Photographing darkroom prints


TPF Noob!
Mar 31, 2021
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I've been making darkroom prints and man, they just look light years better than any scan IMO. I want to take pictures of the darkroom prints to share online instead of scans. The light in my apartment is pretty lousy even though I'm using 75w Tungsten bulbs. No matter what, there will be an orange sort of tint on the print or there will be a shadow etc. It's unavoidable. What I've been doing is shooting it with my iPhone SE2 (the camera is pretty solid) and then in Lightroom Mobile I desaturate it 100% to remove the glow from the apartment light. I add a bit of sharpening as well. It works but I feel like it could be better.

Is it worth it to buy a pair of studio lights? Or should I get a copy stand that ensures the print is shot completely straight on? Something like this, but bigger?

Or something like this?

I'm not a lighting guy. I have no studio experience or anything like that. Just trying to figure out a simple solution here without spending a ton of money or having to buy a DSLR that would literally only be used for this and nothing else as I hate shooting digital.

I'm not really trying to scan prints either. I already spend a lot of time scanning negatives and the idea of even more scanning sounds terrible. That and I have a dedicated 35mm scanner and am unable to spend a ton of money on a v800...

You need 5000 degree kelvin LED bulbs, or 4500 kelvin. You can get them at the local big box home store.
It really depends if you want to capture the actual colour of the print or just copy it as is. All cheap LED’s have poor colour rendering index especially reds, it’s called CRI. To make it simple, the higher the number the better and anything lower than 90-95 is a poor choice for getting decent colour. There are lots of other factors within the CRI but that’s the short version.
To answer your question directly search for "copy stand photography" on Amazon and you'll see a few different options, but you want one with lights or at least lamp sockets. As others have said, you want somewhere around 5000 K lights.

I've got quite a bit of experience with film and have spent many, many too many hours in the darkroom and my experience is different than yours. Today, my film workflow is to process it myself then scan the film on an Epson V500 then use PS. I get much better and faster results than making prints in the darkroom. PP software allows you to get the same effects as using different print papers.

So help me understand what differences you are seeing between darkroom prints and digital?
I've been shooting film, processing, and scanning for about 7 years and even though I consider myself pretty well versed in Vuescan and Lightroom, nothing and I mean nothing ever looks nearly as good as my darkroom prints. Maybe it's all subjective but to me...

Anyway, I looked up some of those copy stands (especially with lights) and they're way out of my budget right now. I wish I had $400 to spend but I don't. I wish this one would fit 8x10 because I could make due but of course, it doesn't:

There's a size up that would work but the mount is for a DSLR so that's out of the question too.

So since I'm broke, I guess I'll buy this one and put my RC prints on a board cut to spec with masking tape?

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