In the darkroom with Stephen Dupont

In The Darkroom Series is a closer look at the craft in collaboration with some of my favourite photographers and artists. The series aims to demystify the fine art printing process and provide the technical detail of the body of work – Chris Reid

Stephen Dupont
Original Print. Please note these are test prints only.


This week I begin Stephen Dupont’s latest exhibition – White Sheet – showing at Stills Gallery at the end of the year. After the initial testing we have decided to run with my original ideas.

Paper Type: Foma 131 warm tone Gloss. 20/24” and 40/50” murals.
Chemistry: Ferric bleach bath, then fixed and washed.
Toner: Selenium at variable times – Dilution 1:15.

The steps:
#1 Dev + Stop + Fix + 1st Wash + Hypo Cleared + Final Wash
#2 Bleached + Washed + Re-Fix + 1st Wash + Hypo Cleared + Final Wash
#3 Selenium toned + 1st Wash + Hypo Cleared + Final Wash

The Foma 131 will receive a 5 minute development time. This gives me more room to play with the printing process as most of the negatives are being printed between Grade 4 to Grade 5. Not too much room to play!

Once the prints are dried after archival washing I will choose two from each image. These prints will then receive a short bleach bath. I use a fresh Potassium Ferricyanide and Potassium Bromide bleach at a very weak dilution. This is due to the paper being a Chloro-Bromide type, which is highly reactive to bleach baths. Once I am happy with the bleaching of the prints, they will be placed into a fixing bath to make them stable.

Stephen Dupont
Bleached and fixed print. Please note these are test prints only.

I decided not to use a Farmer Reducer bath as this is a permanent reduction step, irreversible if I over bleach the print, but by making separate bleach and fix baths I have a second chance (get out of jail free!). An over bleached print can be placed back into the developer and returned almost to it’s original density. The print can then be bleached again. The reason for the bleach bath is to create a greater dynamic tonal range.

Stephen Dupont
Selenium toned print. Please note these are test prints only.

After another archival wash sequence, the prints will be placed into a 1:15 Kodak Selenium toner. This will convert the print to a purple/magenta tone, again affecting the tonal range as well as the overall colour tone of the print. The reason for the toning is to help create a sense of unity between the images. There is a large selection of images from different locations around the globe as well as different subject matter. The Selenium toning will tie the prints together and make them easier on the eye as a whole, yet give each print its own unique identity.

Stephen Dupont
Comparison. Please note these are test prints only.

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