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Toronto Camera Club Darkroom

Traditional photography and darkroom work is part of the long history of the Toronto Camera Club. Some of our Members continue this practice because they enjoy the challenge of using silver coated film and making silver gelatin prints. As the Club’s darkroom has had a sweeping modernization, we are now able to resume black and white processing as part of our regular activities.

As many Club members have not had the opportunity to try darkroom work, we provide a one-dayworkshop (approximately six hours in total, divided between instruction and practical darkroom work) so those who would like to try can learn to develop black and white film and make enlargements. These workshops are scheduled at various times throughout the Club year and there is a nominal charge to cover the cost of materials used in the Workshop.

If you require further details, email

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An Overview of the Darkroom Workshop

Morning (10:00AM-12:30PM)

Introduction to the Darkroom & Film Development (at the conference table)

○ Safety discussion, darkroom access and how the darkroom door lock works

○ The layout of the darkroom, equipment and where things are kept

○ The darkroom lights and safelights

○ The protocols: no eating and drinking in the darkroom, sign in, clean up etc.

○ Review of film developing chemicals used including what the Club provides and what you provide for yourself

○ The departure checklist for safety and cleanliness

○ Determining the development time for film/developer (Massive Development Sheet)

Developing the Film (in the darkroom)

○ The film tank explained

○ Removing the film from the canister and loading the film onto a film processing reel and placing in the developing tank (in the dark)

○ Measuring mixing and sequencing chemicals: developer, stop bath, fixer

○ Reviewing the film developing sequence

○ Developing and washing the film

○ Hanging the film to dry in our drying cabinet

Afternoon (1:00PM-4:00PM)

Making a Proof Sheet (in the darkroom)

○ Cutting the negatives using the light table and placing them into sleeves

○ The enlarger and proofer explained

○ Making a proof sheet

○ Measuring mixing and sequencing chemicals: developer, stop bath, fixer

○ Using the enlarger to make a contact print

Making Enlargements (in the Darkroom)

○ Multigrade photo paper, contrast filters and making enlargements fully explained

○ Measuring mixing and sequencing chemicals: developer, stop bath, fixer

○ Using the paper safe effectively in safelight conditions

○ Review of enlarger use in safelight conditions

○ Using the easel to make a test strip and selecting exposure

○ Using the easel and the grain focuser to make a test enlargement

○ Assessing exposure and the principles of dodging and burning

○ Repeat making enlargements to confirm understanding of the process

Frequently Asked Questions about the Darkroom

As members of the Toronto Camera Club, we are fortunate to have the ability to use a well-equipped photographic darkroom (DR). We have prepared this FAQ to answer questions prospective users may have.

Please click on a question below, to see the answer.

  • Q-01: Who Can Use the DR?

    The club’s darkroom can be used by TCC club members who have either taken our DR workshop or have received an orientation and been “checked out” regarding prior experience. If you don’t feel the need to take a workshop, we want to get an understanding about your prior DR knowledge and experience. The purpose of the orientation is to give you an understanding of how to use our facility in an unsupervised and safe manner.

  • Q-02: How is the DR managed?

    The club has one prime DR POR (person of responsibility) who works with several assistants that act as DR coordinators and instructors (call them our DR staff). These staff and all other club members at the camera club are volunteers. Once you are interested in using the DR, we will provide you with contact information.

  • Q-03: When are the DR workshops?

    Each year on a regular basis the club announces dates for upcoming scheduled workshops, if those dates don’t work for you, then contact our DR staff to see if a mutually agreeable time for another session can be scheduled.

  • Q-04: Are there fees associated with taking a DR Workshop?

    There is a one-time material usage fee of $35 associated with taking the two-day DR workshop. This reimburses the club for photo paper and chemicals used.

  • Q-05: What other DR supplies does the Club provide on a regular basis?

    Photographic paper is the costliest consumable. You will need to purchase your own paper once you continue to use the DR after having completed a workshop. For an annual material usage fee ($30), the club provides a set of standard black & White film and paper processing chemicals which should satisfy most of your chemical needs. 

    Some members choose to supply, at their own expense, specific DR chemicals which they prefer to use. To assure that “non-standard” chemicals are consistent with our safety guidelines we ask that you consult with us first. However, the annual material usage fee will still apply.

