Making prints can be both the most exciting and the most frustrating part of making images. Printing takes time, patience, thoroughness, and vision. While it may be difficult to master, basic printing is a fairly straightforward process, and as with most crafts, refinements come with experience.

The Basics

The Darkroom

This section provides an overview of the darkroom, the equipment needed, and some general ideas on setting up.

The Enlarger

While not a terribly complicated piece of machinery, the enlarger remains the central piece of equipment in the darkroom. There are several common types.

Photographic Paper

Providing an overview of types and characteristics of photographic paper.

Printing Overview

While printing can become a somewhat complicated process, this section provides a general overview of the process.

Test Printing

Making useful test prints is an essential skill. Careful and methodical testing is the key to successful printing.

Contact Printing

Contact printing is used to make contact sheets, as well as reversals. Also described is the simplest method of making an image, the photogram.


Contrast Control

Except for the very rare perfect negative, all prints will require some degree of contrast control in the darkroom. Not to be seen as a salvage technique, contrast control provides enhancement of the image, and becomes the final step controlling the appearance (and the interpretation) of the image.

Split Filter Printing

Split filter printing takes advantage of the structure of polycontrast paper to separate highlights and shadows, giving very direct contrast control in the printing process.

Selective Exposure

Another method of refining a print is selective exposure, or burning and dodging. This method either hods back exposure or adds exposure to specific areas of an imAGE.