technical: Making a black and white print 2

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Processing your print

Processing trays that suit the size of paper you are using should be prepared in advance with developer, stop and fix and laid out in that order. Dilute according to manufacturer's instructions. Most paper developers can be used for one printing session only; when oxidised through use and contact with air, it will go brown and need replacing. Stop and fix can be kept and used several times. Dispose of used chemistry in a responsible manner; there are companies who will collect used chemistry for a small fee.

Tip: Be clean in the darkroom; wash trays and tanks after use, wipe up all spills and splashes immediately, and use tongs at all times. This will prevent dermatitis, keep your chemistry fresh for longer and ensure your negs and prints are spotless.


animation: paper being loaded into a tray

Place the photographic paper face up in the tray, and agitate gently by continuously rocking for one minute, or longer if you are using fibre based paper. The developer reduces silver halides to metallic silver, which creates a visible image that you can see appearing before you in the tray.

animation: a photograph developing in a tray during agitation


Using tongs, transfer print to stop and agitate for 10 seconds. Stop is an acetic acid solution and halts development immediately.


Using tongs, transfer print to stop and agitate intermittently for 3 minutes or longer if you are using fibre based paper. You can turn the lights on after this time to look at the print.


Transfer to a washing tray in the sink or specialist print washing rack. Use clean running water at 20 degrees C, a wash aid is useful but not essential. Thorough washing is vital as any fix left on the print will cause it to fade over time.

Wash times:
Resin coated paper - 5 minutes
Fibre based paper - up to 1 hour


Use a heated print dryer for resin coated paper, lay prints made on fibre based paper out to dry on a clean absorbent surface and be patient.