Unit 116 Photographic Materials, Techniques & Technology - Darkroom Equipment & Techniques

Darkroom health and safety

  • Keep the work area clean and uncluttered to prevent tripping over hazardous chemical bottles.
  • Separate the wet and dry areas.
  • Always segregate chemicals. 
  • Do not store chemicals on the floor or on the on the edge of a table.
  • Do not eat, drink in the darkroom.
  • The darkroom should be well ventilated.
  • Wear appropriate protective equipment whenever possible, such as gloves, goggles, etc.
  • Always wash hands with soap  after working with chemicals.
  • Pregnant women should not be exposed to powdered developer.
  • Keep all containers and trays closed or covered when not in use to prevent the release of toxic gases.


All photographic processing use a series of chemical baths. Processing, especially the development stages, requires very close control of temperature, agitation and time. 

The film is put in to the develop, depening on the ISO of the film cheas the amont of time it spends in the developer. for insten


Darkroom Manipulations/Techniques

Is like old school Photoshop but without the computers instead a lot of it is do by hand and guesswork. 

Dodging and burning are used to lighten or darken a part of the photograph to get better details in highlights and shadows.Dodging is a very important part of the manipulation process. Dodging holds back exposure in order to make it light.

Dodging can be used by hand or specific tools such as black cardboard or opaque materials so that shadows can lighten the image. Dodging is best when used in a circular motion on the image to get the desired result.


Burning is when the image receives more exposure so the image can darken. To avoid a very obvious change between the burned-in area and the rest of the image, the device must stay in motion. Burning is a longer process because it needs a longer exposure and time to change the image.


Solder burn, where you use a solder to burn the image after the image has develop

Sandwich printing is where 2 image are developed together on the same paper

Scratching is where you scratch the image using a sharp object to create

Darkroom Process

In ever darkroom you will have an enlarger this will produce photographic prints from film. it dose this by shining a light though the film carrier and out the lens onto the light sensitive paper. The paper then is put in to the Developer then put into the wash then into the fix and then back into the wash. This process is done multiple times until you get the perfect result or until you run out of paper.


A developing tank is a light-tight container used for developing film. A developing tank allows photographic film to be developed in a daylight environment.


Paterson Micro Focus Finder is invaluable for making sharp enlargements by giving a highly magnified image which allows you to find the grain and control focus aiding sharpness.




To move a solution over the surface of film or paper during processing to insure fresh chemistry comes into contact with the surface. Agitation should take place during each step of the printing process by gently rocking the tray.


Chemical solution that converts the latent image (still invisible) in exposed film to a visible image.

Stop Bath

Chemical solution that stops the development of the print.


Chemical solution (sodium thiosulfate or ammonium thiosulfate) that makes a photographic image insensitive to light. Fixer, also called Hypo, dissolves unexposed silver halide crystals while leaving the developed silver image.

Water Rinse

Preliminary rinse to minimize residual fixer from contaminating archival rinse.


Negative or print with minimal differences in brightness between light and dark areas. Necessary to use a higher contrast filter.


Negative or print with very significant differences in brightness between light and dark areas. Necessary to use a lower contrast filter.

Solarisation  is a process which involves re-exposing a photographic print to white light during the development of the print

ILFORD PLUS films (like HP5 PLUS) are an improved version of conventional technology black and white films. Their grain structure is similar to the traditional B&W films used for over a century.

ILFORD DELTA PROFESSIONAL films use a newer crystal structure called Core-Shell. These new technology crystals capture light more efficiently, offer a smoother tonal range, finer grain and greater sharpness than conventional technology films. DELTA PROFESSIONAL films, however, are generally less flexible when it comes to exposure and processing conditions than the plus range of films.

ILFORD MULTIGRADE FB CLASSIC is a premium quality, variable contrast, black and white photographic paper on a heavyweight baryta coated, fibre base. It is designed for creative printers wanting neutral image tone, great clarity and a good response to toners.

Versatile and easy to use, this paper creates rich deep blacks and has excellent tonal rendition.  MULTIGRADE FB CLASSIC responds well to toning, chemical reduction and retouching techniques, particularly on the glossy surface.

KENTMERE VC SELECT is a high quality, black & white variable contrast paper on a bright white resin coated base.

Ideal for students and hobbyists, KENTMERE VC SELECT delivers a wide tonal range and excellent image quality throughout its wide contrast range.