Colour Me Dark 1

Over the past two darkroom sessions I’ve had this year so far I can clearly say I love printing in the darkroom. I was going to make a post about one session but before I got round to it I had another and colour printing was on the menu.

Darkroom Day 1
On my first session of 2013 I was a wee bit more controlled and focused on two 35mm photos, contact print a 16″x20″ image and dabble some colour negatives.

Black and White
The first image was a photo I made of Lou and Anna in the train home from Aberdeen post-Christmas, it was pretty tough because it was a really dark image. There was little light inside and I wanted a shutter speed fast enough to freeze as much action as possible on a bump train ride.

I struggled to get the blacks black enough so I ended up going with a grade 5 filter at around ƒ7 for 17 seconds with a great deal of dodging. I dodged Lou and Anna’s face and the bridge areas pretty much the whole 17 seconds.

I think I managed to get one decent enough print.

I then went on to do the ‘Police’ photo on 9″x12″ paper with a pretty much spot on guess test strip using a G5 filter.

I was quite happy with the high contrast grainy feel.

Contact Printing
This was my first attempt at making a contact print from a portrait Iain Kendall made of me using my Homemade camera with the Carl Zeiss Jena lens I was using before I bought the Rodenstock lens.

This is an inverted, though not flipped, digital photograph of the paper negative:

This was the last print from the first darkroom session at around 8.45pm, Stills shuts at 9pm so I didn’t have any time to do test exposures but this is what I managed, 16 seconds of pure light. It almost immediately went black in the tray!

I loved it though there’s a hell of a lot of artefacts probably from the perspex sheet I used to hold the negative onto the paper.

The B&W wall:


One of the Stills staff recommended I start with Cyan 0 and both Magenta/Yellow 50 and he was right, it was pretty much spot on for most of my regular negatives. Colour printing is interesting as anything involving the paper has to be done in complete darkness.

Anyway, the first negative you would choose to make your first ever colour print would be a really well exposed clean image, yes?

No, not me. I chose a screwed up FP-100C negative. I was very keen to see how one would look.

I made an adapter for the FP-100C negative to fit a 5×4 holder.

Then set about making some ugly prints

I finally realised I was being stupid and moved on to one of the few frames I made with the knackered Bronica Zenza before I gave up with it and handed it over to Iain Kendall as a project for him to fix, he did fix it up and has made some beautiful images with it.

So this is how my scanner saw the photo I named: “Anna Caged”:

Here’s the first test print with graded exposure timings:

My memory of the negative was of that green tint on the tarmac but in the actual print that green was blue. I played with the colour balance to reduce this blue cast by adding cyan and reducing magenta and yellow: C10 M45 Y45 but it wouldn’t really budge.

I then realised the original negative was cross processed Ektachrome so the colours were bound to be quite funky anyway, I also realised that my scanner is in no way a bastion of colour accuracy and so I just went with the blue hue.


Slide Printing
I tried to make a print from colour slide film using a similar process I’d tried with my paper negatives but it went all funky and was a fail.

I foolishly kept the paper in the light before putting it through the processor as I heard you could but the paper just fogged and died in front of me.

I reckon it could’ve been OK if I maybe just flashed the paper briefly before rinsing it in the dark, bagging it and taking it through to the processor. I might try that again next time.

Next up, day 2!

2 thoughts on “Colour Me Dark 1

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