Why Are Darkrooms Red?

Why Are Darkrooms Red?

Are you curious about why darkrooms are red and what exactly this color does? For centuries, photographers have been using the mysterious darkroom to develop perfect images. And while many know why the room needs to be well-lit, few understand why there has to be a specific hue of red in the room. In this guide, we’ll take you inside the world of Why Are Darkrooms Red so you can learn about all of its secrets. From history to helpful tips, come explore why this color is such an important part of photographic development.

Are Darkrooms Still Used?

Yes, darkrooms are still used today by photographers and creatives who prefer analog photography techniques. Although digital cameras have drastically reduced the need for a darkroom, they are still a popular choice for many people who want to create unique prints using traditional film development methods.

Are Darkrooms Still Used?

Although modern darkroom techniques aren’t as common as they once were, certain processes such as toning and intensifying photographs still require a dark environment. In addition, art students studying photography often use darkrooms to become familiar with traditional photographic printing skills.

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of public darkrooms available. These spaces provide access to equipment and materials that can be used for developing prints of all sizes. This has made darkrooms more accessible and encouraged more people to explore analog photography techniques.

Overall, darkroom techniques are still a popular choice for photographers who want to create unique prints using traditional film development methods. Although it may not be as common as digital photography, the results that can be achieved through darkroom printing make it an attractive option for many creatives. [1]

Why Are Darkrooms Essential to Photography?

Darkrooms are essential to photography because they allow photographers to manipulate their images. By controlling the light and dark areas of an image, photographers can adjust the contrast, exposure, and color balance of the photo. They can also add special effects such as vignettes or burning and dodging techniques. All of these adjustments are achievable in a darkroom environment since it eliminates all outside light sources that may interfere with the desired results. Darkrooms are also used for developing film, printing photographs, processing negatives, and making enlargements and contact prints.

In addition to being essential for photographic manipulation, darkrooms provide a great space for experimentation where photographers can test out different techniques without worrying about ruining expensive equipment or wasting valuable time setting up the environment. By controlling the light levels, photographers can also ensure consistent results when printing multiple copies of a photograph or making contact prints.

Darkrooms are also essential for preserving valuable images on film negatives. In the darkroom, the negative can be properly developed and then stored in special envelope sleeves to protect them from light exposure and physical damage. This allows photographs taken with traditional film cameras to last for generations without fear of fading or discoloration due to improper development or storage techniques.

Ultimately, darkrooms are essential to photography because they allow photographers to manipulate and preserve their images in ways that would not be possible without them. When used correctly, darkrooms can help photographers produce amazing photos that will stand the test of time!

Why Are Darkrooms Essential to Photography?

Why Are Photography Darkrooms Red? Does It Impact Photos?

The use of red lighting in photography darkrooms has been around since the early days of film. So why are darkrooms red? Well, there are a few reasons and they all have to do with preserving the quality and integrity of the photos being developed or printed.

  • For starters, red light is less harsh than traditional white light, so it doesn’t damage delicate photographic emulsions that have been exposed to light-sensitive chemicals. This was especially important during the days of analog photography when photographers used chemicals like nitrocellulose and dyes for printing. Red lighting allowed these chemical reactions to take place without damaging them in any way.
  • Another factor that makes red lighting beneficial for photo development is its low color temperature. White light has a higher color temperature and can produce color shifts in your photos that can ruin the overall look of your image. Red lighting helps to eliminate these shifts, ensuring that your prints will come out looking as sharp and vibrant as you intended them to be.
  • Finally, red lights are much easier on the eyes than traditional white lights, which is incredibly helpful when you’re working with photographs for long periods of time. The softer hue makes it easier to spot any mistakes or inconsistencies without straining your eyes too much.

What Type of Photography Uses a Darkroom?

Darkrooms are commonly used for black-and-white photography, but they can also be used for developing other types of photographic materials such as color film and negatives. The darkroom must have no light so that the developer or printer can work with the film.

In the black-and-white darkroom, photographers use a combination of different chemicals to develop prints from negatives. These chemicals include an acid stop bath, developer, fixing agent and wetting agent. All these components help to create prints from negatives. Color darkrooms also require specialized equipment such as color filters and enlargers to achieve desired results.

Also known as analog photography, traditional darkroom techniques involve photographic paper exposed to light in an effort to make a perfect print. Photographers can use a variety of techniques to manipulate photographs including dodging, burning and toning. They also may use masks or filters on the enlarger to further control the image’s appearance before printing.

