When you can get excellent prints from your black & white negatives by sending them off to commercial processing laboratories, why make your own?
For many photographers, making a photographic print is as much a part of the process as shooting the image itself. For a start, it is a creative process that is both enjoyable and fulfilling and, much like the role of a post processing tools such as Photoshop or Lightroom in any digital workflow, (although much more fun) a darkroom provides film photographers with the ability to turn their negatives into enlarged prints that match their original vision.
Producing your own prints allows you to custom the print and enlarge it to almost any size and shape desired. The choice of papers complement this creative output (see our guide to choosing papers) with many options available covering tone, surface finish, base material and paper grade.
Processes such as ‘dodging’ and ‘burning’, familiar to many digital users, are just a couple of the Photoshop tools that originated as darkroom techniques. The key difference is that in your darkroom you are using your hands or pieces of card to dodge and burn (hold back light from or give extra light to selected areas of your print which allows you to emphasize key elements of the picture).
Other simple techniques can be used to great effect such as using different contrasts for different areas of the print or using two or more negatives to produce one print. Developing your skills as a printer will allow you to make outstanding, individual prints that give you great satisfaction and pleasure.
You do not need a purpose-built darkroom. Any room that can be light sealed will work perfectly. Our customers regularly turn their spare bedrooms, bathrooms, attics, basements, cupboards under the stairs and even their garden sheds into temporary darkrooms. As long as you can stop light from entering and have enough space to work, you can start making prints.
Posted on 12th April 2017
Posted on 19th November 2020
Posted on 11th September 2020