Notes from September 16



HENRI CARTIER - BRESSON, (Behind the Gare Saint Lazare), 1932

















focal plane



Time-light-tool =  exposure



How do you get this to happen?


You need materials and tools: film and a camera that has a body, a shutter, a lens, a focal plane.


You need film - which is now a transparent plastic base that holds a light-sensitive emulsion which is silver-halide crystals ( a halogen is a light sensitive chemical - it changes its composition with exposed to light (from halos -the sun) such as bromine, chlorine, or iodine).  The halides "trap" light, the light acts as a glue that binds the crystals into clumps and during development converts them into visible black silver.


When the film is exposed there is an invisible change that creates a latent image. When the film is developed the areas struck by light are densities of black metallic silver.


Light areas reflect more light - make the film more dense, dark areas become thin.


Film that is exposed becomes a negative - obviously because light areas reflect more light onto the film making the clumping more dense, etc.


The object is to make negatives with a range of densities from dense to thin - or from highlights to shadows .. the thin areas or shadow areas should not be completely blank..there should be some proper exposure is the key to making a full range of black and white tones...


How do you make a "good" negative?


You have to manipulate three variables:


film speed - the "faster" the film the shorter the exposure, fast films have larger silver halide crystals - called "grain" slow films have smaller crystals

 ASA - American Standards Association

 ISO - International Standard Association

 DIN - Deutch International Number


lens opening - the larger it is the more light gets in - by controling "aperture"


shutter speed- faster it is the less light reaches the film




Different kinds of cameras - viewfinder, single lens reflex, rangefinder, twin lens reflex, view camera


Lens - for focus, quantity of light, image area, depth of field


Lens opening is measured in "f" stops (diameter of the lens divided into focal length of the lens (distance from the center of the lens to focal plane of the camera).


Small f number is a large aperture, large number is a small f stop. A "fast" lens has  small f stop number (1.4) so you can use it in very low light conditions..more expensive lens..every f stop is half the amount of light in one direction and twice as much in the other


Shutter speed - measured in fractions of a second - each setting doubles the time in one direction and halves it in the other -- plus B and T.  Leaf and focal plane types.


Image area - focal length of the lens - Normal, wide angle, telephoto, zoom - angle of view depending on the distance from the center of the lens to the focal plane.


Depth of field - zone of focus based on lens opening, focal distance, focal length of the lens - more later.


How do I know what combination of shutter speed and aperture to use?


What are you taking a picture of?

Is it moving? Is it in bright light? Is it dark?

What does the light meter say?

Set the ASA of the film


Reflected light - point it at the subject

Incident - point it back toward the camera


Meters read for average grey - half way between black and white - use the incident settings, etc.



Shoot 36 different pictures - try to take notes on shutter speed, f stop, etc. Use the light meters. Try to stop motion, try to make the subject sharp and the back ground out of focus, try to blur an image, try to compose from the edges in, try to aim and shoot "from the hip", decide to shoot and then get closer, try to tell a story, try shooting vertical and horizontal, try waiting for the picture, try extreme lighting situation, try a low light shot, try a time exposure, take your own picture, take a picture like your historical mentor.


Next class

Object is just to get a roll of film to develop...and have fun doing it.



Man Ray, Le Baiser (The Kiss)  1930

close-up faces two women (Lee Miller) lips eyes mouths negative


Notes September 23, 2003


Film Processing


If you are a “pea masher” you won’t get good negatives.

John Lindstrom


Film processing is a “wet” chemical process that involves successive steps of developer, a stop bath, fixer, and a wash.


The temperature of the chemicals in critical:

68 degrees is the best temperature for film processing.


Each stage of the process requires “agitating” the film in the solutions by rotating or inverting the film tank.


Developer reacts with the film to make the latent image visible.  It binds the together the exposed silver crystals and turns them into clumps of dark metallic silver.


The greater the film exposure the darker (denser) the silver.


The temperature of the developer determines the amount of time development takes. Charts are available for relating film type to temperatures to developing time.


Stop bath neutralizes the developer and stops development. It can be water or a mild solution of acetic acid. The temperature of the stop should be the same as the developer if possible. Plus or minus five degrees is ok.


Stop bath should take 15 seconds.


Fixer (sometimes called Hypo) stops unexposed silver from being exposed and darkened. Fixer removes the unexposed silver from the film and allows the film to be exposed to light. The temperature of the fixer should be the same as the developer if possible. Plus or minus five degrees is ok.


Fixing takes 5-10 minutes


Washing the film removes the fixer. The temperature of the wash should be the same as the developer if possible. Plus or minus five degrees is ok.


20-25 minutes without “fixer remover”.

With fix remover about 5 minutes.




Film can be hung up to dry or dried in a blower.

Hung film takes from 1-4 hours to dry depending on the humidity. Blow dried film can take just a few minutes.




Cut the negatives into strips at the light table and put them in sleeves. Only touch the edges of the film. A fingerprint on a 35mm negative is as big as oceanliner.






Negatives can turn out bad if :


- the film never went through the camera – loaded it wrong


- an inaccurate film exposure – wrong combo of f stop and shutter speed or forgot to set the ASA/ISO/DIN correctly


-       loaded the developing tank and/or reel badly


-  tank or reel wasn’t washed and dried properly


-       mixed the processing chemicals wrong or used them in the wrong order


-       wrong processing times or temperatures.


-       handled the film with chemicals on your hands


-       dust in the drying cabinet


-       negative blow dryer cooked them


-       didn’t handle the film on the edges only


-       negative sleeves were not clean



NOTES October 7, 2003


Matthew Brady

Clara Barton

1821 - 1912


The camera is the eye of history. Never make bad pictures.

Matthew Brady




Contact Prints are made by “negatives” coming in contact with printing paper and being exposed to light, being developed, fixed, washed and dried.


Photo paper is a light sensitive emulsion backed by paper or plastic (RC or resin coating).


Put strips of negatives under a sheet of glass and expose for 5 seconds at f8 for starters. These will give you an idea of what your prints will look like “positive”.


Objects can be laid on photo paper and  they and their shadows act as a “negative” – called photograms.


Enlarged negatives require an enlarger housing which consists of  a light source, a light condenser (light bulbs in enlargers have “hot spots” that require a condenser or diffuser to spread light evenly), a negative carrier, a bellows, and lens for focusing the image on the printing paper. The whole contraption is basically a negative projector.


The other equipment is the timer.


Enlarging lenses are matched to the size of the negative for a “normal” camera lens. A 35mm negative uses a 50mm lens for enlarging. They have stops like a camera lens and operate the same way – the amount of light doubles as the fstop numbers get smaller.


A grain focuser allows you to magnify the grain in the negative for complete control over the sharpness of the image.


Printing Paper is either graded or multi-grade. Multi grade papers require filters inserting under the condenser of the enlarger to change grades. Grades are associated with contrast.


Papers have a base type (paper or RC), weight (single or double) tone, surface, and contrast – graded or multi-grade).


Use test strips to determine the correct exposure and contrast. You can open the lens or adjust the timer and you can change filters based on what the test strip tells you. Try to make the test strip in the most difficult area of the negative.


For RC paper:

Developer takes 1 minute,

Stop bath takes 5 to 10 seconds.

Fixer takes 2 minutes

Water bath 2 minutes

Fix remover 2-4 minutes

Wash 5-15 minutes



Make a contact sheet

Make a photogram

Make a horizontal print

Make a vertical print

Make a square print

Make a circular print


Use test strips!!! Save materials and chemicals!