Photographers who work in traditional darkrooms must be familiar with all aspects of photographic developing such as exposure, contrast, sharpness and cropping. They must also understand chemistry and have knowledge of light-sensitive plastics such as polyester film bases and emulsions. Without this knowledge, it is difficult for photographers to get good results from their darkroom prints. Darkroom skills are not always necessary for digital photography, but they can still be helpful if you want to make creative prints or experiment with traditional techniques.

What Type of Photography Uses a Darkroom?

Can I Use A Red Light To Develop Film?

No, it is not recommended to use red light when developing a film. Although the darkroom is traditionally lit with a red light for convenience, color accuracy can be impacted if you use a red bulb as your main light source. The best option would be to install LED lighting that was specifically designed for darkroom use. These lights provide a more even and accurate illumination without the need for filtered bulbs like ‘safelights’ which are made specifically for black and white photography. LED lights also last much longer than traditional incandescent or halogen bulbs, making them an all-around better choice. Additionally, when using any safelight you should always test your materials before exposing them to ensure that they do not react adversely to the light. [2]

No matter what lighting you choose, it is important to ensure that the darkroom is as free from outside light sources as possible. Even a small amount of ambient light can affect the development process and create unexpected results. To maximize safety, be sure to keep your darkroom door closed when not in use and block any windows with heavy curtains or blankets that are designed to prevent light leaks. With these simple steps you will be able to ensure that each film processing session yields consistent results no matter the type of SAFElite lamp used for illumination. Good luck!

What is Orthochromatic Film and How is It Used?

Darkrooms are used to develop photographs taken on orthochromatic film. This type of black and white film is sensitive only to green and blue light, making it the perfect choice for creating photo prints in a darkroom environment. By using orthochromatic film, photographers can avoid their prints being overexposed when working in a red-lit darkroom. In addition, the lack of color makes it easy for the user to adjust contrast levels, balance exposure times, and create more accurate exposures in general. Orthochromatic film also provides a superior tonal range compared to other types of black and white films due to its sensitivity to different shades or gray values. Since this type of film does not react well to red light wavelengths, darkrooms that are red-lit will help ensure the film is not overexposed.

When exposed to light, the orthochromatic film gives off a faint fog. This helps photographers create uniform exposure during development and prevents them from losing detail in the highlights or shadows of their prints. As such, utilizing a darkroom with red-tinted lighting helps the photographer take advantage of this unique characteristic for more controlled developing. Utilizing an orthochromatic film in combination with a red-lit darkroom can also help reduce the amount of dust particles that might land on the film during processing. Since dust particles appear much brighter when exposed to bright lights (such as white light), using a dimly lit darkroom helps to keep dust particles from compromising the overall quality of the photograph.

What is Orthochromatic Film and How is It Used?

Overall, darkrooms are red-lit for a variety of reasons, but one of the most important is to ensure that an orthochromatic film is not overexposed while being developed. By utilizing such a light source, photographers can also benefit from more consistent tones and reduced dust contamination during processing. With all these benefits in mind, it’s easy to see why darkrooms are red-lit and why they provide such a useful service for photographers!

Do You Need a Red Light to Develop Film?

No, you don’t need a red light to develop film. While it might be easier to work in darker conditions, the color of your light source does not affect the development process. Red lights are mainly used for viewing prints and other photos without affecting their colors or tones. That said, some photographers prefer to use a dimmed white light instead of a red one in darkrooms because it is easier on the eyes. If you decide to use white light, just make sure that it is very dim so as not to cause exposure issues with your film or prints. [3]

Is Color Film Red Light-Sensitive?

The short answer is no, color film isn’t sensitive to red light. Color film can be exposed to red light without having its colors affected. This makes it an ideal choice for darkroom photography since the photographer won’t need to worry about their shots being adversely affected by the dimly lit environment.

However, this doesn’t mean that a photographer should use any type of reddish lighting in their darkroom. It’s important to keep in mind that certain shades and intensities of red light can still affect the photos taken with color film. For example, if there is too much orange-tinted or yellow-tinted ambient lighting in the darkroom, then this could cause a shift in the colors of the pictures taken.

Therefore, it’s important to keep in mind that if you plan on using a darkroom for color photography, then you should avoid any kind of reddish lighting and instead use a light source with a neutral (white) color temperature. This way you can be sure that your photos will come out looking as vibrant and colorful as possible!

