Becoming a Photographer
The photography lab is a setting that determines the success of a photograph as much as taking the actual photo. The process by which a person develops his or her film and the resulting negative's appearance on the photographic paper is determined by the development of the negative itself and the length of time the image is burned into photographic paper.
Photography labs are everywhere from the local drugstore to professional service companies that specialize in making fine prints. These specialty businesses also sell frames, or frame the print for a customer, as well as altering the size by keeping the image in tact or by cropping out unwanted specifics within the shot. Film labs develop both color and black and white film and range in cost depending on the many factors of what a client might want. For those that develop their own film, specific chemicals are used when one takes a completed roll of film out of its small container to be developed and places it in the film developer tank. The chemicals are used to bring out the images on the film itself so it can be printed onto the photgraphic paper. These chemicals are, in order of use: developer, a chemical that brings out the image on the film; the stop bath, a chemical that stops the action of the developer; the fixer, a chemical that sets the image on the film; the clearing agent desolves any remaining light sensitive particles on the film; the wetting agent is a chemical that, when put in the rinse water of film, allows the film to be hung to air dry without spotting.
When the negative is successfully created it is placed in an enlarger and then can be seen as a projection onto photographic paper. Photographic paper is paper that has been coated with an "emulsion". Emulsions are chemicals used to thinly coat photographic paper to allow it to accept the image from a negative. Emulsions are made from silver in any combination with bromide, chloride or iodides.
When the image is printed, it is done so by exposure time, meaning a light is shined through the negative and projected on to the paper for a certain amount of time. The amount of time the light shines through the neagtive and onto the paper determines the darkenss of the print.
Photography labs, or darkrooms, must be completely dark and free from all light. If the smallest amount of light penetrates your darkroom atmosphere then your print will become fogged, or wiped out completely. All windows and door cracks but be covered.
Equipment for a photolab or darkroom is as follows. 3 pair of tongs to use in baths of prints, 3 tubs or trays for the washes for prints, 1 timer for keeping track of the amount of time a print is processed, 1 safe light (yellow or red lightbulb so one can see in the darkroom), filters for the enlarger to enhance otherwise flat/dull printws, and an enlarger. The enlarger is a device that has a head with a light in it. The negative is placed inside the enlarger and light shines through the negative for a set amount of time. The image from the negative is projected onto to the print paper, resulting in a print of the image.