Darkroom Printing



  1. Remove the easel (place to the back left side) and put the glass in place
  2. Raise the enlarger to height where the square of light just surrounds the glass (about 20” enlarger height)
  3. Set the f / stop to the brightest light
  4. Set the timer to 30 seconds (depending on the height of the enlarger)
  5. Make test strips to find the proper time
  6. Place fresh sheet of photo paper emulsion side up on the baseboard
  7. Place negatives on top of the photo paper (emulsion down), lay the glass down on top
  8. Press the button on the timer so the enlarger exposes the paper
  9. Remove the photo paper from under the glass and take it to the sink for processing



  1. Make sure easel is in place.
  2. After studying your contact sheet carefully, place your chosen negative in the negative carrier with the shiny side up and the image upside down to you. (the numbers will be at the back of the negative carrier)
  3. Inspect and clean your negative if necessary. (take it outside to the light…use dust brush and air compressor to clean)
  4. Put the negative carrier securely in the enlarger.
  5. Make sure the f/stop is wide open (go to the smallest number, brightest light).
  6. Raise or lower the enlarge to set the amount of enlargement. Generally, the lower the better.
  7. Turn the light on using the flip switch on the timer.
  8. With the easel in place, focus and compose. (As you focus, reset the easel position to make sure that the easel crops into all edges of the picture.)
  9. Turn off the light on the timer.
  10. Make a split time test strip using increments of 20 seconds, 2-3 times, so that you have 20, 40, and 60 seconds represented on your test strip. Note: This can be any increment you want. If your negative is light, try 3, 6, and 9 sec. Or, 30 use seconds increments if the negatives are extra dark (very white on your contact sheet). These are just examples.

11.   Process the test strip in the chemicals.

a.             Place the print in the developer so that the print gets wet evenly.

b.             Leave the print in for the entire time so the highlight areas will develop properly

  1. When the test strip has been in the fixer at least 30 seconds, you may study it in white light - when you have discovered the unit that has a truly BLACK black and yet the whites have not begun to go gray, return to the enlarger.
  2. Set the timer for the time you feel is correct according to the first test strip, expose a second test strip for the single time.
  3. Expose a full sheet of paper using appropriate time, being careful to place the paper up against all of the black tabs.
  4. Write down your exposure time on the log sheet, even if you are done with a print.



§         The most common mistakes made in the darkroom are:

1.       Be sure to initial the back of your paper lightly with a ball point pen or sharpie BEFORE processing.

2.       Leaving negatives in the enlarger

3.       Forgetting to turn the filter ON after focusing and composing.

4.      Paper fog. Photo paper may only be opened under "SAFELIGHT” for about 5-8 minutes before it will fog. White (normal, fluorescent) light will cause the paper to turn black and unusable.

5.       Always do a new test strip at the beginning of a new day…even with the info from your log sheet, you still need to do a test strip.

6.       Get the print right on a test strip. If your initial test strips are small, do a final test strip that is significantly larger.

7.       You MUST leave your prints in the fixer for the correct TOTAL amount of time. The “30 second” time is for test strips only. If you want to keep your test strip, you need to put it back in the fixer. The “1-minute” time is for inspection only of your prints. You must put the print back in the fixer. Not fixing long will cause the print to turn yellow in a few hours, days or months.

§         Please leave the darkroom cleaner than you found it returning any materials borrowed to their proper place.


§         Remember that darkroom time is wonderfully odd - but you still need to get to your classes on time.


 In an effort to make follow the "No paper left behind act"...I will bring photo paper to you at your station...and WATCH you put your name on it.


Enlarger Height Note: For the normal lens (50mm, 35mm negative), the following heights are the minimum to make the indicated size:

    8x10 Horizontal or Vertical = 12"

    8x10 Vertical of a horizontal image = 16"

    5x7 Horizontal = 9.5"