Digital Darkroom: Printing iPhone Photos Using Traditional Chemical Processes

Lincoln, UK-based photographer Adam Rhoades came up with an interesting way of printing digital photographs using analog darkroom processes. By mounting his iPhone (displaying a photo) onto a 35mm enlarger, he’s able to enlarge and focus his digital photograph on photo paper as if it were a negative being projected.

Using a grain focuser, he’s able to see the individual red, green, and blue pixels of his phone’s display.

There isn’t that much that needs to be done to the digital photos prior to darkroom printing. Rhoades simply flips the image and inverts it to create a “digital negative”, which ensures that it’s printed correctly.

Rhoades writes,

Dramatic vignetting can be seen in the prints, this is partially because of limitations of the rig and the slight darkness of the iPhone screen in the corners. Results vary depending on the size and contrast of the image.

I’ve had the best results with prints that are similar in size to the iPhone screen, much larger and the grid pattern of the pixels starts to show. However, reproducing at 1:1, as with the retina display, the pixels are indiscernible to the human eye.

These prints where made using Ilford Multigrade paper, exposed for between 4 – 10 seconds (depending on size) and wet processed using a mixture of Ilford/Kodak chemistry.

Here are a couple of sample photos he shot using this technique:

This process is like Polaroid Instant Lab on steroids.

Image credits: Photographs by Adam Rhoades and used with permission