Photography Reference

Water Baths

Water baths are useful for affecting the shadows or highlights, depening on how you look at it. Water baths retard the development of shadow detail, so it allows highlight detail to develop while the shadow detail is “put on pause”. During normal development, the paper is placed in the developer and agitated while in the developer, allowing fresh developer to replace areas where it has been exhausted due to the shadow development. (Note, it is important to think about this process on a very small scale.) As shadows develop, they exhaust the developer much more quickly than the slow developing highlight detail. Thus, if we don’t allow that “exhausted” developer to replenish itself, it won’t be able to continue developing the shadow areas, but the developer in the highlight areas won’t have exhausted quite as quickly.


Split Grade Printing

Controling contrast and darks/lights is a fine art printers more challenging roles, especially when dealing with difficult negatives. Getting that highlight to come in at a nice point, and that shadow to print where it is not too stopped up can sometimes be really difficult. Split grade printing is another tool that a printer can add that will help to give them more control over their prints.


Pre-Development Bleaching

Sometimes, reducing contrast is something that a printer wants, and for one reason or another cannot obtain easily. For example, using a graded paper, or having only a high contrast developer available. When this is the case, it’s possible to reduce the appearant contrast to any grade below the current value.


Photographic Paper Tests

Maximum Development Time Test (MDT)


Photographic Paper Speed

Most of these paper speeds have been obtained from the manufacturer.


F-Stop Printing

When shooting our photographs, we all think in f-stops and zones, but when we step into the dark room, all of those principles are thrown out the window. The silly thing is, every single one of those principles apply in almost the exact same way. Paper is exposed exactly the same, add one stop of light, and you’ll get one more zone, subtract a stop and you’ll drop by one zone on your paper. Then why the heck do we think in time instead of stops? Well, because that’s what most of our timers give us. Until you get one of these. This is a timer that sets an inital “time” but then works in stops from there. Is the print too light, add a stop, or want to darken one area of the print by 1/2 a zone, then add 1/2 a stop, not 32.5 seconds.


Paper Flashing

Often times, burning in a small spot or an area with lots of different tones can be very difficult. You could burn it in, but you run the risk of letting your shadows go too dark, and not getting enough in the highlights, especially in very bright highlights such as skys, near lights, and other problematic spaces. Paper flashing is a really good way of dealing with this.


Film Development

These are generic instructions for developing black and white film. Each film and developer combination will have slightly different times and temperatures for which they give ideal results. You will need to test your particular film and developer combination. The values given below are just recommendations.


Dodging & Burning Tips

  • Use what ever works, tools, cardboard, hands, etc.
  • Unless the obvious is part of the print, work subtly, don’t let the viewer see your dodges and burns.
  • When using dodgers on a wire, and bend the wire so it goes up the light path before out of the print. This will help diffuse the light the runs along the path of the wire, helping to make it more invisible.
  • Try to follow natural lines in the print when dodging or burning.
  • Moving the dodger or burn item up and down the light path will help to diffuse and work the correction in to the print and make it look more natural.
  • Bleach may be a better alternative to dodging.
  • A foot switch will give you an extra hand.
  • With VC paper, you can dodge/burn at different filters, allowing you to show more detail in highlights or other areas.
  • Burning the sky in a bit will help enhance the ariel perspective, and give a greater realistic view.
  • Burning the edges and/or corners will help to keep the image contained and prevent it from “falling out”.
  • It may be easier to think in tones and f-stops when burning, rather than times. Though if you do use times, use percentages, as it’s easier to convert to larger images when the times comes.

Beers Developer

Solution A Solution B
  • 3000 mL Water (hot 100°F+)
  • 32 g Metol
  • 92 g Sodium Sulphite
  • 94 g Sodium Carbonate, Anhydrous

Mix above ingredients one at a time until dissolved.
Bring to 4000 mL with additional Water
Allow to cool to room temperature before using.

  • 3000 mL Water (hot 100°F+)
  • 32 g Hydroquinone
  • 92 gSodium Sulphite
  • 124 g Sodium Carbonate, Anhydrous

Mix above ingredients one at a time until dissolved.
Bring to 4000 mL with additional Water.
Allow to cool to room temperature before using.

Solution C
  • 1000 mL Water (room temperature)
  • 10 g Benzotriazolate

Mix above until dissolved


Bleach Recipes

The following bleaches work well for different things and are pretty useful. The receipies are all for “stock” solutions, not working solutions. See the section on bleaching for making working dilutions.