Site Updated
June, 2004

DARKROOM REQUIREMENTS

REQUIREMENTS FOR B&W PINHOLE PHOTOGRAPHY:

  • access to darkroom.
  • appropriate safelight.
  • light-sensitive material for camera negatives (photo-paper)
  • photographic paper for making positive prints
  • white light source for contact printing
  • processing chemistry appropriate to materials  

TEST CAMERA FOR LIGHT LEAKS:

Under safelight conditions remove photo-paper from packet and place inside camera - shiny side (emulsion) facing the pinhole. Place lid on the camera, make sure the shutter is in position (covering the pinhole aperture).

Take the camera outside in bright sunshine, do not remove shutter, allow sunlight to reach every side of the camera for a few minutes - the camera may be hand held for this testing procedure.

Return to the darkroom (safelight conditions), remove photo-paper from camera and process as normal.   The paper should remain completely white (unexposed).

Should you discover grey or black streaks/spots on the photo-paper it indicates that the camera is not completely light-tight.   Inspect the camera closely, reinforce any suspect edges/ corners with black gaffer tape and repeat light-leak test.

Now it’s time to experiment and make some interesting images !

In the darkroom reload camera with photo-paper (pearl surface is best but any type will work), take outside in bright sunlight, decide on a suitable subject (avoid pointing camera towards the sun), place camera on a firm surface (stabilise camera with a brick/stone in windy conditions) remove the shutter (taking care that the camera remains stationary) use a watch to time the exposure:

TRY A 30 SECOND EXPOSURE , replace the shutter and return to the darkroom and process in the usual way, examine the resulting negative :

  • too LIGHT ? needs more light (underexposed) therefore DOUBLE the exposure time (60 seconds)
     
  • too DARK ? needs less light (overexposed) therefore HALVE the exposure time (15 seconds)

Repeat this process until you have a satisfactory result, ensure the resulting negatives are correctly washed and leave to dry.


when completely dry make contact prints from paper negatives onto photo-paper.
use a contact printing frame or glass to ‘sandwich’ negative and positive together
.
make test strips, burn-in and dodge, process in the usual manner.

8”x10”
paper negative Multigrade paper

8” x 10”
positive print Multigrade paper

Remember we’re using photo-paper with a nominal ISO of 4, a pinhole aperture with a relative f-stop of f160 (near enough to f180) so we would predict an estimated exposure time of approximately 30 seconds in f16 lighting conditions.    On cloudy days/under different lighting conditions the exposure time must be adjusted - see available light
 

EXERCISES:

CAMERA TO SUBJECT DISTANCE:

  • Move in closer and further away from your subject and then compare your photographs with the original scene to determine what the camera ‘sees’ (angle of view).

CAMERA VIEWPOINT:

  • Change the camera viewpoint, place it on the ground, at eye level and experiment with looking up (low angle) and looking down (high vantage point).

EXPLORATION OF TIME/ MOTION:

  • Photographing people demands that both the camera and subject remain absolutely still during the long exposure times- try it and see how much movement/ blurring of the subject occurs.
  • Experiment with subject movement in front of the camera - halfway through an exposure  move or remove some of the objects that your taking a picture of to produce transparent, ‘ghost-like’ effects.

EXPERIMENTATION - WHAT IF ...........?

  • Be experimental, try out different ideas and if you want to learn from your experiences it is essential to TAKE NOTES of:
    • lighting conditions/ time of day
    • type of photo-paper (or other photo- material used)
    • exposure time
    • processing method employed
       

   ABOVE ALL HAVE FUN!



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