How To Make a Simple B&W Contact Printing Setup For Darkroom Printing
In this article today, I am going to show you how simple it is to make a black and white contact printing setup that you can use in a spare room, bathroom, or any small space that can be made temporarily dark.
Photography can be as simple and pure as you want it to be and that is one of the reasons why I love large format black and white photography so much. All I need is my camera, some sheet film, and a very basic light source to make elegant and beautiful prints. If Edward Weston could use his simple setup for his entire life, surely we can follow in his footsteps and enjoy making some contact prints too.
If you would like to be able to make some black and white silver gelatin contact prints, but you are thinking you don't have an enlarger or the space to do it, I am going to show you how simple and elegant it can be to make contact prints.
I use this same simple setup to make my proper proofs on RC paper to determine if I want to invest the time and effort of making an archival fiber print. I store the RC proper proof along with the negative in the archival binder.
I will list everything that I use to make this simple B&W Contact Printing Setup so you can duplicate or use it as inspiration.
Over the years I have heard from hundreds of photographers around the world that say they would love to be able to still make real silver gelatin prints, but they just don't have room for a darkroom anymore, so they scan their film and make inkjet prints. While there is nothing wrong with making any type of print, we all know that contact prints are very special and for good reason.
I am going to will walk you through how you can build a simple solution for making silver gelatin contact prints in this article, so you won't have any more excuses not to do it... :)
Even if you enjoy both digital and analog photography, that is even more reason to embrace a true analog workflow by making some stellar black and white contact prints.
Just like the famous Edward Weston 8x10 contact prints, you only really need a simple light source and a way to keep your negative flat and tightly sandwiched to your desired silver gelatin paper. Of course, you will probably want some type of safelight to help you see what you are doing while working and I personally recommend some Ilford Multigrade Variable Contrast Filters because modern darkroom paper is no longer graded like it was back in the days of Weston and Adams.
In this section, I will list the basic components that I used to make my personal DIY B&W Silver Gelatin Contact Printing setup and then share my thoughts about some of the important details.
You need some way to mount or place your light/filter source above your contact printing frame. I already own a Beseler Copy Stand so that is what I use. I have previously made a stand out of white artboard and also out of som one inch PVC pipe. I will show you those pictures below so you can see that you don't need an expensive copy stand or even an enlarger to make beautiful black and white contact prints. Refer to the images below of some more of my DIY contact printing solutions.
This DIY contact printing setup is made out of some white artboard that I got from the hobby store.
This DIY contact printing setup is made out of PVC pipe from Home Depot to mimic my more expensive and less transportable Beseler Copy Stand. I take this PVC copy stand on the road with me to make contact prints in my hotel room.
And some of the printmaking supplies include:
If you want to know my method for making black and white silver gelatin contact prints, I have several articles that I have written on this topic that I will list below for you.
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Keywords: analog photography, black and white, black and white photography, darkroom, film, ilford, kodak, large format, large format photography, photography, silver gelatin
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