5 Steps for Budget-Friendly B&W Darkroom Prints

Darkroom printing is a hands-on and immersive way to bring your images to life. To get started on this rewarding journey, follow these five steps. We’ll also highlight five essential must-haves that you can easily grab from us at Photodom to enhance your darkroom printing experience – all for under $120!

Step 1: Prepare Your Darkroom

Before you dive into darkroom printing, ensure that your darkroom is properly set up and organized. The key components include a light-tight space, an enlarger, trays for chemical processing, a safelight, and a workspace for arranging your materials.

Step 2: Choose Your Negatives

Select the negatives you want to print. Remember, the quality of your prints begins with the quality of your negatives. Be sure to handle your film with archival gloves and grab a duster to ensure they’re clean and free from dust or scratches. Once you’ve selected the negative you want to print, be sure to store your remaining film into an archival sleeve.

Archival sleeve

Step 3: Set Up Your Enlarger

Position your enlarger over your work area and install the appropriate negative carrier according to your film format. Focus the image on the enlarger’s baseboard or a disposable sheet of paper by adjusting the enlarger’s height, focus, and aperture settings. This is where a focus loupe can be incredibly handy. Use it to inspect the sharpness of your image with precision, ensuring you achieve the desired clarity in your image.

Focus loupe

Step 4: Print Your Image

Now, it’s time to print. Load your selected photographic paper into the enlarger’s easel. Turn on the enlarger to expose the entire paper for 30 seconds. During this time, expose different sections of the paper at 5-second intervals to capture the image’s appearance at 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 seconds. This process will create a test sheet. Once you’ve determined your settings and exposure time, carefully align a new sheet of paper to ensure the desired composition and crop. Select glossy, luster, or satin paper for your preferred finish. Get the value pack from us, which includes photo paper and two 35mm, black and white film rolls. Find your choice of photo paper to enhance the details and tones in your images.

Photo paper

Step 5: Develop and Protect Your Prints

After exposure, move the exposed photo paper to a series of trays for processing. Use developer, stop bath, and fixer sequentially to bring your image to life. Rinse the print in water, and then let it dry. Once dry, you can place your stunning darkroom prints in archival sheets, protecting them from dust, fingerprints, and damage. Be sure to monitor the temperature of your chemicals with a thermometer to maintain the accuracy of your processes.

Fixer
Developer
Stop bath

Showcase the beauty and artistry of your photography with this quick, easy guide! Keep in mind that the quality of your materials, such as using unexpired photo paper and chemicals, having archival sheets, a focus loupe, and a thermometer, can have a significant impact on the final outcome. Photodom is an excellent source for these darkroom essentials – providing you with the tools you need for success in your darkroom endeavors. Visit us today and enjoy the creative journey of darkroom printing!

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Isis Jannierre
Isis Jannierre
New York City-based fine arts photographer, Parsons School of Design alumna - capturing and highlighting environmental, social, and cultural issues through an objective lens.
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