Before We Begin

Getting Started

The Process

The Process II


Print Drums

Temperature Control

Tips / Miscellaneous



Film Development:
  • Get your film developed cheaply: Go to a Walmart, a Zehrs, or a Loblaws and tell them that you only want your film developed. No proofs, no CD, just the negatives. They shouldn't charge you more than $2.00 a roll. If you're in Toronto, you can get this done at Eight Elm or Toronto Image Works. They'll also develop 120 film for the same price.
  • Even though Walmart doesn't officially develop 120 film, they are often equipped to do so. If you are nice enough to the staff, you might be able to convince them that it can be done!
  • No enlarger lens is perfect. Some are better than others, but all lenses perform well at certain f/stops and poorly at others.
  • Printing wide open, while providing the most light, usually leads to uneven light coverage, with more light in the centre. This can lead to some vignetting (with the corners receiving less exposure than the centre.)
  • Printing extremely closed down will reduce overall sharpness due to diffraction. Intuition would tell you that the smaller the aperture, the sharper the image. (Group f/64, right?) While the depth of focus increases as your aperture gets smaller, light begins to behave strangely as it passes through smaller channels. This phenomenon is known as diffraction, and is very interesting to read about! (Wave-Particle duality, anyone?) Suffice it to say, however, that as you close down past your lens' diffraction limit, the image, while technically in focus, becomes fuzzier and fuzzier.
  • Avoid printing with your lens at an extremely wide or an extremely closed aperture. Lenses tend to provide the best over all sharpness when closed down two or three stops from wide open (i.e, f/8, f/11)
  • If you need to close down to an uncomfortable f/stop because the projection is too bright, you can instead opt to add ND (neutral density.) This is done by introducing Cyan into the filter pack. Cyan serves to counteract the effect of equal values of both Magenta and Yellow, while at the same time dimming the projection. For example, a filter pack of 30M/30Y produces the exact same hue as a filter pack of 30C/60M/60Y. The only difference is that the projection appears to be about a stop darker.
  • Carefully align your enlarger! Resort to whatever quackery is necessary to ensure that:
    1. Your negative stage is parallel to your lens stage
    2. Your lens stage is parallel to your baseboard
    3. Your easel is perfectly level.
Only if ye answer these questions three, ere the other side ye shall see.
  • Paper emulsions change from batch to batch (box to box). This is known to affect colour balancing. If you want to be absolutely certain you can use your old filterpacks with confidence on a different box from the same manufacturer, check the emulsion code on your box. If  it matches, you're good to go.
  • Taking the above into account, and given that smaller paper is much cheaper than larger paper, a good trick is to match emulsion codes if you are buying several sizes at once. If for example, you buy a box of 20x24" paper, buying a box of 8x10 paper with the same emulsion code means you can make your test prints on the cheap 8x10" paper, rather than having to cut down the 20x24" paper for test prints. This means you can actually get 50 prints out of your 50 sheet box of 20x24" paper!

Omar Elkharadly, 2010