As with term one this is a ten-week project based assessment task that is comprised of practical coursework & related theory.
This project (Developing a Point of View) will introduce you to working with SLR cameras, developing film and projection printing in the darkroom. A significant part of this will be devoted to OH&S practices and understanding how chemical process affects film development and printing as well as producing proof sheets and working with test strips.
As part of your developing photographic practice you are expected to exercise your aesthetic sensibility guided by your understanding of the effective use of structural elements in composing your images and a professional approach to end to end darkroom processing. i.e., film processing / handling and darkroom processing (proof sheets, test strips, determining correct exposure, accurate focus and appropriate processing)
The first part of this task involves gathering images (one example of each) from a range of sources that demonstrate the following;
Balance (Different to symmetry. A balanced image does not need to be symmetrical, it’s about visual weighting)
Symmetry / Asymmetry
Download this Powerpoint presentation to see examples of the above
Working in the Darkroom
Generally speaking most modern darkrooms are safe to work in and provided you follow the appropriate OH&S procedures time spent in the darkroom can be productive and hazard free. Having said that there are some things to be aware of and things that you need to follow explicitly.
Working in a confined space requires some sensible behaviour on your part. Whilst the chemicals are hypoallergenic and low in toxicity you need to conduct yourself in a professional manner.
- Do not eat or drink in the darkroom
- Explicitly follow the manufacturers advice with regard to handling or preparing chemicals.
- Use tongs to transfer paper from one tray to another
- If chemicals are splashed on the skin or in the eyes you need to wash/rinse them immediately.
- Clean up any chemical spills immediately
- Clean up any water spills immediately
- Don’t run or engage in foolish behaviour when in the darkroom
- Don’t use your phone or iPod. Light from the screen can fog unprotected paper
Standard operational practices include;
- When coming into the darkroom turn on the safe lights and ventilation first
- Make sure the main lights are off
- Keep the light trap curtains closed
- Check for paper that may have been left out by the previous class
- Notify your teacher if developer and / or fixer is discoloured
- Refrain from handling the enlarger heads (they can get very hot)
- Avoid handling power-points / electrical cables etc with wet hands (reduces risk of electrocution)
- Avoid handling unprocessed paper with wet hands or fingers
- If you feel faint or dizzy leave the darkroom immediately and get some fresh air
- When leaving the darkroom at the end of the session turn off all power to enlargers (reduces risk of fire)
- Remove any debris from the floor
- Ensure that all processed paper is out of the fixer and wash
- Ensure that all boxed paper is back in its container
- Turn off the dryer
- Turn off the ventilation
- Turn off the safe lights
- Close the door to the darkroom when leaving
Standard darkroom layout is usually divided into wet and dry areas. In our darkroom the wet area is in the center of the room with the dry areas flanking both sides of the wet area. Please wipe down any water or chemical splashes or spillages in the dry area immediately.
Working with Chemicals
The standard processing work-flow for both film and paper is Developer > Stop Bath > Fixer > Wash > Dry > with the addition of a dip in either flow or wetting agent (for film) before drying.
As a student you will never be asked to prepare either film or paper processing chemicals. However, a working knowledge of sequences, times and ratios are part of related theory for the course.
In the darkroom the standard times are:
- Developer 1 min
- Stop Bath 30 sec
- Fixer 1 min
- Wash RC papers min 2 min
and standard ratios are:
- Developer 1+9
- Stop Bath 1+40
- Fixer 1+4
Some difference of opinion exists as to whether Stop Bath should be used. It’s a matter of personal preference and no technical evidence exists that points to the process being better off without it. On the contrary B&H Photo recommend use “Following this, the film or print is exposed to fixer (hypo). The advantage of the stop bath process is that it extends the life of the fixer. Some people do not use stop bath and, in that case, you must use an inordinate amount of fixer to erase the effects of the developer. If a stop bath is not available or chosen, the film or print should be thoroughly soaked in a water bath or rinse – with frequent changing of the water supply. Stop bath gives you the assurance that your developing stage is completely “over” and that none of the developer will be carried over to the fixer.” @ bhphotovideo.com
and in the interest of a balanced view,
“The other chemical used often is called STOP BATH. This is acetic acid which is found in orange juice. This acid usually has a colored indicator dye placed in it that is yellow when the acid is strong and useful and purple when exhausted and no good. In our lab for most classes we use just plain water to rinse off the developer for either film or paper. The stop bath or rinse is needed to remove the developer from the film or paper and keep it from wearing out the fixer as fast. It will allow more pictures to be processed in our chemicals. The Stop Bath is mixed from a strong concentrate that is ALWAYS added to a full container of water. Never pour a small amount of water into a strong acid as it can create air pollution and can splash in the eyes. For most of our work at Santa Cruz High we will not use real stop bath but will replace it with a good rinse of water.” @ scphoto.com
Developing your print
An extensive overview of the process is available here on this site
A comprehensive guide to print development is available for your reference from Ilford here