I'm gonna build a darkroom

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by ahelg, Feb 6, 2005.

  1. ahelg

    ahelg TPF Noob!

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    Well I've now decided to build a darkroom. I've already got a room I can use which is at a good size. At the moment it's filled with junk but my winter holiday is in two weeks and so I'm going to be clearing it out then.

    I would like some advice on what to buy. At first I'll only be buying the stuff to develope the negatives as I don't currently have the money for an enlarger etc, but I am applying for some after school jobs so I can buy one later.
     
  2. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    If you are going to build yourself a proper darkroom then you need to do it... properly.
    First you have to make the room light tight. You will need to put seals all around the door - those brush type draught excluders work well.
    Then you need to black out the windows - if there are any. You can go for expensive blackout blinds but just as effective - and cheaper - is to paint the inside of the glass with several coats of black emulsion. It scrapes off easily if you no longer need it.
    Altenatively you could put a sheet of ply over the window.
    Then you need ventilation. Air must be able to get in and out of the room. An extractor is best (but it must all be light tight).
    The inside of the darkroom should be painted white - except around the enlarger, which should be matt black.
    Remember to have the wet and dry processes in seperate areas. A bench on one wall with a water trough on the other is best. If you can't afford a darkroom sink then some big trays to stop spillage will work.
    Now you can start to think about all the equipment you will need.
    (It might all sound like a lot of work and expense but if you do it all yourself and shop around a bit then it shouldn't actually cost much. And it is worth doing in the long run).
     
  3. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Congrats on deciding to have a home darkroom!! It's so great to be able to develop your film and make your own prints. :)

    If you're only going to develop film for the time being, you don't need a complete darkroom for that, so you should be able to take your time in setting it up for later, when you do want to purchase the enlarger. All you need for the film developing is a tank, film reels, thermometer, and appropriate film developing chemicals with graduates to measure them in. You can load your film from the camera onto the reels sitting on your living room couch if you want to, using a changing bag. The rest of the developing can be done at the kitchen sink.

    Meanwhile, study lots of darkroom plans. Figure out where you'd put everything and how you'll move about in your room. Make sure there are outlets where you'll hang your safelights, for instance. ;) Sounds like you've given yourself a lot of time to figure it out, and that's terrific since as Hertz pointed out, you want to do it the right way. I use black plastic trash bags taped over my windows in an upstairs bedroom, and it works just fine. I've not heard of needing black around the enlarger, but if you follow that advice, no reason to paint a wall black when you could hang a black dropcloth behind it. There are lots of ways to do things that aren't too labor-intensive and still save some money! Look at everything and figure out what suits you best.

    You ought to have a blast, it's fun to plan it out and watch it come together! You'll probably get lots more advice on this as you go, too. Good luck! :)
     
  4. aghastpumpkin

    aghastpumpkin TPF Noob!

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    One rule of thumb I have seen everywhere, keep one side for your dry and one side for your wet. I.E, keep your chemicals, trays and water on one side, and your enlargers, paper and other bits and bobs on the other.
    You need black around an enlarger because enlargers contain bulbs that of course emit white light. And you do not want that light leaking out and spreading into other parts of the room, so the black is there so any light that escapes does not reflect.
     
  5. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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  6. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Correct. If the walls of the enlarger bay are white or light coloured you can get light from various parts of the enlarger (including light from the lens bouncing off the photopaper) reflecting off the walls to give strange fog patterns on a print. Painting the bay black reduces the risk of this considerably. Prevention is always better than cure.
    You certainly need to make sure you have decent ventilation in the room. Basic Health & Safety. You wouldn't believe the ventilation systems you have to put into a pro darkroom.
    For processing film though, you can do it with just a pair of nun's knickers. Once the film is in the tank you can do the processing in the bathroom or kitchen.
    The bath is quite good for washing prints as well.
    A couple of sites here to get you started:
    http://www.darkroomsource.net/build.shtml
    http://www3.telus.net/drkrm/construc.htm
     
  7. ahelg

    ahelg TPF Noob!

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    The only thing you mentioned which I don't already have is a sink, but I've got one in the room next door so that's not a problem.
     
  8. oriecat

    oriecat work in progress

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    Good luck! You'll love it. :)
     
  9. aggiezach

    aggiezach Yup...

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    Thats awesome yo! Congrats on the decision! Watch out though, you'll get addicted so fast!

    Zach :D
     
  10. df3photo

    df3photo TPF Noob!

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    one place to check for equipment is schools, highschools and colleges as many of them are cutting down there darkrooms to make room for digital... unfortunate as that may be, it may bennifit you. I got one of my enlargers from my highschool on a visit back to the old art room. The other one i have i got from the college i went to, they did what i said above and i lucked out and got one thats in good shape. They where actually auctioning them off to faculty at the time, but many of them where not into photography so they didnt pick them up, or they where selling them to interested students...
    but its worth a try! And alot of schools keep some backups that they may be willing to part with. By the way, both of mine are Besslers and there old but I worked at the school and learned how to fix them and can fix them in the dark...litereally and had to many times as not to interupt the people using the darkrooms...
    they may also have other old darkroom equipment to get rid of...check it out.
     
  11. ahelg

    ahelg TPF Noob!

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    Sadly schools in Norway don't have darkrooms and the only collage I know of which does photography does most of its lessons in the darkroom. I'll just have to buy one from the store.
     
  12. df3photo

    df3photo TPF Noob!

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    sorry about that. maybe if theres some older photographers (mom and pop shops) that are getting up there in age, maybe they dont use the dark room anymore and maybe willing to get rid of some stuff. I ran in to that here once... but thats in the US...
    goodluck.
     

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