What do darkrooms signify in terms of Photography?


Darkrooms have been in the scene since the onset of photography. Dating back to the 19th century, dark rooms have been subjected to variable manifestations.  A darkroom is used for processing and making prints which help carry out other associated tasks. This room is made completely dark to carry out the processing of the light-sensitive photographic materials. This includes film and photographic paper.

There is a multitude of equipment used, ranging from an enlarger to baths containing chemicals to running water. From the initial development of the film to the creation of perfect prints, this room over centuries has provided the place that processes pictures and allows complete control over the medium. The use of this room isn’t just limited to photography. They also have a variety of other uses which include non-destructive testing, such as magnetic particle inspection.

The requisites:

The most common equipment includes an enlarger, an optical apparatus that is somewhat exactly like the slide projector which helps in projecting light through the image of a negative onto a base. In this process, the focus and quality of the produced picture are accurately focused. A sheet of the photographic paper is exposed to the light that is let in through the negative photography, which finally yields the positive version of the image on paper.

Role in photography

Darkroom plays a crucial role in every field of photo formation. A safelight is commonly put to use to illuminate the work area while one opts to print black and white prints. The majority of black and white papers are sensitive to only blue or blue-green light, a red- or amber-colored light can be easily used to illuminate the work area. Not only black and white print but color print papers are also put to use as per demands. Color print paper is sensitive to all parts of the visible spectrum and hence must always be kept in complete darkness.

Color print paper, being sensitive to all parts of the visible spectrum, must be kept in complete darkness until the prints are properly fixed. A very dim variation of safelight usable with certain negative color materials exists. But on the flip side, the light emitted by one is so low that most printers do not use one at all.

Another use for a darkroom is loading film in and out of cameras. They are also a favorite when it comes to development spools, or film holders, which requires jet black darkness. Many modifications make up for the lack of a darkroom. A changing bag can be put to use. This bag is a small one with sleeved armholes. They are designed to be completely light proof and are used to prepare a film before any sort of exposure or developing.

The artistic appeal of photos

For the lover of their craft, it isn’t unusual to prefer the look and quality of a darkroom print in comparison to digital print. A traditional printed image, shot on film, has grain. The look of the grain printed on fiber-based paper is breathtakingly stunning.

One of the most valued advantages of darkroom photography is that you have a negative to work from which isn’t the case with a digital file. Each image is unique as the prints are solely done by a person and not any other random machine. A darkroom print still looks superior to any digital file printed in black and white.

Fading away

Due to the ever-increasing popularity of color photography, smart phones, digital photography and complexity of processing color film; the darkrooms are slowly being replaced or shut down.  With the new cool of printing color photographs and instant photography technology followed later by digital photography, these rooms have considerably decreased in popularity.