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Revisiting the Darkroom

Recently when meeting with a client for private instruction she shared with me some of her most recent creations called “Photograms”. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the process It is a darkroom procedure that can be easily done by anyone even if you do not have a darkroom.

A photogram is a photographic process where you will place objects on photo sensitive paper and expose the paper and objects to light. Wherever the objects lie they will be blocking the paper from being exposed to the light and those areas will appear white. The images will appear as a negative of the objects with variations in tone depending on the opacity of the objects. The paper is then put through photographic chemicals and you will have created a genuine silver print.

I am fortunate enough to have a working darkroom in my home so I decided last weekend to revisit the darkroom. I went out in the garden and gathered some dried flowers to use as my subjects and proceeded to arrange them on the paper in the darkroom. After they were exposed to the light for about 15 seconds, I then put them through the chemical process.

This is a very accessible and low cost alternative process for anyone to try. It will give you a feeling of being in the darkroom again and for me it brought back very fond memories.

Here’s what you will need:

Photographic Paper-Ilford multigrade 8x10 25 sheet sells for about 25.00 Paper Developer-Ilford MG Developer sells for about 12.00 to make 5 liters). Indicator Stop Bath-to stop the developing-sells for 13.00. Fixer-to fix the silver to the paper-about 11.00 for 2.5 liters. Safelight-which is a red light that will allow you to see in the dark. Paper trays- to put the chemicals in. Someplace to hang the paper to dry.

Helpful Hints:

Try to use objects that have some transparency to achieve a larger tonal range. You may have to increase time to get a rich dark background.

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