“Dark Room” Comparisons – Howard Seaman

Finding an interesting subject to photograph, framing the picture, choosing the camera settings to suit the available lighting, depth of field is only one part of the overall photographic process.

Developing the photograph in your virtual or physical dark room is also equally important and needs to take into consideration the final product of the finished image, either as a print or digital version.

I am intrigued to know how others approach this “dark room” process, what creative and technical choices are made and to understand whether the tools used make a difference. This led to the ideas behind the workshop held on the 2nd July comparing how different members develop the same images.

This particular workshop required some homework by members beforehand. 6 RAW image files were available for download in the 2 weeks prior to the workshop and members were encouraged to prepare them to a competition standard as if they were the member’s own images.

On the evening of the workshop we compared the results with each member talking about their approach, creative choices and challenges.

I’ve put together a gallery of the finished results with the original RAW image above and the members interpretations below. As you will see for each image the final composition varies widely.

What I learned from this exercise:

Aspect Ratio:

When I take a photograph I should also be thinking about the final product. Do I prefer printing photos or displaying them digitally? My camera takes photos using an aspect ratio of 3:2 which matches a standard 6×4, 12×8 printed photo, but a digital aspect ratio for Club competitions is 4:3 which means either the original photo is displayed at a smaller size or crop.  I also use a square aspect ratio 1:1 for some of my images or should I be really creative and use a panorama format or something in between.



Have I left room around the edge of the image to allow me to crop the photo if needed, or have I filled the frame too much. My camera even has guides for this which I don’t generally use, but perhaps I should.

Dark Room Tools:

It is important to learn how to use the “dark room” tools you use. Although the workshop didn’t focus on the toolset used it became clear that some effects such as adding a feeling of fog in the Boardwalk image could be obtained more easily in some tools than with others. Generally however similar results were achieved and which of software used does not really make a significant difference.


Simply there is no right or wrong way to present an image as we all have our personal preference as to what appeals, the mood and focus that we feel is important.

So be creative and explore your “Dark Room” tools.



Forest boardwalk