Darkroom Experiments

Below are descriptions of darkroom experiments we will be exploring during 4th quarter.

Begin with Paper negatives and Photograms.


Paper Negative: Use a piece of xerox paper, not a film negative, to make a print in the darkroom.

Things to consider– use an image that you 1st alter in photoshop

include text (written or typed in photoshop) in the image

Photogram: Place an actual object on the photographic paper in the the darkroom.

 Other possible experimental techniques to try:

Double Negative:

Definition:  two film strips that are placed on top of each other in the negative carer and then they are printed


place both strips in the negative carrier, do a test strip and a print

Tips: at least one negative should be thin density because your stacking two negatives together your gonna need more light to pass through them .Lower f stop to have more light passing through. more time is another way .Think about how your combining the  images together.


Definition: Developing a picture then your exposing it to more light


Do a test strip and expose the image for the full amount of time.

Instead of developing for the full time ,you decide when to take it out of the developer.

Take out photo put in a small tray and bring it back to the enlarger and flash it with light.

Then birng it back to the devloper and the develop it more.no specific amount of time again for the 2nd time  ,then you do the rest of the process normally.




Rotating the print easel at intervals so that the image prints as a kaleidoscope or mirrored image.


Do a test strip to determine exposure settings.

Set timer for partial times. At each new time interval rotate the print easel once.

Things to consider-photograms can be combined with negatives or used without negatives

-consider the outline shape/silhouette of the object(s) being used

-consider choosing objects with negative spaces

-consider the density of the object and how light with pass through it, for example the lemon

-cut or ripped paper may be used as a photograph element


Darkroom Experiment Tips:

Paper negatives- test strip at f11

Photograms- f8 and 15 secs

Double negatives- teststrip at f 8

Technical considerations – negative density (ideally 1 thin); and negative alignment

Content/compositional considerations – filling negative spaces, size variation (ex. Head shot vs full body), flipping negatives

Image rotation

Solarize- on 2nd exposure, turn the f-stop all the way down to largest opening



Low Light Shoot

Check out this link for additional tips:

Night photography cheat sheet

The bulb setting on your camera allows you to hold the shutter open for an extended amount of time

The bulb setting is used in low light situations (indoors without a flash or outside at night)

You do not use a flash when using the bulb setting

Set your camera to bulb by turning the shutter dial to the B setting

Set your camera to a high f-stop for a full depth of field (ex. f22)


Use color film (or DSLR)

Photograph a series of photos in each of the following bulb categories discussed in class:

Moving object or light– In this category you must include a still object as well as the moving object(s)

Still object in low light situation

Painting with light

Planning/Preparation HW:

-Brainstorm a minimum of 3 ideas for each category.  Be as specific as possible. Consider a range of unique light sources and interesting locations. LIST F-STOP FOR EACH.  Also brainstorm a list of 5-10 unique light sources.

Download free long exposure apps, such as LongExpo or Camera FV-5 Lite to use your phone to experiment with low light shoots.

-Research Youtube videos for how to shoot in low light

-Download and print 2 bulb images of interest from a stock photography site. Label each with the name of the site you found it on.







Light Meter

Light meter is a tool in your camera that tells you if you have enough light to take a picture

We use a reflected light-meter : reads light reflected off subject

Symbols: green dot=correct

red + = over-exposed (too much light)

red – = under-exposed (not enough light)

You are always aiming for “the middle.”  If your light meter is reading + or – you need to adjust the fstop and/or shutter speed to get a correct exposure.

Just because you have a correct exposure, DOES NOT mean it will be a “good” picture.

The light meter will change it’s reading based on:

-available light

-the value of the subject of your photo

To activate your light meter:

-put batteries in the camera

-turn the camera on

-look through the view finder

-focus on the subject

-depress the shutter release button half way to see the light meter scale

Evolution of the Camera

First camera: “pinhole camera” or camera obscura;

  • developed by Aristotle;
  • drawing tool
  • black box with tiny hole
  • temporary capturing of an image before invention of photographic paper
  • *****smaller pinhole, better the detail (need longer exposure time because less light)

-REVOLUTIONARY MOMENT: when mirrors and lenses went into pinhole camera

-mirrors not developed until Scientific Revolution

First picture recorded: Silver Gelatin (film print) black and white print by Niepce, 1824

The First Photograph

-photographers/scientists created an emulsion (chemical surface that’s light sensitive) that they would put on a silver plate and expose . . . (did not know how to stop developing from happening)

. . . finally figured it out in 1839; Daguerre discovered chemicals needed to stop developing process and fix; prints called “daguerrotypes”-one of a kind images done on a silver plate

-1st negative-glass negative called Callodine Wet-Plate Process

  • 1850’s-when photography was not for the masses
  • negative was the negative and photograph
  • had to develop immediately; could not store emulsion
  • process used in the Civil War

-Photography can have a bias. Based on how a photographer chooses to take their picture, they are impacting the viewer.

Stereographic Photograph

  • 1870’s

-invention of the “disposable camera

  • George Eastman invented film; where emulsion could be stored and dried; did not have to develop immediately
  • 1888
  • $25, 100 frames
  • person would send camera back, Eastman-Kodak cameras would develop film and send it back
  • HUGE IMPACT: photography now for the masses; artists now use photography as a use of art; more impressionism in painting

“Move It” – Compositional Devices

Today we discussed how moving the focal point out of the center of the composition can lead to the creation of more interesting photographs.  Three compositional devices discussed were:

Rule of Thirds (dividing the total composition into 3rds and aligning focal point on these imaginary line)

Golden Triangle (aligning focal points on diagonal lines)

Golden Ratio (based on the Fibonacci Sequence)

Some examples:

Portrait Photography/ Golden Ratios, Golden Triangle, Golden Spiral

(Note: Golden Spiral refers to Golden Ratio composition)