Week 5: Light

Basic Black and White Photography with Matthew Swarts

Jessica Eaton.

Matthew Pillsbury.

Jessica Eaton.

Stephen Tourlentes, Federal Supermax Prison, Florence, Colorado, 2005.

Jessica Eaton.

Hiroshi Sugimoto.

For Next Week

Read:  “Sunday Night,” by Raymond Carver.

Download and review the slides from this week’s lecture: arts1810 slides week 3 light

For Next Week: at least 1 roll of developed film

For The Week After Next:  4-6 prints from the roll (above)

Photograph light. Expose at least one roll of film in which every image has light as subject. Continue to explore the basic optical principles of your camera; use shutter speed and aperture as tools for shaping the luminosity that most interests you.  Note: this is a two part assignment: you have to make at least one roll of film over the weekend, and will then make 4-8 prints from these negatives for the following week’s group critique.

Things to consider:

1)     We like to think that we are working with “black” and “white” materials—an idea which suggests a simple, binary relationship between things.  But really your film “sees” the world as a highly sensitive continuum of grays.  Can you begin to become hypersensitive to luminosity more than any other element of what you experience?

2)     Light has interesting physical properties: how can you explore them in your images? Is it possible to photograph “pure” light? Also consider how light is said to be both particle and wave, words that suggest physical substance.  Is this idea contrary to what we seem to experience?  How can you image this?

3)     The light you see is in constant flux. How things look in any given light is dependent on from where you are seeing.  You should move your body as you make pictures!  Consider the light from as many different points of view as is possible, and notice how many things are changing (the form itself, your exposure, etc.) as you shift your position. Again: the choices you make in this regard are elements that imbue your images with meaning.  When you find something you really care about, be conscious of the range of alternatives available to you.

Developing Film

  1. IN TOTAL DARKNESS, load film onto completely clean, completely dry tank reels and place in tank.  Carefully cover with tank top and small, light-tight access cap. (Note: you can watch this video to recall the proper steps for loading your film onto the developing reels and securing it in the tank!)
  2. The remainder of film processing can now take place under common room lighting.
  3. Mix developer, stop bath, fixer, fixer remover, and wetting agent according to temperature and mixing directions on packaging and chart below. USE CAUTION WHEN HANDLING CHEMICALS AND ALWAYS ADD CONCENTRATE TO WATER, NOT VICE VERSA
  4. Lay out chemicals in beakers or containers according to the order in which they will be used
  5. Follow directions on packaging and chart below for times and proper agitation. Remember when timing steps to take into consideration filling and emptying the tank. Start timer before pouring chemicals into tank (tilt tank when filling);  drain with 10-15 seconds left on timer.
  6. Drying usually takes 3 or more hours.  Do not touch film when drying.
  7. Cut film into strips with scissors, counting proper number of frames to fit into your negative sleeves.











1:9 @ 68º F

*See chart on packaging (attached for Sprint Film Developer) for type of film you are using

First 30″, then 5″ each 30″

Single Use

 Stop Bath

1:9 @ 68º F

30 seconds


60 rolls (35mm)


2:8 @ 68 F

3 minutes

First 30″, then 5″ each 30″

30 rolls (35mm)


@ 68º F

30 seconds

Two water changes

 Fixer Remover

1:9 @ 68º F

3 minutes

First 30″, then 5″ each 30″

60 rolls (35mm)


@ 68º F

5 minute minimum

Water changes ea. 30″

 Wetting Agent


1 minute


60 rolls (35mm)


Varies with temp/humidity

Please consult the full Sprint Film Developing Chart for accurate and detailed reference times.

* For Tri-X Rated at ASA 200, take 20% off the time recommended for ASA of 400 (@ 68º F using Sprint Film Developer, developing time would be 8 min)

 Artist Spotlight: James Turrell