Ratical : Analog Photography

Darkroom Printing and Another Tripod Rule

It has been my experience in work that a handful of methods provide the basis for subsequent learning. These methods are themselves insights connect with a vision and give a student of any subject a foothold.

Workprint Records

The range of techniques available in the darkroom are staggering, but for me the first big insight came from video Douglass Vincent recorded on printing with Ilfochrome . He used a worksheet where he recorded the settings he used in a table along with an area to draw or write notes.


1 2 3 4 5
Image Size          
Column Height          
Filter/Time 1          
Filter/Time 2          

(I also include a copy of the photograph which can be annotated with crop marks and other annotations.)

The art of analog printing begins with a pencil and paper! The mental work is a record that expands with each attempt, and records act as a templates for future work.

Over time part of the design that goes into a print is to update the worksheet itself. Afer discovering split-grade printing I modified the table to accommodate highlight a first and second exposure as a standard aspect of the print.

Aligning Frames

I use a tripod as often as I can. Without the advantag of a high ISO sensor or image stabalication a tripod enables me to waste less shots, but I have always find it to be a great aid in composition.

Almost by accident I also discovered that taking multiple frames from the same exact vantage point makes it possible to take part of a scene from one frame and juxtapose it with a subsequent frame without compromising perspective. Even with the simple tools available in the darkroom, a tripod makes near-perfect alignment of hard lines is possible.

With digital editing a tripod has been used to create many deceptive images. (Imagine a busy highway where no vehicles appear in the final scene.) For me this is a compelling reason to live with the limitations of a darkroom—or at least to edit in ways that are consistent with a darkroom. For me part of the charm in analog photography is it's potential to be and authentic. This is also an opportunity for the photographer to be humble about what he or she is trying to accomplish.

Last updated on July 12, 2023