Using Darkroom Paper As Film

[Intro Music]
Hi everyone, Azriel Knight here, and today I’m running a bit of an experiment. I’ve often asked myself “what would happen if I put darkroom paper in the back of a camera, and took a photo”, and today I’m gonna try and answer that question. Let me show you how I’ve got it set up so far.

I’m gonna be using this Minolta SRT Super, and this Alien Bee. I’m gonna shove a strip of darkroom paper in there, throw it on bulb, and then fire off this Alien Bee here, then immediately dump it into the chemicals over here.

So here are a couple of different predictions I have as to what’s gonna happen. First, is the most obvious, and that’s the image is gonna come out as a negative. The second problem is gonna be making sure that the strip of paper is flat against the back of the camera on the inside so that the image is able to come in sharp. And then the third problem is going to be trying to figure out what a proper exposure is for this.
I think I’m gonna start out strong and work my way back. If I go on the highest setting and see a big black square, then I know I’m on the right track. If I fire it off at the strongest setting and I see nothing, then I might need even more light.
Okay, camera set to bulb at f/1.7, uhh I just need to focus it. Doesn’t really matter where, it’s just gonna be a picture of my darkroom.

Okay, the camera’s in place, the darkroom chemicals are ready, the darklights are on, the only thing left for me to do is to throw the regular lights off, cut a couple of strips, toss it in the back, and see if this crazy experiment has any point whatsoever.

I’m really… I’m really hoping this works cuz if it does I’d like to try this on some medium format cameras.


Okay, first test strip is developed, and the results are in. You’re not gonna believe this, check this out.

Let me see if I can get a better angle.

Yeah, that’s pretty crazy. You can clearly see it’s a negative of the darkroom. It might be a touch bright, but I almost got the exposure spot on, which is really funny cuz I just threw it on full and opened opened the aperture right to 1.7.

Yeah, I’m really surprised that it worked that well that quick. I’d planned on coming in here tonight for the long haul, but I think I’m going to upgrade to a bigger computer… computer?!

I think I’m gonna upgrade to a bigger camera now and see how that goes.

Okay, second camera I’m going to try this is a Kodak Number 2A Folding Camera. This takes 116 film, it’s basically 120 film but bigger, so it’s got a really nice big inside. The only thing is, it’s going to be a little difficult getting the film in, because I gotta stick it in the back here, then pop it on, then get it on a tripod. So, we’ll see how it goes.

Oh yeah the aperture on this is 7.9 not 1.7

First attempt with the second camera, definitely need more light. F/7.9 is a far cry from 1.7 , so I might not have enough light this time

that’s for sure. At first I thought I did it wrong, but it’s just really underexposed.

Gonna do it again now, and this time I’m gonna fire off the flash bulb four, five, maybe even six times to see what happens. I’ll start with four, and see where it goes from there.

Second attempt here looks much better. There’s definitely some detail in there.

Now that I’ve got it somewhat working, I think the next thing to do is try something a bit more creative than a photo of my darkroom wall.

Okay, not too complicated of a setup, I’ve got the Alien Bee hooked up to this lightmeter here, so I can fire it without being right behind it, and the idea is I’m gonna stand here with the camera on the tripod here and do a bit of a selfie, or as they used to call it, a “self-portrait”

I gotta say I’m pretty happy with the results of the first go at this.

Decent Exposure
I don’t know how sharp it is

I’m gonna say not too sharp.
This is from the window in the back where you would look at your shot number, it’s not covered up properly, so light seeped through. I’m gonna try it again, you can see in addition to the strobe, some of the surrounding light did get in. Maybe what I’ll do this time is just a timed exposure of 10 or 20 seconds, no flashbulb, staying as still as possible, and seeing what happens then.

Okay here’s attempt number 3 and 4. With attempt number 3 I just held really still for 20 seconds, and let the light of the room expose the image. You can see my face is almost completely dark. In attempt number 4, I moved the light more in front of me, and then I just fired it once. This one definitely looks a lot sharper, but I don’t think I’m gonna know for sure until I see it on a scan inverted.
Overall though, this is turning out way better than I thought.
I’m gonna let these dry for a bit, and then I’m gonna scan them onto my PC and see how they look.

Okay I got them dry, scanned in, and they look good. Here are the results.

[80s synth dance music]

So definitely sharper than I had expected, and you can tell that on the darkroom shot. Though these aren’t gonna end up in any gallery someday that’s for sure, but there has to be some sort of use for this. What immediately comes to mind is the idea of using it to test for light leaks. If you have any other ideas, let me know in the comments below.
I hope you enjoyed this video, if you did, please remember to like, share, and subscribe, and until next time, Stay Classic.

[Outro 80s tunes]


Transcript By Jason Ganz