negative development technique: summary

Surprisingly many people lack the confidence to choose the right developer or to adapt their development technique to suit their own preferences. Instead, they go along with whatever their favourite guru of the moment recommends, and blame themselves if the pictures don't come out right.

But it isn't hard to establish and follow your own preferences. It begins by looking at the print: which prints of your own do you like most? What is important to you: grain, tonality, sharpness...? It is then a question of working backwards from your favourite prints to establish the best possible development technique for you.

Even if you lack the experience to make absolute judgements, or to make the finest possible prints, you can always tell a better print from a worse print, and this is the starting-point for this module: instilling the self-confidence needed to judge your own prints.


Illustration from 'Negative Development Technique'


Each person has different priorities and (which is equally important) different equipment, but the foundations of negative development technique, once you have chosen your film and developer, are always the same. They are dilution, temperature, time and agitation. This module looks at all four; at how to achieve maximum consistency in development technique; and at which ones to vary, and how, in order to get the best possible negatives. It runs to 17 pages (over 5000 words) with 20 pictures.

You may also care to look at the following free modules:

ISO Film Speeds

Density, the H&D Curve and Gamma

Why we do not use the Zone System

At the following paid modules:

Choosing films

Choosing developers

And at these books:

Black and White Handbook

Quality in Photography

Darkroom Basics


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last updated: 21/03/05

© 2005 Roger W. Hicks

Negative Development Technique Module