  • Q-06: Are there hourly charges or additional fees for using the DR once I have taken the workshop?

    Unlike many other DR facilities your TCC membership allows you to use our DR with no hourly fee. However as previously noted there is an annual material usage fee, of $30 which covers the cost of the chemicals that we provide. 

  • Q-07: What if I want to try DR work but no longer have a film camera?

    The club has available for members, at no cost, a variety of 35mm film cameras which you can borrow at your convenience.

  • Q-08: Can I use the DR at any time?

    The DR is available to be used during “club nights”, which are typically Monday and some Thursday nights. They're also scheduled weekend days when DR staff have arranged to be present. To use the DR, we request that you first schedule that session with our DR staff. This procedure avoids potential conflicts between multiple DR users.

  • Q-09: How long can my DR session be?

    DR sessions are typically two hours long. Specific times can be arranged when you book your DR session.

  • Q-10: Do I have to sign in and out of the DR?

    We keep a DR logbook to see who has been there. Please make an entry in that logbook noting what DR activity you were engaged in. This helps us to know when additional chemicals need to be purchased and who might be aware of equipment and facility problems. If you notice that we are running out of a particular chemical, please inform our DR staff. Similarly, if you observe a problem such as a burnt-out enlarger bulb, or problems like broken equipment or a water leak, please let us know.

  • Q-11: Is the Club’s DR equipped for both B&W and Colour?

    The DR is set up to primarily do black & white film developing and enlarging. However the
    club’s enlargers are also capable of enlarging colour negatives. Developing tanks and trays are available for processing colour film and colour prints. In the past some of our DR users have purchased their own colour chemicals and developed their colour film at the club.

  • Q-12: What if I run out of the premixed chemicals?

    Mixing up the chemicals is not hard, but if mistakes are made, you spoil the DR experience for yourself and the next person, not to mention waste money.  Therefore, it is best to have our DR staff mix up new batches. It should also be added that mixing DR chemicals from powders can be hazardous if not done carefully and correctly.

  • Q-13: What if I do want to use other photo chemicals for my DR work?

    Some chemicals are more hazardous than others (eg Pyro developer, lith developer, selenium toner are some of those). For the safety of our members the club prefers not to use hazardous chemicals. The use of these chemicals also creates additional waste disposal problems. If you are an experienced DR user and aware of the hazards and want to use those other chemicals, please contact the staff in advance to review the issue.

  • Q-14: How do I dispose of the used Chemicals?

    Developer is “one shot” and can be poured down the drain after use. The stop bath solution is also nontoxic and can be poured down the drain. Fixer has the capacity to be used more than once. We explain the protocols for using and testing fixer during our workshop and orientation sessions. The expired fixer must be disposed of in a “used fixer” container which is kept in the adjoining furnace room. The discarded fixer is then taken to the City of Toronto’ Hazardous disposal site.

  • Q-15: How do I enlarge and print the larger film formats?

    Our DR workshops are primarily focused on 35mm B&W film. Many film photographers also shoot medium format (ie 120) or large format (ie 4x5) film. These larger formats can only be printed using a few of the club’s enlargers, and require different negative carriers, enlarger lenses and for 4x5, developing tanks. If you plan to use those formats, please make prior arrangements.

  • Q-16: Are there House Keeping Routines?

    Hopefully when you approach the DR, it will be clean and neat with the tanks and trays in their proper place. Your orientation session will explain how we organize our equipment and how the items should be cleaned dried and stored after use. 
    A frequently made mistake is that DR users forget to remove their negative from the negative carrier in the enlarger, after they have finished their printing session. Please remember to check that you don’t forget yours. If you find someone else’s, check the logbook to see who was last there and let them know. Also please remember to pick up your prints once they are dry.
    No Food or Drink in the DR:
    For safety reasons we do not allow food or drink into the DR.
    We want you to have a positive darkroom experience:
    Developing good DR skills takes practice and often some additional coaching. Our goal is introducing more club members to the joys and satisfaction of DR work. If every you have questions or feel you could benefit from additional coaching don’t hesitate to ask.

Image Credit: Frank Eberdt, Darkroom Chair, Toronto Camera Club