Darkroom Photography Equipment: Canisters

If you're serious about shooting with a film camera, then you should invest in darkroom photography equipment. Among the most important pieces to own are canisters, which are lightproof containers with traps on the top for chemical solutions. Inside of the canister is where your exposed film gets processed into a negative print.

How Film Works

Film works by using a chemical reaction. One side of the film in your camera has emulsion that contains silver halide salts that are sensitive to light. The exact chemical composition of the emulsion determines how much light is needed to expose an image on it. This is what is meant by "film speed."

Once the film has been exposed with light, it must be processed through a chemical solution in order for the image to be visible. If the film is exposed to light again before it is processed, then the image will be irreversibly damaged.

Developing Film

After you have exposed the film in your camera, you will transfer the roll into a canister so that you can begin processing it. Use either a dark room or a lightproof tent in which to perform the transfer. It is extremely important that you do not expose the roll to any light. Once the film is securely in the canister, you will add the developer into the canister

The developer is a chemical solution that develops the film. Different film stocks require different developers with their own general set of directions. However, most developers need 8 to 10 minutes to work. During this process you will subject the canister to 30 seconds of movement followed by 30 seconds of rest in a cycle. Once the developer has done it's work, it is emptied out of the canister.

Stop Bath Solution

After the developer has been removed, you will add stop bath solution into the canister. Stop bath solution neutralizes the developer solution that is on the film and stops the development process. This phase takes anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds, depending on the developer. You want to subject the canister to movement during this phase so that the stop bath comes into contact with all of the film. After the stop bath solution has been in contact with the film for the required amount of time, the chemical is emptied.

Fixing Solution

Fixing solution is added into the canister so that the negative is protected from being developed to light it will contact after processing. This solution also causes the film to harden which also makes it scratch resistant. This process takes anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes. After that, the solution is emptied out of the canister.

Washing the Film

After the film has been chemically processed, you want to add, shake and remove water from the canister constantly for about 10 to 15 minutes so that all of the chemicals are washed off of the negative. After that has been completed, you will remove the negative from the canister and hang it up to dry.