As I was souping negs and printing contact sheets today, it occurred to me that perhaps you have never been in a darkroom. So how about a little darkroom tour?
If working with film that has just been shot, I need to work in complete darkness. It is best to mix my chemicals before I start! Once that is done and the trays are in order, off go the lights. I have already unloaded the film holders and placed the film in a special light proof box.
I know my way around in the dark because of practice!~With my nitrile gloves on, the negs are placed one by one, into the chemistry trays for about 15 minutes. I can work with a batch of 6-8 at one time, shuffling them slowly through the chemistry, moving them to the next tray when the time is up. From developer to stop bath, then to fix and wash, hold and then through some chemistry to discourage water spots. After a long washing, they are hung from the clothesline to drip dry. This whole routine can take an hour or more.
Once the negs are dry, I place them on the light box to examine them. It is now that I discover I was not as careful as I should have been...corners of the film are sharp and often scratch the soft emulsion. )((*&+)^@#$%^ and that negative is likely expensive garbage. How many are garbage? I don't keep count...it would be depressing but fewer now than when I first started tray processing.
The process is similar when working with prints except that the safelight can be on. That gives the room a lovely orange glow. I will post more on that later!