Finally, it’s also worth noting that some photographers prefer to use black-and-white film when they are developing their photos in the darkroom. The reason is that black-and-white film isn’t usually affected by red light at all, so this gives them more freedom when setting up their shots. However, if you’re hoping to save money then color film is usually a better choice since it’s much cheaper.

Is There Any Color Used in the Darkroom Other Than Red?

Darkrooms are usually dark, and red is the only color that will not affect the photographs being developed. However, other colors can be used in the darkroom if they are necessary for certain tasks. For example, some photographers use blue light to check for dust on negatives; green might be used to differentiate between different types of emulsion on prints; yellow can help with spotting blemishes on prints; and orange can let you identify problems with contrast. In all cases, any colored light should be kept at a minimum intensity so as not to stain the photographs or cause other issues. It’s also important to remember that any intense light (even if it isn’t white) will still fog out your film due to its sensitivity!

Is There Any Color Used in the Darkroom Other Than Red?


Amber light bulbs are the preferred choice for darkrooms as they provide an even, consistent red color that is not too bright. These types of bulbs also produce a low amount of ultraviolet radiation, which can be damaging to film over time. When purchasing amber lightbulbs, make sure to get the right type. Look for bulbs labeled “darkroom safe” or “safe for use in photographic darkrooms” and keep them at least ~6ft away from your prints and negatives.


Sometimes, light-amber or peach-colored bulbs are used in the darkroom for certain tasks. This type of bulb produces less red and more of the other colors in the visible spectrum, which can be helpful when doing color correction or checking for dust on negatives. However, it’s important to remember that these types of bulbs produce brighter light than amber ones and may cause the same issues as regular white light – fogging out the film due to its sensitivity.


Another light that is used in some darkrooms is a greenish-yellow hue. This type of light can help with spotting blemishes on prints and making sure everything looks as it should before putting the final touches on a photo. It’s important to note, however, that these lights can also cause fogging if they are too close or too bright.

Green and Dark Green

Green and dark green lightbulbs are not typically used in a darkroom since they can be too harsh or cause color shifts when viewing negatives. However, some photographers have found them useful for certain tasks such as film processing or specialized printing jobs.

No matter what type of bulb you’re using, it’s important to remember that the typical red light from an amber bulb is the safest option for developing photographs in a darkroom. Different colored lights may be necessary for specific tasks, but should always be kept at a minimum intensity so as not to damage your prints or films.

What Color Safelight Do I Need?

When considering what color safelight to use, there are two main factors to consider: the type of paper or film you’re using and the exposure time. A longer exposure time requires a darker red safelight, so if you’re working with a slow-speed film or paper, you might need an even darker light than usual. It’s important to consult the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular brand of paper or film to get exact guidelines on appropriate safelights.

In general, amber lights work best for black and white photography papers and films; blue-green lights are good for color materials; and deep red lights are used for extremely long exposures. The further away from your enlarger the light is and the lower its wattage, the less likely it is to fog your paper. A safelight filter should be placed over an ordinary light bulb or fluorescent tube; never use a bare bulb in a darkroom!

What Color Safelight Do I Need?

Remember to always keep your eyes protected when using red safelight. Wearing protective glasses that are designed to block out ultraviolet (UV) rays will help keep your eyes safe even when working with long exposures under a deep-red safelight.

And for optimal safety, turn off any other bright lights in the room before turning on the safelight and avoid looking directly at it. With these precautions in mind, you can feel secure while exploring all kinds of creative possibilities in your darkroom!

What Is Safelight Fog?

Safelight fog is the result of dust, dirt and other particles in the air becoming illuminated by the safelight bulbs. This can create a dim, reddish-orange light in the darkroom. While this isn’t ideal for creating prints, it is very important to keep your darkroom clean so that you don’t end up with too much fog obscuring your photographs or making them look grainy or distorted. Make sure to regularly clean your darkroom surfaces and avoid bringing food into the space as these can attract more dirt and dust. It may also be useful to have an air filtration system set up to help reduce safelight fogging.

Creating A Print in Darkroom Using A Safelight

When creating a print in the darkroom, it is essential to use a safelight. This is because exposure to light can cause your photosensitive paper and chemicals to react differently than expected, potentially ruining your work. Safelights are generally red or amber and emit low levels of long-wavelength light that won’t affect the film or prints you’re working with. The color red was chosen for darkrooms in particular due to its ability to penetrate through the fog created by photographic developing chemicals without leaving any residual light, allowing photographers to create their images accurately and easily.

