Introduction to the Darkroom
Introduction to the Darkroom
This course is for beginners to introduce them to film-based image capture and processing. Students will learn about all basic darkroom processes and printing.
This course is entry level and designed especially for the beginner to introduce them to film-based image capture and processing. Students will learn about all basic darkroom processes and printing.
- B&W film processing
- B&W paper development
- Contact sheets and enlarging
- Test strips and print controls
- Contrast filters
- Dodging and burning
- Photographic retouching
- Print evaluation
- Toning photographs
- Basic window mat cutting
Mark Goddard teaches this subject and says
“Don’t be afraid of the dark…room! Come and see the magic as prints appear before your eyes as you learn about black & white printing and film processing. This is a terrific class in taking an intuitive approach to making photographs and thinking more about your subject matter. Darkroom printing is also a very helpful method of understanding an image’s tonal range and contrast control, which will inform your digital post production work.”
Please view the calendar for key dates at the CCP.
Early Enrolment Discount
A $40 discount applies if full payment is made before the Term Census Date.
- Introduction to Photography or equivalent
9 weeks, 3 hours per class. Students should expect to do at least an extra 6 hours a week of work, much of this in the darkroom.
- 35mm film camera with manual controls
- All chemistry and consumables are supplied, but students will supply their own film and paper.
Why study darkroom in the 21st Century?
When I enrolled at the CCP I was surprised to see that we had to undertake subjects using film cameras and learn darkroom skills. I remember asking myself “what use is this in the digital age?”
How wrong I was in this thinking.
Through using film I learnt to slow down and consider my photography. I tried to envisage what it might look like once I developed the film. I visualised the photograph before pushing the shutter release. By slowing down:
I became a more thoughtful and reflective photographer
I was challenged to move around the scene in order to construct the best image
I also became more conversant and confident with using the aperture and shutter speed settings.
I was able to translate all these skills and dispositions to my digital work.
Working in the darkroom helped me understand that as photographers we truly “paint with light”. The time of developing the film is full of anticipation if not some anxiety as I would wait to see if I actually had negative images on the roll. I was always and still am excited to see the negatives knowing that I would be able to print my images.
The process of printing always seems to be rather mysterious, almost magical. Watching the image slowly appear and looking to see if I achieved the image that I constructed in my head when I first took the picture has its own challenges but also rewards. Again the process is slower than digital printing as I would often return to the negative to dodge and burn in order to create the image I was after.
One final point is that I have never reproduced the quality of my black and white film based prints with my digital camera and processing. Perhaps this is my lack of skill but I believe that film based black and whites are deeper in the black and richer in whites.
The work I undertook with film and in the darkroom has made me a better digital photographer. I no longer need to take hundreds of images to get that “good one”. I am more considered and reflective and I am always looking more deeply at what is in front (and behind) me before I press the shutter.