Equipment For Color Printing

If you already have equipment for making black-and-white prints, you only need a few additional items, as follows:

Absolutely Necessary:

Color printing chemicals, usually supplied in kit form by the manufacturer

Color printing paper

Color printing filters, or a "color head" for your enlarger Processing drum Accurate thermometer

Useful But Not Necessary: Motorized agitator Darkroom timer Handheld hair blower Color-printing safelight Voltage regulator

NOTE: There are other color-printing aids — some simple and some sophisticated — that we will discuss at the end of this lesson. Everything you really need is listed above.

Items You Won't Need:

Because you will be using a processing drum to develop and fix your prints, you will not need trays for processing or tongs to move the print from tray to tray. If you decide to wash your prints in the processing drum, you will not even need a wash tray.

Let's examine the items you will need, one by one.

Most manufacturers supply their chemicals in kit form. Some kits provide chemicals in liquid form; others, in powdered form. Either way, you add the chemicals to water to obtain a working mixture — usually a quart or a gallon of each chemical bath. Since color chemistry is less stable and more expensive than black-and-white chemistry, be sure you purchase chemicals in a quantity that will enable you to use them up before they deteriorate. If you won't be working in your darkroom too often, you're clearly wiser to mix a quart at a time rather than a gallon. Either way, the developer is the first thing that is likely to deteriorate, so pay particular attention to the mixing and storage of the developer.

In this lesson we will cover in detail several of the currently available kits, but there are many others from which you can choose. When you are ready to make your own color prints, select the process that you want to use. Since all the products on the market are well made and can give good results if used properly, stick with your first choice until you master the steps required to get perfect prints using your chosen kit and its related paper. Whichever kit you choose, plan to spend time carefully reading the instructions that come with it. This lesson is designed to supplement and expand upon the basic instructions that the manufacturers supply.

Much of the freewheeling creative control you have when printing in black-and-white is simply not possible with color. For example, in black-and-white printing you may deliberately choose to extend the contrast range or tonality in your image, but in color printing your aim is usually more limited -you want to get a print from your slide or negative that reproduces colors faithfully. You have little room for interpretation or playing around because this will throw off the color fidelity. In other words, when you start to vary your procedure from the manufacturer s instructions, you are likely to end up with unsatisfactory results.

One important point to bear in mind when making color prints is that certain chemicals used in color processing can be highly toxic. Some people suffer skin irritation from direct contact with these chemicals, so it is a good idea to heed certain safety principles — using rubber gloves when handling chemicals and making certain that your darkroom has good ventilation are two of the most important.

The lesson on Color Film Processing includes a good deal of specific information about the precautions that should be exercised when using color chemicals. If you are not familiar with the contents of that lesson, review it now. Should a real emergency arise — your dog drinking a pint of blix. for example — Kodak maintains a 24-hour, seven-day control information number. (716) 722-5151.

If your darkroom is in the family kitchen or bathroom, you should be particularly careful about keeping the area free of chemical spills and stains while you work. While a good clean-up is always necessary if you have this type of darkroom, when you are printing with color materials you should be particularly careful. If your household includes young children or pets, take extra precautions to make certain that chemicals do not come in contact with utensils or surfaces that might later be exposed to their curiosity.

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