Today I had my first day in the darkroom since I did an introductory course a few years back, and it was good to be in the red light again! Yesterday we were given a film and told to go out into town and shoot until we had finished it. Then today we developed the film, mixing up the correct amount of developer and water, making sure it was at the correct temperature. We then made contact sheets (bottom image), and then Ross, the tutor, said if you know what you're doing, you can make a print.
So I did a test strip, which is where you cut a strip of photographic paper, and expose it to the image, but holding some card over the majority of the paper, leaving only 2cm's of paper exposed to the light. You then move the card along 2cm's every 5sec exposure, so you end up with a strip of paper going light to dark (after you've developed it of course!). From this, you can tell how many second you need to expose the real print for, 5, 10, 15, 20 seconds etc.
I printed the top image on Illford multigrade paper, which means you can print any contrast grade on to it, and it won't come out looking funny. A 'Grade' is basically how much contrast (the difference between black and white) the image has. The scale goes from 1 to 5, in half stops, for example; 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5 etc. The colour of light also changes, grade 1 is yellow, then orange, red and then 5 is magenta.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy!
P.S My hands STINK of chemicals! but I do quite like it :)