Stupid Darkroom Tricks?
December 10, 2009 7:37 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for simple techniques, tricks, or experiments to get interesting results from a home B&W darkroom.

So after a really, really long time I finally have a darkroom set up and working at my house. I think I've re-learned most of the basics...printing, burning, and dodging. Now I want to try some special effects and experiments.

I bought a really interesting book on alternative printing that was WAY too technical. I'm not a gearhead, and I'm not crazy about the idea of buying and mixing my own chemicals.

What I'm looking for are more like "stupid darkroom tricks." The one I do know about is the Sabattier effect, which is easy to do but unpredictable and fun.
posted by JoanArkham to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Some things to Google:

  • Bleaching
  • Sepia Toning
  • Split Toning
  • Photograms
  • Cyanotype
  • Liquid Light
  • Pinhole cameras (paper negatives)
  • enlarger perspective shifts
  • masking
  • photomontage (c.f. Jerry Uelsmann)
  • Infrared Photography
  • Split Contrast
  • Platinum/Palladium printing

  • posted by joshwa at 8:06 AM on December 10, 2009

    It's not so much a trick, but contact printing large format negatives is awesome and something you can't really simulate with digital. Also pretty easy to do.

    Another thing you can't fake is learning to platinum print. You do need to do some basic chemical mixing but it's nothing to difficult to learn. Irving Penn's Platinum Prints might be an inspiration.
    posted by sully75 at 8:10 AM on December 10, 2009

    Put different objects over the paper as you expose it to the negative image: try wrinkled cellophane, transparencies with images drawn on them, etc. Or just solid objects that will register as white shapes over the printed image.

    Expose the same paper with two (or more!) different images.

    Put the paper on a convex or concave surface to stretch the printed image.

    Fold your print paper into origami shapes, then expose it.

    Not sure if this is what you're looking for, but these are things I've tried that were a lot of fun.
    posted by Rykey at 8:14 AM on December 10, 2009

    Just about every step in the developing/printing process can be experimented with, to varying degrees of success. Read up on techniques regarding pushing/pulling your film during processing. This is probably everyone's first area or experimentation. Of course, this means shooting a roll expressly with the understanding that you will be experimenting with it and, possibly, ending up with junk results. Still, it's an important tool to understand.
    posted by Thorzdad at 8:38 AM on December 10, 2009

    Response by poster: Thanks, all! Not marking "best" since these are all good.
    posted by JoanArkham at 12:11 PM on December 10, 2009

    Not a darkroom technique, but you may be interested in hand coloring your photographs.

    There are interesting things in an old Kodak publication Creative Darkroom Techniques. Some are easy, others harder. Some just look like bad photoshops. Some involve mixing chemicals. Some call for films and other materials that might not be available today. I have a copy from 1975 that I keep around for ideas of things to try in photoshop, though I'd have a real darkroom if I could.
    posted by DarkForest at 5:07 PM on December 10, 2009

    I know I'm late here, but solarization!
    posted by iliketolaughalot at 11:02 AM on December 12, 2009

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