Back in the day, darkrooms are the go-to photo processing and printing laboratory of photographers. With the popularity of digital photography, darkroom photography took a back seat.
However, even with the dominance of fast-paced digital photography, darkrooms are still present in some professional photo studios, universities, and photography schools.
In this article, we will explore what is a dark room photography and why it is still an essential know-how for students and professionals.
Darkroom photography is a process of handling and printing film or negatives in a room with less light or no light at all. This room is called the darkroom.
What is a dark room used for? In a darkroom, photographers develop light-sensitive materials, such as negatives, into printed photographs.
Why are photography students and those in related fields still taught about darkroom photography? This type of photography leads to an understanding of the complexity of an image and how it is created. It exposes how creating a photograph is a thoughtful process that involves knowledge of camera settings, composition, lighting, and more.
How To Set Up A Darkroom
A darkroom is a small, dark space where you can process negatives and print photos. To create a perfect darkroom, follow these steps:
Find A Room
Look for a suitable room that can be dark when necessary. There should be no light inlet or windows. If you need partial light, choose a place with tiny openings. If you have selected a room with windows, install dark-colored curtains or blinds that will block the light. Remember that darkroom photography can only take place in a dark room.
The room should measure 25 square meters maximum, with running water and wall outlets for your equipment.
Also, the room should be well-ventilated. An efficient fan will be needed to clear the air from chemicals.
Install A Working Table
A countertop is essential in setting up all your equipment. It will also be the space where you will process your photos. A desk with drawers can help you store other tools and supplies for pre and post-image processing.
Install the working table on the west side of the room. You may also install it somewhere near your water source. Here, you will need materials such as trays, funnels, clips used for film drying, bottled chemicals, and the graduated cylinder.
Because you will be using chemicals for image processing, it is best to have safety equipment available at all times. Latex gloves will work best for the job.
Equip The Dry Side Of Your Darkroom
The dry side of the darkroom is where you keep your enlarger and photo paper. Other materials on this side of the room are the timer, easel, safelight, film reels and tank, and the grain magnifier.
Prepare A Safelight
To work efficiently, you will still need a light source inside the darkroom. Safelights are used for this purpose. You can purchase safelights in photography stores or online shops.
Photography enthusiasts may skip learning about what is a dark room photography. However, basic knowledge about it will facilitate a deeper appreciation of the craft. Experience it yourself.
Enroll in a darkroom photography class, or ask a photographer for a tour. Learn how to develop films in a dark room. It is worth your time. It’s where photography started, after all. Learn more about cameras here!