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Photography Question 
Jessica L. Cecil

How to develope film in a dark room?

I have just started to pick up the hobbie of taking pictures and I really would like to learn how to go about developing my own flim in a dark room and want kind of equiptment do I need to purchase to go about doing that?

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11/18/2006 12:29:38 PM

Bob Fately   Jessica, I heartily recommend that you get a book at the library to start your journey, as there are tons of little details. That said, here's the basics:

First of all, I assume you're talking about black and white film - color is nothing but a real pain to deal with on your own. You'll need a darkroom for two things - first, to load the film into a special cannister into which you will pour the chemicals needed and later to make the prints with an enlarger.

Cannisters come in plastic and metal models, but basically they are containers with special double-walled lids that allow you to pop off the top and pour chemicals in and out while the room lights are on. So you only need absolute darkness (and I mean *absolute* darkness, any light at all will fog the film) to load the film on the reels that go into the can. Kindermann makes good metal cannisters; Patterrson has plastic types. Either way, you'll want to practice with some scrap film in the light so you can learn the "feel" of how these things load up when you can't see anything.

As for printing, here you will need an enlarger and lens, trays to process the paper after it's exposed, and a safelight. The latter is an orange-colored light that the paper is "blind" to, so you can see even though it's not getting exposed. A timer is necesary as well, since you will need to be pretty precise about how long you'll expose the paper for. For that matter, you'll need a good timer for the film processing.

In both cases, the general development process has three steps: development, stop, and fix. that is, with both film and paper, first you use liquid developer (sitting in the tray or poured in the cannister) for a certain amount of time - dependand on the specific chemical and film or paper, etc. Then you pour out the developer and pour in so-called "stop", which ceases the develoment process. Finally you use "fixer" which makes the images permanent and nonfading over time.

At least that's the basic basics. Like I said, start with a book to get an idea of what's what, and perhaps eBay to find gear sonce with digital all the rage a lot of folks are getting rid of their old stuff.

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11/18/2006 3:02:15 PM

Michael H. Cothran   This is a process too lengthy to cover in a few paragraphs. Aside from Bob's good advice to check out some books from the Library (or a better bookstore), you might check some local community colleges for beginner b&w classes. This would be your best bet, since you would have an instructor always present.
Michael H. Cothran

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11/18/2006 5:30:24 PM

Howard O'Guin   Jessica,
You might check with your area library to ascertain whether there are any camera clubs in your area to join. The community college idea is also very good. I took Photography I and also II at our St. Louis Community Collage some 30-years ago and they had not only very able insturctors but also equiped dark rooms included in the enrollment fee. Also there is a lot of excellent used darkroom equipment out there that is sitting around collecting dust with the owners now using digital equipment. What city are you living in? I really need to clean out my basement of 50 + years of clutter and I'm sure that I'm not alone.


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11/23/2006 8:03:00 PM

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