white prints, you can use liquid spotting dyes available through photo dealers.
To spot your print, pick up a little liquid spotting dye on the tip of your brush. Next dilute this with two or three
drops of water on a glass or metal palette. Rotate the brush to make a fine point. Apply the dye with a dotting or
stippling motion until the dye matches the tone of the surrounding area -- and the spot is no longer visible. It's best
to begin with dark areas and work on lighter areas as the dye works out of the brush. If the dye bubbles when you
apply it, the brush is too wet.
Take a print that is obviously spotty from a dusty negative and demonstrate the technique of
filling in the spots. Have the students thoroughly clean the darkroom and all equipment. Thank
students for participation and interest in the course, and ask if there are any suggestions for
You can make some interesting and unusual enlargements by printing through a texture screen -- a device that gives the print a textured appearance.
The texture can be any appealing cloth, wire, glass, plastic, or other material with a grained appearance. Some texture screens are commercially available in the form of film sheets. Others you can make at home yourself. For example, you can make a simple texture screen by tautly stretching a sheer cloth over a frame that can be placed over your enlarger easel.
Most textured screens are used in contact with the emulsion of the enlarging paper on the easel. You may need to place a sheet of clear glass over the texture screen to hold it in contact with the paper. Otherwise you could obtain a blurred texture effect when the screen isn't in good contact with the paper. You can keep the screen in position during all or part of the exposure, depending on the degree of effect you want. If you want the screen in place for only part of the exposure, divide the total exposure time in parts so that you can remove the screen when the enlarger is off. Make sure you don't move the paper between exposures.
You can easily make other varieties of texture screens by photographing textured surfaces. For example, use strong side lighting to bring out the texture of a material such as charcoal-type drawing paper or a sheet of unprinted KODAK Paper. Take a closeup picture of this and you can use the negative as a textured screen. Put the texture screen into the negative carrier together with the negative you are going to enlarge, and print them both at the same time. This procedure gives your print a much more pronounced texture effect than you get with contact texture screens.
A texture screen can cause a slight loss of print contrast. You can compensate for this by using paper of a higher contrast grade.
Not all subjects benefit from the use of texture screens. In general, landscapes that have large open areas lend themselves to this treatment, but there may be many exceptions. The best rule is try it, and if it looks good, use it.
When you take a picture with your camera pointed up or down, vertical lines in the picture appear to be converging. You can correct this when you make an enlargement from the negative.
First tilt the enlarger easel by lifting up one edge until the vertical lines in the projected image appear parallel. Then place something under that edge to hold the easel in place. Focus the image at a point one-third of the way in from the high edge. If you need to make only a slight correction, you can keep the image in focus over the entire picture area by using a small enlarger lens opening. However, if the easel is tilted at a considerable incline, you must tilt the negative carrier to keep the image in focus. (If it's not possible to tilt the negative carrier in your enlarger, you won't be able to correct severe converging lines.) Tilt the negative carrier until the complete image on the easel appears sharp.
Incidentally, when you tilt the enlarger easel to correct converging vertical lines, you will probably encounter a slimming effect on your subject. When the easel is tilted, the proportions on the print will equal those in the original scene only when the enlarger lens-to-negative distance is equal to the camera lens-to-film distance when the picture was made. Since the enlarger lens is likely to have approximately the same focal length as the camera lens, the enlarger lens-to-negative distance is likely to be greater than the lens-to-film distance (due to the shorter subject distance involved in enlarging). With the easel tilted, you'll get a greater magnification of height than width, resulting in the slimming effect. However, the slimming is usually less objectionable than converging lines that should be parallel.
Combination printing is probably the most rewarding and demanding control technique. In combination printing you use two (or more) negatives to make one good print. The most common use of combination printing is adding clouds to a cloudless sky. Here's how to do this:
Select a cloud negative making sure that the direction of the lighting on the clouds is the same as the direction of the lighting on the subject in your foreground negative. Often you can reverse the cloud negative if necessary in order to make the lighting in the two negatives correspond.
To add clouds to a sky, proceed as follows:
- Determine the correct exposure for each negative with the enlarger set at the degree of magnification you're going to use. Record the enlarger position (degree of magnification) and the correct exposure for each negative.
- Expose the foreground area of the print and at the same time use your hand or a card (cut to the contour of the sky) to hold back light from the sky area within about 1 inch of the horizon and any foreground buildings or trees that project into the sky. Hold your hand or the card a few inches above the easel and keep it moving. This leaves a gray-tone margin into which you can blend the clouds.
- Replace the foreground negative with the cloud negative. Print the cloud negative and at the same time use your hand or a card (cut to the contour of the foreground -- use the other half of the piece you used to hold back the sky) to hold back light from the previously-exposed foreground area. Hold your hand or the card a few inches above the easel and keep it moving so that the edges of the two images blend smoothly.
The result should be a well balanced combination print from two negatives.