Red Light in a Dark Room – Part 10

darkroom supplies

This week we take a look at how and where August develops her film. Thanks for sharing, August! Your alternative process ideas are also very interesting! Good luck, and we’d love to see how they turn out.

What is your darkroom? A room, closet or bathroom? Please tell us a bit about it.

My darkroom is in the basement of the Dunbar Community Centre; it is one of the last public darkrooms in the Parks Board system, let alone in Vancouver Proper! It has a quasi-high school sense about it. The space itself is about 6×10 ft. It’s cozy, but well equipped-everything you need for a black and white set-up.

What’s your process? Tell us a bit about your developing routine, especially if it’s tricky.

My process is pretty basic; I strive to create master prints and consistent negatives. I’ve had to get a little creative with my film developing, since we don’t have much space or a print dryer in the darkroom. So far, the best place to dry film is the ladies shower room, since it has separate metal stalls that you can sneakily lock from the outside.

What is your go to developer?

Hands-down, Kodak’s D-76.

What is your all time favorite Film/Film developer combo?

It has to be the now extinct old-formula Agfa APX in Kodak X-Tol developer. I made such amazing contrasty black and white prints with the perfect amount of grain and tonal range-I’ve so far not been able to replicate it. For the last few years I’ve switched between Kodak T-Max and stand-by Ilford HP5, usually processed in D-76.

What result/look does this give?

HP5 gives a nice tonal range that allows a fair bit of latitude when adjusting contrast. I love TMAX when I’m shooting landscapes and urban scenes-it is fun to push and pull this film to play around with the grain.

Have you tried any or are you into any alternative processes, such as cyanotype?

Yes-I have started to experiment with making some of my own chemistry, starting with a recipe to develop film using instant coffee! I’m also planning on making my own toner dyes if I can source the chemicals, and I also want to make a film developer formula that was intended to use to record nuclear blasts in the New Mexico and Nevada test grounds.

What is the best processing tip you can give?

When it comes to processing black and white, the most important detail is the temperature of your film developer. Get a film thermometer and make sure you’re exactly on. Nothing ruins a roll of film like over and under-exposure, and you have only one chance with negatives. It’s a good idea to have all your chemistry at the same room temp, but the developer is critical.

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Beau Photo Supplies Inc.
Beau Photo Supplies Inc.