A place in the dark

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by josh|2, Oct 5, 2000.

  1. I live in an apartment that is way to small to have a darkroom in. So I found a college that would let me volunteer in the lab in exchange for darkroom time. Perfect right? Not exaclty, the darkroom is great with one fatal flaw all of the enlargers are hopelessly out of alignment so everything is hopelessly out of focus. Its going to be quite a job to get them into alignment since they are Saunders enlargers that were ripped off the base boards and mounted to crooked counter tops then sealed, union labor. This has me thinking of other options and I am wondering what other photogs do. Surely not every photographer has a home equiped with a darkroom. So What do you do for a darkroom?-J
  2. Josh, I live in a small studio (SF rents are the highest in the
    country and the only darkroom rental house in town just got evicted
    for the dot.commers), the first thing I got was a Harrison changing
    tent (should have got the biggest one) this works very well for
    loading and unloading all formats of film and I can also take it on
    the road. My Eenlarger is on a very solid heavy desk (used office
    furniture) on one side of the room, across the room is my "kitchen"
    and I place a plywood top over the entire counter area and this gives
    me a level worktop for my trays and access to some running water at
    the sink. The 3 level drying rack from calumet sits on the nearby
    kitchen table (folds up when not in use) and I darken the whole room
    with blackout cloth and usually print after the sun goes down. I use
    my film and print washers hooked up in the bathroom tub and store
    them there when not in use. Cramped? you bet..but it works. good
  3. My first darkroom was a portion of the basement with no windows. The
    door was light proofed with a large piece of Duvytene and the other
    "finished" room had to have the lights of so they wouldn't leek
    through the cheap panel job the owner had installed. I set the trays
    on a large piece of 3/4 ply on top of the washing machine and dryer.
    The enlarger sat on a homemade work bench - cast off top of an old
    kitchen table and legs made of 4 X 4's.


    My most recent darkroom is a 6' X 6' X 6' walk-in cedar closet in
    the basement with no running water. Electricity comes from a power
    strip, the cord run through a hole drilled in the door. The trays are
    on a shelf that used to hold clothes and the Beseler 4 X 5 sits on the
    floor. All washing and mixing of chemistry occurs in the two
    chambered deep sink that came with the house. I still have to use the
    Duvytene to block the light when developing film.
  4. New York has some pretty serious rents too. My current darkroom is a
    bathroom. Trays and washer are in the tub, enlarger on a board across
    the toilet seat, and I put some velcro over the long narrow window to
    hang my darkcloth, which has velcro along one edge. I develop film at
    night, but it is dark enough to do prints in the daytime. I've
    mounted a retractible clothesline over the tub to dry film and RC
  5. "You think that's hard, my darkroom is a desk drawer."
    "You have a desk? I have to do my printing in a coffe cup."
    "Oh yea? Well I just put a bag over my head."
    "You have a bag? I have to close my eyes to make it dark."
  6. Why not make an easel stand to use under the enlargers. A small stand
    that you can shim to align with the lens and enlarger heads? It would
    be a lot less trouble to do so. Even the older enlargers that seem
    hopeless can be aligned either this way or with a bit of quiet work
    with a file if the upper parts have been knocked way out of
  7. Rip the best enlarger off the counter top and remount to a baseboard.
    Should take you 2 hours with the right tools. The college will
    probably love you forever and you'll never have to worry about owning
    a darkroom, which can get expensive with lenses and all. Otherwise
    your kitchen becomes your darkroom and the local fast food place your
    kitchen. Spend a little time now to save lots of bucks later.
  8. I live in a tiny house with no basement. The
    kitchen is a good size for a darkroom, and it
    even has a window. So what I did was first,
    black out the window, I built a frame from
    1x3 pine, stapled "black out plastic" to it,
    and even put a Doran exhaust fan on the
    frame. I used black Duck tape to seal any
    leaks. The "black out" plastic is the same as
    the plastic used in landscaping, even extra
    heavy dark trash bags will work. Next, I
    bought what I thought was light tight
    material. Its not, but close to it. I purchased
    it at a fabric store. What I did was to put the
    material permanently on the wall. I
    actually needed to create a wall and a half
    with the material, so I stapled the material
    across the top of the open wall space with
    something, whatever, to "tie" the material
    when I roll it up. The ties are permanently
    in place at the top of the material. The next
    step was to purchase "Velcro". Its damn
    expensive in the store, so I found a web site
    that specialized and sells it cheap. I spent a
    long time sewing the Velcro down the sides
    of the material, and of course it was glued
    down the wall on either side, too. Since the
    material was not light tight I put hooks
    across the top of the wall and hang regular
    material across to cover length wise and
    width wise. I cut out a square in both pieces
    of material to put an 8'x8' air vent. So
    simple, all I have to do is put the frame in
    the window, untie the ties and let the
    material drop. I just don't like having to ad
    the " second wall of material", but I can
    allways put a second layer of material along
    with the permanent material.
  9. p.s. The cut out square thats 8"x8" for the
    vent has a square of Velcro sewn around it,
    and the vent itself is Velcroed, so I just join
    the two together.

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