Red safelights also allow photographers to see clearly in faint lighting conditions while still providing enough visibility and comfort. Red itself has the lowest visible wavelength on the spectrum, making it an excellent choice for a darkroom. Additionally, compared to other colors, red is the least effective at altering photographic materials or exposing light-sensitive products. This guarantees that any work taking place in the darkroom won’t be affected by any residual light from the safelight, allowing you to get accurate results with your prints.

Overall, red safelights are an essential part of creating a print in the darkroom and should always be used when working with photosensitive materials. Red’s low visible wavelength provides just enough illumination without affecting your prints or chemicals while also allowing you to comfortably see what you’re doing in dim lighting conditions. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to confidently use a red safelight when creating your prints in the darkroom.

What Color Safelight Do I Need?

How Much Do Darkrooms Cost?

Darkrooms can be a bit of an investment initially, depending on the size and complexity you plan to build. However, once you have the equipment in place, there are relatively low ongoing costs associated with running a darkroom – often just electricity and film. Depending on what type of film you use, supplies may also include photo paper, developing chemicals, and other materials.

For the true darkroom enthusiast — or those who wish to print their own photographs professionally — there is no way around paying for the necessary items such as trays, tongs, timers, thermometers, safelights (for red light), enlargers (which cost anywhere from several hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars), and so on. That said, there are many ways to save money when setting up a darkroom and purchasing various pieces of equipment. Craigslist, yard sales, photography forums, and online auction sites can all be great resources for finding quality used equipment at reasonable prices.

If you’re just getting started in darkroom photography or don’t have the space to build your own darkroom from scratch, you may want to consider purchasing a smaller pre-made kit that contains all of the basic supplies needed to get started with photographic printing — usually for less than $200. This option is ideal for those just starting out who don’t yet know exactly what type of darkroom they’ll need in order to complete their projects.

Average, the cost of the equipment is around $840. However, the cost can range between $360 to $1,500, depending on whether you purchase new or used equipment. Let’s keep in mind; these costs don’t include the chemicals and paper needed to develop your prints, but those should be relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of the darkroom itself. [4]

In short, if you are committed to darkroom photography and want to set up a space that can accommodate many types of projects, expect to pay at least several hundred dollars for the necessary equipment — with some higher-end items costing significantly more. With patience and an eye out for deals, however, it is possible to find all of the basic supplies at reasonable prices.

How Much Do Darkrooms Cost?

Money Saving Tips

When developing photos in the darkroom, it pays to be cost-conscious. Here are a few tips for keeping your budget in check:

  • Buy bulk supplies like photo paper and chemicals in advance if you think you can use them before they expire.
  • Use a timer to time exposures instead of counting seconds. This will help you save film and money by ensuring that each exposure is made accurately.
  • Reuse discarded material from other photographers or studios when possible. Ask around for donations from other photographers who may be looking to get rid of old equipment or materials.
  • Take advantage of programs offered by manufacturers that offer discounts on their products (such as chemical kits).
  • Look for sales and specials at your local camera shop.
  • Consider the cost of buying or renting a darkroom before you commit to setting up one.

By following these tips, you can save money while still getting the most out of your darkroom experience!

What is Not Allowed in the Darkroom?

In the darkroom, there are specific safety rules and regulations that must be followed to ensure maximum safety for yourself and your prints.

Firstly, absolutely no form of smoking is allowed in a darkroom as the fumes created by the cigarettes could damage any prints being developed. Secondly, chemical contact with eyes or skin should always be avoided at all costs and appropriate protective eyewear should be worn when working with hazardous materials. Thirdly, open flames such as matches and lighters are never allowed in a darkroom due to the fire hazard they create. Finally, non-photographic equipment such as radios or cameras should not be brought into a darkroom so as to avoid any external light sources from entering the room and damaging prints.

What is Not Allowed in the Darkroom?


What is the red light in a darkroom called?

The red light in a darkroom is called an “safelight,” because it provides just enough illumination for the photographer to work without damaging their photographs. The typical safelight uses either a red or yellow filter. A red safelight works best for photographic paper, while a yellow one is suitable for film. Safelights should be positioned so that they are not directly visible when you enter the darkroom and require shielding to prevent stray light from entering the room. [5]

Why is red light used in photographic dark rooms because of frequency?

