I wanted to learn how to develop films myself so here the behind the scenes of film photography darkroom printing from the very basics with Branco Ottico focusing on black and white film rolls.
Behind the Scenes of Film Photography Darkroom Printing
with Branco Ottico
myself, @frizziola, @alberto_ciprian
Last month I was finally able to participate in a workshop about the darkroom. Incredible two full days to discover the process after you finish a film roll: from the moment of developing it in the tank to the time of printing films. It has been two years now I have been drowning towards analog photography without being able to access the second part of the amusement. I wanted to learn how to develop films myself so here Branco Ottico (a group of very passionate people) showed us film photography darkroom printing from the very basics.
Anybody can do it, you don’t need to be a scientist to print film yourselves. It’s essentially easy and highly rewarding. Keep reading.
An Introduction to Film Photography Darkroom Printing
It was a two days workshop. Everything started the first day with a small introduction and they we immediately walked outside for some work on the field. We all had different film cameras (35mm, medium format and camera obscura) and we started shooting bearing in mind the subject of portrait. Below a few images of the backstage of the day by Nicola (link above). In the afternoon we also did some studio shooting while developing the black and white film.
Focus on Black & White Film Rolls
I forgot to mention that we only used black and white film in order to be able to develop it ourse
lves. Black and white film rolls are easier and quicker than colour films due to temperatures and procedures. So that’s what we did in the later afternoon of the first day.
We took out our film roll in total darkness by using a specific box (of course after practise you would just need a no light room) and we developed the film rolls using dedicated tanks. We checked timing suggested by film roll producer leaflets and by experience on the most common film rolls and so it was.
Our film roll hanged there for one night to be then ready to the coming day for film photography darkroom printing.
Film Photography Darkroom Printing
The next day was all about printing. We had our film rolls developed, so Lina explained us how to print. And that’s what we did. We started after a lovely lunch and we finished really late. I was the last one but very happy with the results.
First we printed 1:1 our entire film roll. Then we chose one image to then print bigger. We all agreed on the silhouette guy photographing a shadow. What happens is that you invert colours, you check on corners, you try to balance and improve the lightest part of your images with filters while developing on the zonal tone you need according to the darkest part of your image.
Entire film roll printed 1:1
Chosen image printed bigger
Mine was already very contrasted on the darkest tones, so we only tried to make the wall in the picture appear in the four corners. This took a few steps but we then did it!
In the meantime that someone was developing in the darkroom, we were playing around camera obscura and here some funny results thanks to Alberto (link above), Simone and Tommaso.
Overall the two days were so full, funny and interesting at the same time. They made me rediscover my love for 120mm and the power you have in printing where you can control what you have shot and how you want your image to be.
I have enjoyed this weekend so much and I have learned something I was craving for so much time. Shooting analog and then using a darkroom is so satisfying and funny – don’t know why they don’t do extra courses at school! How much do you love photography? Have you ever tried shooting film? Let me know.