One unit that is covered in Media Arts is Black/White Photography.
This unit is done during a four - six week time period. Students are
supplied with cameras and 35 mm black and white film. Students
learn the basic photography composition rules, take 35 mm pictures,
and make negatives and enlargements.
Photo Composition – Framing, Simplicity, Rule of Thirds, Lines,
Texture and lighting are discussed and then students are required to
find examples of these rules in magazines, cut out examples and
compile a scrapbook. The one rule of composition that I think is the
most important is simplicity.
Simplicity. By taking getting close to your subject and keeping the
background of your image uncluttered the resulting picture is more
pleasing to the eye and the viewers attention remains on the point of
interest in the picture.
Rule of Thirds is when the main subject of a picture is not placed in
the center of the image. By thinking that the viewing frame has a tic
tack toe grid placed over it one can place the main subject in a
quadrant other then the center which makes the image more
Lines can be used as a pattern from any structure or item, which
repeats itself or creates a line image in the picture. Lines can also be
“leading” where a fence or path might “lead” ones eye into the
image. Again simplicity must be used to make lines effective.
Textures and lighting can be use with dramatic effects in an image.
Rough textures can be used to show contrasts in a picture or to
highlight certain elements in the image. Natural lighting can be used
to create dramatic results. Being aware of harsh light, high noon, and
soft light, early morning or evening, can be used to enhance an
Two sites, which discuss the composition rules in depth, are:
Negatives – Students load film onto reels and then go through the
basic chemicals to produce negatives. In our class we use PX 125
Kodak black and white film. During the developing process film is
exposed to Ilford Multigrade film developer for eight minutes, Kodak
stop bath for one minute and Illford Rapid fixer for eight minutes.
Film is rotated every minute when exposed to developer and fixer
and then rinsed with water for five minutes after draining the fixer.
How to load a spiral.
1 Make sure your spiral is completely dry. It is not possible to load
film onto a spiral that is even so much as damp.
2 In a changing bag or the dark room, with all lights off, trim the
leader off your film.
a) Open the film canister. Remove the top from the film canister and
take the film out.
3 Load film. Gently feed the film onto the spiral. If you are using a
Paterson type spiral with the ball bearings at the start you just have
to feed the film over the ball bearings until the sprocket holes catch
on the bearings.
4 Wind the film on. With the Paterson spiral this is fairly easy. Hold
the spiral in both hands and rotate alternate sides back and forth.
Don't push the film on, wind it on.
5 Take your time. Don't try to rush the film on. If both film and spiral
are dry and you took care when first loading the film in, making sure
both edges of the film are in the same groove on the spiral the film
should go on easily.
6 Trim of the end. When you reach the end cut the film tape that
holds the film to the bobbin.
7 Put the film in the tank. Slide the spiral over the center spindle, put
it back in the tank and put the lid on securely.
Some sites that demonstrate this procedure are:
Making your first print.
Make a test strip
1 Prepare the chemicals. Like film development, temperature should
be 20 C
2 Put your negative in the negative carrier. It should go in emulsion
side down, the matt side, to the back. Ensure the negative is clean.
3 Place a sheet of paper, either a sheet of printing paper or paper of a
similar thickness, in the printing frame to focus the image on.
4 Turn out the light.
5 Position the enlarger head to form an image roughly the size you
6 Open the enlarger lens to its largest aperture to provide a bright
image to focus.
7 Turn off the enlarger and, under safe lighting, place a fresh sheet or
strip of printing paper in the printing frame.
8 Close the enlarger lens down 3 stops, about f8, for best performance
and to compensate for any focusing errors.
9 Cover approx 4/5 of the paper with the black card and expose
paper for 5 seconds.
10 Uncover paper until approx 2/5 is exposed then expose for 5
seconds. Repeat until you have exposed all the paper. You now have
a sheet with five exposures on it. One of 25secs, 20 secs, 15 secs, 10
secs and 5 secs.
11 Slide paper face down into developer and rock tray gently for 10
seconds. Using tongs turn over the paper . Grip the edges. Continue
development for 1 to 2 minutes rocking tray intermittently. Check the
developer instructions for exact times.
12 A few seconds before the end of development lift out the paper
and allow excess developer to drain.
13 Slide paper into stop bath and rock for 30 seconds. Lift out and
14 Slide paper into fix rock intermittently for 1 minute then lift out
15 Wash in running water. Resin coated paper will wash under a
running tap in a few minutes. A brief wash will suffice for test prints
as they are thrown away later.
16 Look at your test print in good light. If all five exposures are to
dark you will have to repeat the above steps but with smaller lens
aperture/larger f number . If all the exposures are to light you will
have to repeat the above steps either giving a longer exposure each
time or using a larger lens aperture/smaller f number.
17 What you want to end up with is a series exposed strips that range
from too dark, to, too light.
18 Pick the exposure that you feel will give the best print. If none
match well you can choose an in-between value.
Make a print
1 Under safelighting place a fresh sheet of paper in the printing
frame. Expose for your chosen time.
2 Process the print by putting it into developer for about 45 seconds
or until print looks clear. Place print in stop bath for 30 seconds and
fixer for at least two minutes. The fourth and final tray contains
water, which the print can be exposed to for about three minutes
3 Your print should be clear and hung up to dry.
For accurate process times/temps etc. always consult manufacturers
1. Students are given their first roll of film and are required to take
pictures to their choosing, as long as it is not of people. This roll of
film is basically to learn the process of taking pictures and making
2. Second roll of film – students must take pictures, which show the
rules of composition.
3. For the last roll of film, students select a theme, buildings, animals,
bridges, etc., etc., make prints and hand in their six best pictures.
Grading is based on being on task, composition and quality of the