How to Make a B&W Photo Print in the Darkroom: A 7-Minute Crash Course

Ilford recently released a popular 8-minute video on how to process black-and-white film yourself, and now the film company is back again with another helpful crash course on how to make a black-and-white print in a darkroom. If you’ve never worked in a darkroom before, this intro is a great way to see what it’s all about.

“There is nothing quite like the magic of seeing your first print appear in the tray,” Ilford says. “If you have always wanted to learn how to make a black and white print in the darkroom then this is the perfect video for you.”

The video is broken down into 7 different sections:

Part 1: What you will need (00:08)

You’ll need to get quite a few resources and materials together before you can start working, including a pitch-black room with enough space to work, an enlarger, chemicals, and a number of smaller tools and items.

In terms of chemicals, you’ll need three (with three trays for them): (1) the Developer that makes the image appear on your photo paper, (2) the Stop bath that stops the development process, and the Fixer that fixes the developed photo, making it permanent.

Part 2: Preparing the chemicals (01:28)

Next, you’ll need to prepare the chemicals you’ll need for your tray, calculating the appropriate ratio of chemical to water for each.

Part 3: Choosing your negative (02:45)

Placing your film strips on a lightbox, use a loupe to choose the one you want to print before placing the strip into a negative carrier to isolate that photo.

Part 4: Focusing your image (03:07)

Place the negative carrier into the enlarger to project your photo onto the easel. Raise and lower the enlarger head to adjust the size of your projected image, and use the focusing wheel and a focus finder to focus it.

Part 5: Setting the aperture (03:33)

Set your enlarger’s lens aperture (Ilford recommends f/8 as a good starting point) and insert your desired filter.

Part 6: Making a test print (03:52)

Setting a timer for increments of a certain number of seconds (Ilford recommends 5), expose one section of a piece of photo paper at a time by covering less and less of the paper during each increment. This is a “test print” that shows you the resulting images produced by different exposure times.

The test print allows you to pick the best exposure time for creating your actual final print. You’ll need to develop, stop, and fix the print before giving it a bath in water.

Part 7: Making the final print (05:26)

Using the exposure time you figured out in Part 6, repeat the same steps to create your final print. Voila! You’ve created a print.