In a nutshell, the exposed paper (B&W or color) is placed, sequentially, in different chemical solutions, generally in this order:

  1. developer -- causes the exposed silver in the paper to turn black
  2. stop bath -- stops the action of the developer
  3. fixer -- removed all the unexposed silver in the paper
  4. rinse -- removes all traces of the fixer

Finally, the paper is dried before being mounted and framed.

Here are the materials you'll need to complete the steps. You have a lot of options in terms of equipment. Check out the DARKROOM for more details.

Here are the steps in more detail:

1. Mix the chemicals that you will need according to the manufacturers recommendations and put them into separate containers.

2. Get the temperature of the chemicals to their correct operating temperature for the paper you are using. For black and white papers, this is usually around 68 degrees. For color papers, this is usually around 100 degrees. Check the instructions that came with the paper and chemicals. The temperature can be increased or decreased in several ways. A refrigerator will cool things down quickly and a tub or hot water will increase temperatures easily. For lengthy processing, special water baths can be purchased or made to maintain the temperature of the chemicals during the entire process.

3. Fill the trays with the chemicals or fill a graduate with the first chemical if you are using a tube.

4. Remove the paper from the enlarger easel. Place it in the developer (face down) or load it in the tuibe and add the first chemical. The instructions for the tank will tell you how much solution to use.

5. Immediately set the timer for the correct developing time.

6. Begin the agitation sequence according to the tube manufacturer or rock the edge of the tray.

7. When development is complete, remove the paper from the tray and place it in the stop bath.  If using a tube drain the developer and add the stop bath.

8. Begin the agitation sequence.

9. When the stop step is complete, remove the paper from the tray and place it in the fixer.  If using a tube drain the stop bath and add the fixer.

10. Begin the agitation sequence.

11. When the fixer step is complete, remove the paper from the tray and place it in the water wash.  If using a tube drain the tube and begin the wash sequence..

12. With some papers the process of removing the fixer can be shortened by use a a special chemical called a "clearing agent". These come under various names, but they all do the same thing. Follow the instructions.

13. Dry the paper n a dust-free area with clips, blotter paper or a dryer.

14. Mount and frame the print, if you are satisfied with the results.

There are lots of books on the processing of paper. Most are full of opinions, passed off as fact. In short, don't believe anything you read, even if it's written by "the gods". Test it out for yourself -- chances are, you'll find out that the author's approach is worthless for your purposes. One book that attempts to tests the myths of photography is Controls in Black and White by Richard Henry.

If you have any ideas, suggestions or comments about these pages, please contact the Sub Club at the FRONT DESK.

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COPYRIGHT @ 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 by Joe McGloin. All Rights Reserved.