Thursday, 24 February 2011

Darkroom Shenanigans

Afternoon :)

I'm a happy little bunny today. Yesterday I had my darkroom induction and I was kinda dreading it. The whole loading film in the dark and screwing it up thing.... when I worry about things I worry about them far in advance!

I met Andy at 9.30am at the only spot on the Reading Uni campus I know, which is where our meetings are usually held. The Darkroom is housed in an old nuclear bunker building though, which involves walking to the other side of the campus, crossing the lake and then finding the 1960s building with a water tower on top of it! I'm not entirely sure I'll be able to get there smoothly when I go on my own for the first time!

Regardless, we got there and then got settled in. The room's fairly small, but will fit 2 people quite comfortably. Three would be pushing it! The door to get in is a tiny corridor with a lightproof door. It's the lightproof door that the fun lies behind!

Andy started off with showing me things one step at a time. So the first step was to load my film onto a spiral and place it in a developing tank. Andy demonstrated, then I practised twice and then it was time for the actual thing. Off went all the lights! 

Things went pretty smoothly as you can start to feed in the film to the spiral using the feeder before you need to turn the light on. However I did manage to get the film to pop out of the holder at one point, so Andy intervened to fix it. The second time it popped out I did it myself :) It's really wierd trying to pass something in the dark to someone that you know is stood in front of you but you cannot see at all! 

Once it was loaded, the lights got switched back on. Then we mixed up the developer and it was time to start! This stage goes pretty smoothly, so long as you keep an eye on the timer! Once the developer, stop bath and fixer have been done, the tank is flooded with running water for 5-10 minutes to wash away any remaining chemicals and silver. 

Half the water is poured away, and two drops of wetting agent are added to the remainder, and the tank is shaken for 30 seconds. The tank can be opened with the light on because the film has been fixed. The spiral opens and two clips are attached to the film on either end. One is weighted and placed at the bottom, the film is then squeegeed and hung up to dry in a drying cabinet. It's then cut into strips of 6 negatives.

That's the film developing done!


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