Red light is generally used in darkrooms for photography because it’s at the lower end of the visible light spectrum, meaning it has a longer wavelength and lower frequency than other colors. This means that red light doesn’t cause as much damage to photosensitive materials like film or paper prints. Red also helps preserve night vision – when you’re working in a darkroom, looking at an image through a magnifying glass or loupe, your vision will adjust to the darkness more easily if there is just a small amount of red light present. Additionally, since you can see better with red light in comparison to other wavelengths on the spectrum, you don’t have to worry about disturbing any photographic material that may be exposed during processing. So overall, using red light in the darkroom helps maintain better quality images, while also reducing the amount of damage that can be caused by other wavelengths. [6]

In addition to its use in preserving photographic materials and helping with night vision, some photographers like to use a range of different colors when printing – this is because certain colors can bring out specific details or highlight certain features of an image. For example, if you’re printing a black and white photo, you may find that adding a blue hue will help make certain elements stand out; likewise for color prints, yellow may be used to soften up shadows or emphasize highlights. Different combination of colors can be tried until the desired effect is achieved. Ultimately, the choice of which color(s) to use is up to the photographer’s preference.

To sum up, red light is used in darkroom photography due to its frequency and wavelength, which makes it less damaging to photographic material than other colors. It also helps preserve night vision and allows photographers to experiment with different color combinations when printing. Ultimately though, it comes down to personal preference as to which color(s) are best for your particular needs.

Why do people put pictures in a red room?

The answer to why people put pictures in a red room or ‘darkroom’ is because of the unique qualities of red light. Red light has properties that make it ideal for photography, especially when developing and printing photographs.

Red light helps to keep photographic paper from being exposed to too much ambient light which could cause an undesirable result. It also allows photographers to easily see what they are doing without having their vision affected by bright white lights which can be distracting. Additionally, red light helps to produce vibrant colors on photos when they are printed, giving them a beautiful finished product.

Darkrooms with red walls also help create an atmosphere conducive to creative thought and expression without distraction or unwanted noise from outside sources entering the room. The red walls also help to create a cozy atmosphere, and can even be calming for the photographer as they work.

In short, red light helps photographers achieve the best results when developing and printing photographs, making it an ideal choice for darkrooms. With its unique properties, it’s no wonder why so many photographers opt for darkrooms with red walls!

Why is red used in safelight?

A red safelight is used in darkrooms because it provides the right amount of illumination without affecting black and white photographic materials. This is due to the fact that most types of black-and-white films are not sensitive to long wavelength light, such as red. Using a red safelight allows you to easily observe your work without interfering with the chemical development process. As an added bonus, the use of a red safelight also helps keep your eyes adjusted to low light levels, which can be beneficial when working inside a darkroom.

In addition to its practical benefits, using a red safelight also creates an atmosphere conducive to creative experimentation. The soft glow of the reddish light has been described by some photographers as romantic and calming, allowing them to be more expressive and creative when working in the darkroom.

All in all, red safelights are an essential tool for any darkroom photographer. They provide just enough light to observe and work with materials without impacting the photographic process, while also creating a unique environment that fosters creativity. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced photographer, having a red safelight is definitely worth considering if you work in a darkroom.

Useful Video: Darkroom In Use


In conclusion, darkroom photography requires a red-light environment to allow photographers to see and work in the dark. Red light has been found to be the least disruptive of all colors when working in a pitch black environment. As light from any other color can cause bright spots or ghosting on photos being developed, it’s essential that only red lights are used in darkrooms. With the help of this guide, you now have a better understanding of why so many professional photographers choose to use red lights in their darkrooms!

While working with traditional film can be intimidating for first-time photographers, taking the time to learn about why red lights must be used in a darkroom setting can help make sure your prints turn out perfect every time! With the right equipment, knowledge, and practice, you can create beautiful photos with darkroom photography. Happy shooting!


  1. https://thephotographyprofessor.com/why-are-darkrooms-red/
  2. https://photo.stackexchange.com/questions/125958/can-i-use-a-red-light-bulb-to-load-film-in-a-development-tank
  3. https://thephotographytoolkit.com/developing-your-own-black-and-white-film-is-actually-easy/
  4. https://thephotographyprofessor.com/how-much-does-it-cost-to-build-a-darkroom-what-to-consider/
  5. https://www.toppr.com/ask/question/in-a-dark-room-of-photography-generally-red-light-is-used-the-reason-is/
  6. https://brainly.ph/question/10126906#:~:text=Answer%3A,pictures%20during%20the%20developing%20process.