How to Develop a Photograph – Blog 2

This blog is a continuation of “How to develop a film”


Small recap: after the whole chemical process the film was left to dry for 4 – 5 hrs.

After the long wait the fun stuff can begin.


The first thing one has to do is to cut the film in sets of six images . This is done so that the images fit in the contact print box. Before developing the film the contact print is examined to evaluate roughly the amount of light required before actually developing.

The film is placed emulsion side up in the contact print box. Always make sure it is in contact with the paper. Before using a whole sheet of paper a test strip is used. Here one tests the amount of light needed, starting from 2 secs. After developing the image it’s best to repeat the process before developing a whole sheet to obtain the best timing needed for the images.  Once that’s done, one will have a rough idea of how much light the photos will need. This is also the time when one can choose the best images to develop them.

Photographic paper is expensive that is why tests sheets are used before the best images are selected for developing.

To develop a photograph the film must first be placed in the enlarger making sure the emulsion side is facing up. It is important to remove any dust as this will show up in the image if not removed.

darkroomTo select the size, the enlarger has to be moved up or down. The next thing to do, is to focus the image. This is done by turning the focus knob. To make sure that the image is crisp there is a tool called a micro focus finder. This tool is placed on the projected image. By looking through it, it is possible to obtain a sharp image. This is done by playing with the focus knob till a sharp grain appears.

It has to be ensure that the aperture is on a right setting, as this can influence greatly the darkness or brightness of the image.

The magenta knob is used to increase contrast of the blacks and whites. I normally start on 50 and play around with it during my test strip phase.

Once all is in order, a test strip is used to figure out the correct amount of light needed for the photograph. This might take a few tests till the perfect timing is chosen.

The final images are then ready to be developed.


How to develop?

When the photo paper comes out, the darkroom lights go on. Red light is the only light that does not effect the paper. When managing the enlarger it has to be made sure that the safety switch is in place. This allows one to make sure the image is in place on the paper without exposing it to light. After making sure that everything is in order the timer is set and the light switches on for the amount of time needed.

It is very important that when taking a paper out of the box no light is on apart from the red light. The box must also be closed immediately after the paper is removed. One mistake and a whole pack of papers become immediately ruined.


After being exposed to light the paper is taken to the developing station. The image is first placed in the developer for 1.30 mins, then placed in the stop for 30 secs and lastly in the fixer for 1.30 mins. The image is then placed in water twice in different trays. This is done to make sure that all the chemicals have been removed.

The image is then placed in a clean tray of water.


At the end of developing all the necessary images, they are then taken to be rinsed under running water for 15 mins.


The photos are then laid out on a rack  to dry.



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