BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Tiger Lilly
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/25/2005
 

Darkroom setup


How difficult is it to learn photo processing and putting together your own darkroom (starting with just the basic necessities)? Expensive? And what do you recommend is the best way to learn; for someone of average intelligence, can it be learned through reading books?
Thanks in advance for your help!


To love this question, log in above
3/27/2005 11:53:00 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  If you have trouble making jello or pancakes, but then again I saw a lady on wife swap who didn't do too well making pancakes her first time.
The most difficult thing may be learning to put the film on the reels smoothly.
No doubt it can be learned from a book. Talking about black and white film. A book with a chart for development times and temperatures, won't take you long.
Your basic chemicals are fixer for the film and paper, film developer, paper developer. Some people go farther and use stop bath solution, I always went the low tech way and used water to rinse in between steps. Never had a problem with it.
Not expensive, or not as expensive, if you buy used equipment. Need the enlarger, timer(can do without, but makes printing so much easier and is worth having) trays, contrast filters, safe light, tongs keep your fingers out of chemicals, tanks for film developing.

You end up buying your stuff new, or even used, need to make sure what comes without it. What is listed as an enlarger may not include the lens, or negative carrier, or even the base board.
Rolling the film may be the hardest to learn, but printing without any dust showing was some times a real pain. That's a good thing about black and white digital.


To love this comment, log in above
3/28/2005 12:22:49 AM

 
Tiger Lilly
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/25/2005
  Thank you very much for your response. It may be a dying art with the digital technology, but it's something I've always wanted to learn. I'll start my search for a good book & used equipment asap! Thanks again.


To love this comment, log in above
3/28/2005 3:39:54 AM

 
Laura Roth   Also, I might suggest, if you've never printed before, see if there's a darkroom at a local community college or photo association or etc that can be rented out. I don't know where you are located, but many communities have them and it seems to be a good way to get a feel for it and experience before you lay down the money for all of the equipment. I am not, in any way dissuading you... I want to set up my own dark room too. : )


To love this comment, log in above
3/29/2005 8:39:03 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   I only slightly disagree with Gregory. Learning to load the film on the roller isn't easy but you will catch on with practice. Buy a few rolls of expired film (cheap) and practice putting the film on the roller in the light. When you can do it with your eyes closed, you are ready. The hardest part is learning how to set the aperature on the lens. You can't learn that from a book. You just have to practice. With practice, you will learn when it looks right. You may wasta a lot of paper but it will be worth it.


To love this comment, log in above
3/29/2005 9:10:24 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Didn't say it's always hard, said it may be hard to learn to do it smoothly at first.
Thumb and index finger is how you set the lens apeture. Any basic book should cover making test prints. Everything else works with the same length of time, distance, amount of light principles that involve taking pictures.
The dodge and burn tools in photoshop could be used as a first lesson on dodging and burning.
Much of printing sinks in quickly once you see it done, try it, then see the effects. But many people get frustrated because they get everything else going fairly well, but have trouble getting out the blocks with putting the film on the spiral.


To love this comment, log in above
3/29/2005 10:42:08 AM

 
Tiger Lilly
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/25/2005
  Ok, at this point, it's all Greek to me! With my work schedule, it may be a while before I can check out our community college; great suggestion though. Guess the 1st thing I need to do is familiarize myself with "blocks" and "rollers."
Thanks, to all of you, for your input!


To love this comment, log in above
3/30/2005 3:51:01 AM

 
Lorraine C. Pedersen   Although it was written many years ago, Ansel Adam's 'The Print' is very helpful. (Actually, the entire trilogy is helpful, but this one focuses on film and picture processing).


To love this comment, log in above
5/3/2005 2:19:39 PM

 
Tom Walker   kodak makes an inexpensive exposure guide that is basicaly a pie graph of different densities, you lay it on your paper, expose for a certain length of time and the look at the print. just read off the exposure on the pie shaped wedge that looks right to you. also do u plan on doing color? decide that b4 you buy an enlarger.


To love this comment, log in above
5/8/2005 8:28:54 PM

 
Tiger Lilly
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/25/2005
  Thanks, everyone, for the great info & suggestions.
Tom, yes I would probably be doing color as well, so I'll take that into account before getting the enlarger.
Thanks again ya'll!


To love this comment, log in above
5/9/2005 1:12:22 PM

 
Collette Photography
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/21/2005
  I have just started developing my own film, and I learned it all from just reading books, its a lot of fun once you get the hange of it. I was going to do B&W as well as color but then after bying all off the equipment realized how expencive the color chemicals are, so you might want to look into that before getting a color enlarger. Also I found all of my equipment on e bay for an incredible price, just make sure you ask lots of questions about the equipment before you buy it so that you dont end up with a lemon!


To love this comment, log in above
5/31/2005 12:36:39 PM

 
Tiger Lilly
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/25/2005
  Collette, thanks for your suggestion as well. Great minds think alike! I've already been checking out eBay (my 2nd love for shopping, right after Walmart...). Think I'm going to concentrate solely on B&W printing for the same reason you did.
Thanks again to everyone else also for your help & suggestions.


To love this comment, log in above
6/1/2005 7:12:52 PM

 
Log in to respond or ask your own question.