Technical Skills – Friday 19th October 2012

On Friday 19th October 2012, my course mates and I started the day by having a lecture on “What is Fine Art?” (see What is Fine Art post for lecture notes) which was then followed by three workshops: the darkroom, tank development, and the Nikon Scanner. I took notes of the processes and have placed them below.


  • Never turn the light on when the negative slide is out!


Test-Strip Practice #1



Test-Strip Practice #2



Joshua Hughes Final Print



Strangers Final Print



Fountain Final Print



Graveyard Final Print

Tank Development:

  • Reel
    • Comes in a canister
    • 35mm is already set
    • 120mm
      • Expand by twisting past the resistance
      • Pull out
      • Twist back into place
  • Film
    • Take out like normal
    • Feed through reel – goes over ball baring’s
    • Twist reel to make film go round reel
  • Take your time, don’t panic or force it!
  • Roll of 35mm – there is a bottle opener in the dark room
  • Inside tanks there is a black pole that goes through the middle, feed it inside, put funnel on, and twist until it clicks
  • Developer (stock solution)
    • 1 part chemicals: 3 parts water
  • Fixer (hyphen)
    • 1 part chemicals: 4 parts water
  • Tray
    • Hold at 45o angle
    • Pour developer in
    • 20 minute development time
    • Clunk on the sink – gets rid of air bubbles
    • Water tight = Every 20 seconds – agitate tank (turn over, turn back)
    • Non-water tight = Every 5 seconds – twiddle stick – put in, twirls film
    • 20 seconds before time, pour out development
    • Put under tap for 1 minute
    • Pour fixer in (same process as development) – 6 minutes and need to agitate constantly for first 30 seconds
    • Every 30 seconds, agitate
    • Pour away
    • If the Fixer is exhausted it will turn yellow
    • Wash the film in stop bath for 10 minutes
    • Dry in dryer room

Nikon Scanner:

Basic image capture from photo-negative/positive (slide) film using a Nikon Super Cool

Scan 9000, Nikon Scan software and Apple Mac compatible Photoshop CS software

  • Switch on Nikon Super Coolscan 9000 (the uppermost button on the right hand side at the front of the machine)
  • Open Nikon Scan software on your Mac
  • Insert film into holder and insert holder into scanner
  • Using Nikon Scan go to:
    • Tools
    • Show Nikon browser
    • Settings
    • Neg (colour)
    • 6 x 6 (cm) or 6 x 7 (cm) according to the format of your negative
    • Calibrated RGB
  • Note – always scan negatives in as colour regardless of whether they are colour or black and white thereby gathering the maximum image information; Black and white images can be rendered back into Grayscale later
  • To the right hand side of the settings palette is a vertical tab, this tab opens the preview window
  • Click the small square at the top left corner of this window – This will make a preview sized images of the inserted film
  • From this set of previews select the desired image (shift-click for multiple selections) for scanning
  • From the tool palette:
    • Layout Tools
    • Use the arrows to flip the images or rotate
    • Crop
    • Keep this output size – fill in the maximum desired output size of the final image
    • Resolution: Fill in 400 dpi (dots per inch)
    • Layout Tools
    • Select the selection button (a square within a square)
    • In the preview window
    • Drag the selection area to demarcate the area that you want scanned
    • Layout Tools
  • Choose the target symbol to activate the focusing marker
  • This will now have brought up a similar symbol on your image to be scanned
  • This is the point of focus for the scanner
  • This should be moved to any relevant point of focus on your original image
  • Although focusing on a flat plane means that it should all be in focus sometimes differences can be noticed perhaps when the negative isn’t perfectly flat in the carrier
    • Curves , > Colour Balance, >Unsharp Mask and LCH Editor should all be left unchecked as all of these adjustments can be made with greater control in Photoshop
    • Digital ICE4 Advanced is a built-in method of removing dust and scratches and should be checked. Note that this will not work with black and white silver halide negatives due to their textured surface and so in this case make sure it’s unchecked
    • Enable DEE, > Enable post processing, >Analogue Gain and >Image Enhancer shouldn’t be checked as again all of these can be done with greater control in Photoshop
    • Scanner Extras
    • Pixel Data Size – key in 16bit (twice as much image information compared to 8 bit)
    • Manual Focus should be ignored
    • Multi-sample scanning should be set to Normal.
    • CCD Mode should be set to Super Fine Scan
    • Strip Film Offset can and should be ignored if you’ve already used the preview palette as described
    • SCAN
  • Once the image has been scanned the software will give you an on-screen dialogue box that should read Untitled 1
    • File
    • Save as
  • Title the document and save it to the relevant location as a TIFF file
  • This file is now ready to import or open in Photoshop