History of Dark Room Film

What are Darkrooms? What is their Purpose? What is a Dark Room Film? What is the Equipment used in the Dark Room? Is it still in Use?
history of dark room film

What are darkrooms? Have you heard about the dark room film? This is actually related to making videos, movies, and also developing photographs. Darkrooms are specially designed for these uses. To know more about its history and its work, let’s dive into the article.

1. Meaning of Darkrooms

Darkrooms are places that have all the equipment for processing and developing photographs from the negative film strips. There are no windows in the room.

The room is designed in such a way that no light can enter from anywhere. The only lights in the room are the red or amber light (also known as safe light) and green or dark green light to enhance the printing of black & white, colored, and panchromatic printing papers. (Also read What Does 3D Mean?)

2. History of Dark Room Film

The darkroom films

Photography traces its origin to a natural phenomenon called camera obscura, in which it was observed that the image of an object could be projected onto an opposite surface via a pinhole. The earliest record of this principle is mentioned in ancient Chinese text dating from 2nd BCE to 4th BCE. The word camera obscura is Latin and translates to the darkroom. Italian painter and inventor Leonardo da Vinci mentioned the phenomenon in the 14th century AD.

In the 18th century, Louis Daguerre invented the daguerreotype process, which was a landmark in the history of photography and led to the establishment of darkrooms as you know them. The darkroom was first invented in 1839 and the photographic films have not been used. These films began to be used with the cameras from the beginning of the 1850s. (See First Full Length Movie Ever Made)

3. How does the Dark Room Film Work?

A person holding an old camera: history of dark room film 1

Darkrooms are used for processing photographic films taken from the camera to be developed into full photos as it has a complete absence of light and the photographic materials are light-sensitive. Darkroom techniques are not currently used in digital darkrooms. Darkrooms are not only for photographic use but also for scientific, like during magnetic particle inspection

  • Common equipment in the darkroom includes enlargers, a bath containing chemicals, and water.
  • Majorly, the photographic film exposed to light is immersed in a photographic developer which is then taken to a photographic fixer. The film is then finally washed to dry the chemicals. Other minute steps are also followed by the photographer depending on the need.
  • The strips are thin and transparent. On one side, they are coated with gelatin emulsions that contain microscopic crystals of silver halide that are light-sensitive. The sensitivity, resolution, and contrast of the film depend on the sizes and the characteristics of the crystals.
  • Initially, the film was quoted with a hazardous material called nitrate until the safe material cellulose acetate was used. Nitrate was used even after that as it was cheaper, a bit more transparent, and tougher than cellulose acetate films. (See How Does a Digital Camera Work?)

4. Use of Safe Lights

A photograph film or negative: history of dark room film 2

The red light or safe light is commonly used in darkrooms while developing photographs from the film roll or negative roll. TIf is saved and the final intended photograph is black and white, then only red and amber lights are used during exposure and not other color lights like blue or green. If the final intended photograph is colored, it is mandatory to keep the film away from the whole spectrum of light. Dimmed red or amber light is used in such cases. (See Morse Code Uses in Communication)

5. Current Use of Darkrooms

Darkrooms could be found in various sizes. With the advancement of technology and various camera innovations, the use of the darkroom was reduced to a large extent. This is mainly because the negative roll or photographic roll is not much needed in cameras of the present-day Thus the reduction in their production led to the decline of darkrooms. The darkroom has become a part of your digital devices, just like how photographic storage and retention have shifted to memory cards. The digital darkrooms function through applications and are referred to as digital printing rooms. (See 7 Metal in Microwave Mythbusters Facts)

The newly developed technologies are taking over very quickly. Darkrooms and dark room film touched the peak of success once upon a time but nowadays they are hard to find. (See Why Did Dean Martin And Jerry Lewis Break Up?)

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