Intro to Photography

The steps to a finished print

Make a test strip

1. Middle f-stops like f 11 or f16 are a good starting point. Click from the widest aperture down to the desired opening.

2. Cut a sheet of printing paper into 5 strips along the landscape dimension.

3. Lay the strip of paper in the easel, emulsion side up.

4. Use an opaque piece of cardboard to cover most of the strip of paper - about 85 % of it.

5. Set the enlarging timer for 14 seconds.

6. Switch on the timer to expose the uncovered area of the strip for 2 seconds.

7. Move the cardboard andcontinue counting every two seconds for a total of 7 separate 2 second exposures....

The test strip can be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. Any direction which gives you the most information in terms of how shadows, midtones and highlights will print at various exposures. Don't make test strips too small! This will not save, but waste photo paper and your equally valuable time. If the test print does not give you the information needed to correctly estimate print exposure, make another with more refined times.

Place your test paper on the focal point highlight. In the light, estimate the best exposure. If the whole strip is too light, open the enlarger lens 1 stop, if too dark, close 1 stop.

Repeat steps 1-7.

After getting a good highlight exposure, look into the shadows.... are they too dark? Too gray and light? ... or just right...?

...If dark and blocked, lower the contrast by putting a lower contrast variable contrast filter in the enlarger... start with a 1 1/2 grade

...If the blacks are gray and weak, raise the contrast by putting a 3 1/2 filter in the enlarger filter drawer.

Develop the test strip*

Developer: 1 minute, 2 min for fiber paper

Stop Bath: 30 seconds

Fixer: 1 minute for RC paper, 4 min for fiber paper.

Final Wash: 2-3 minutes (RC paper)

* developing times for Sprint chemistry

2. Estimate the exposure (time)

Print exposure determines overall brightness of a print. Too much exposure results in both shadows and highlights being dark, too little exposure leaves shadows and highlights too light.

3. Determine the contrast (contrast grade)

Contrast refers to the difference between shadows and highlights. A good print should have both light and dark areas and a lot of greys in between.

If you print on variable contrast paper, you can vary the contrast of your print using different filters or, if the enlarger has already build-in-filters, using the dials of the enlarger.

4. Expose a full sheet of paper as soon as you think you have the
correct exposure and contrast.

5. Burning and dodging

Burning: A technique to selectively add exposure to to darken an area of the print.
Dodging: To hold back exposure to lighten an area of a print.

6. The final evaluation

Evaluate the results in terms of the whole print. Try to view your results as if you are seeing the print for the first time.

Wet prints dry down in the light zones and lose contrast. What looks good wet in the darkroom, may be too dark or flat as a dry print.


For black and white prints with brilliant neutral tones. Dilute 1:9 with water.


Buffered and vanilla scented, with color indicator to signal exhaustion of working solution. Dilute 1:9 with water.


Odorless, non-hardening, non-bleaching fixer. For prints, dilute 1:9 with water.


Removes contaminants, and shortens archival wash times for black and white films and prints. Dilute 1:9 with water.


Converts RECORD Speed Fixer and BLOCK Stop Bath into hardening solutions for black and white films and prints. For films, add 30ml of concentrate per liter of 2:8 RECORD Speed Fixer working solution. For prints, add 15ml of concentrate per liter of 1:9 RECORD Speed Fixer working solution.


Includes anti-static agents for use with black and white films and prints. Dilute this super-concentrate 1:99 with water.


Back    Home

Print Developing Instructions
Church Door, Hornitos, 1940
Edward Weston negative, Cole Weston print