Wet Contact Printing Paper Negatives

Easy Step by Step Instructions

This is a technique I have been using for many years. It is a very quick way to get a positive print from a paper negative, such as is very commonly used in home-made pinhole cameras.

Please note: The following process is done under safelight conditions.

1. Process the paper negative as normal (develop, stop, fix), through into the water bath.

2. Put a piece of unexposed photo paper in the water bath.

3. Make a sandwich with the negative face down on top of the emulsion side of the unexposed paper. Put both down flat on a piece of heavy glass or plexi, with the negative on top, face down.

4. Squeegee all the water out to make total contact between the two papers.

5. Suspend a lamp such as a clamp-on type with a low-wattage tungsten bulb about 18 to 24 inches over the paper sandwich. Turn it on and off rapidly. Experimentation will give you a feel for the best length of ilumination and distance of light source from the paper for any given negative. 1 or 2 seconds would be good to start with, depending on the density of the negative.

6. Then process your positive image through the same chemistry as the negative, and hang both positive print and negative up to dry.

7. Finished positive print and negative

The best paper to use for in-camera negatives is RC paper, as it lies flat and dries quickly. If the inside of the camera is curved, use mat finish paper to eliminate reflections which will cause streaks on the images. Also, be sure to get a paper that does not have manufacturer’s logos on the back. For the positive prints, you can use the same paper as for the negative, or experiment with other papers such as fiber base.


  1. Great Article Jan.
    A great technique for people who don’t have a darkroom but want to get their hands wet in using paper & chemistry instead of paper & ink.

  2. hi jan
    nice artical. i had been having trouble working out exposure times for paper negs.

    the light meter say’s 15 sec asa 6 @f9 or 11
    but i have done all sorts of different timing and about 30 negs later i just cant seem to get it
    maybe my paper aint no good, is resin coated stuff, so maybe to shiny.

    do you know any where to go to get info?


    many thanks

  3. I am in the process of building the 5×4 pinhole camera on this site and I am a bit confused….if I use photographic paper inside the camera will it come out a negative?

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