public darkroom hell

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by panzershreck, Feb 15, 2006.

  1. panzershreck

    panzershreck TPF Noob!

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    never had any chemical/developing problems until now, while using the college darkroom (open only to people who have taken photography courses), i've run into so many problems with their chemicals... it's really frustrating when first the fixer dies on you several times in an hour, another time somebody said they checked it and i was too tired (early in the morning) to check it myself just in case, and 20 prints ended up turning purple... now i just spent another 20 prints wasted trying to get the developer/stop bath/fixer working properly (everything is burning out/turning yellow now matter how careful you are with temperatures) and they just changed out the chemicals!

    makes me want to just spend the extra money and start my darkroom back up :grumpy:
     
  2. shoedumas

    shoedumas Truly Canadian Eh?

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    I have never had those kind of problems in our Highschool darkroom, so I guess I'm very fortunate. I wish I had the money (and the space) to start up my own darkroom.:grumpy:
     
  3. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I worked for a few months in a "community-style" darkroom and that's what convinced me to bite the bullet and make my own. :lol:

    This was a pretty well-run one, too. :thumbup: There were enough people wandering in and out who routinely checked the chemistries and never hesitated to dump anything that needed it.

    But that didn't stop other students from doing things like dropping their fresh-from-the-fix prints into a wash that had been going for 20 minutes, or picking up the Gralab to "re-set it". :irked:

    Although everything I printed from there came out fine, sometimes it did involve re-washing or some other time-consuming waste. I just realized it's not the best of environments to share with a bunch of folks off the street. ;)
     
  4. panzershreck

    panzershreck TPF Noob!

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    i can't get around not using it though, as i'm shooting 6x6 and don't have an enlarger capable of that myself

    i guess i could just come in late at night when nobody else is there, and just bring my own chemicals

    what was frustrating is that i would do that, come in by myself, and prepare their chemicals, good temperatures, extra-thorough wash, extra precautions not normally needed (unless doing color), and still, stained prints :grumpy:

    what's crazy is that i've only recently gotten into darkroom work, with my own darkroom, and had very little idea what i was doing... never had a stain, even though i was not as cautionary or thorough or precise as i am now, i'd change out the water once every 4 minutes, instead of the current darkroom's constant water change flow... still, no stains :soapbox:
     
  5. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You hit it on the nose: BYOC.
     
  6. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    yeah...I'd be tempted to carry my own trays, too - something's not right about that. Contamination is deadly in the darkroom, as you're discovering!
     
  7. Unimaxium

    Unimaxium TPF Noob!

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    My highschool's darkroom is quite problematic. The first-year photo students just don't get it. I can't count how many times they have contaminated the developer with the fixer or the stop bath with the developer. Plenty of my second-year classmates have had negatives or prints come out blank because the first-years manage to get fixer or stop into the developer. Once, one student actually put turpentine substitute in their film processing tank instead of photo-flo. Yes, I'm serious, they thought the giant jug labeled 'turpentine substitute' was a photo chemical. Some of them just never learn.

    Luckily I can usually recognize when any of the chemicals look funky, and am able to mix new working solutions when something looks wasted or cross-contaminated. But apart from the teacher, I think I am the only one who actually understands how to dilute the chemicals (it's easy; you just read the label, but others don't seem to get it). Actually, even my teacher mixes the photo-flo with too high a concentration and most negatives get a little bit of spotting on them unless I dilute it a little extra.

    Of course, I have to give some credit for my knowledge to the great people here at TPF who have helped me learn about chemistry and such.;) Our teacher actually doesn't teach us a whole lot. But then again, there's also the simple bit of common sense that I use to make sure my photos come out well.
     
  8. panzershreck

    panzershreck TPF Noob!

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    yeah our teacher doesn't really teach us, as much as she expects us to read up on how to do it ourselves, and basically teach ourselves in the darkroom... which is really problematic for me, and maybe a few others, who already know what they're doing, but are stuck in the same bucket as the people who don't know

    and all it takes is one person to screw it up for everybody else
     
  9. theinvisiblecity

    theinvisiblecity TPF Noob!

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    I'm lucky enough to be able to use the local community college's darkroom - which is actually quite nice, and staffed well. Chems always are in order...everything is clean. However I find the biggest problem is with the wash....the college folks just don't/won't get it/don't care. I can't count how many times my print wash has been contaminated by a fresh fix soaked print. I'm not afraid to speak up and attempt to inform, but it usually ends up with students getting mad at me for being the darkroom ****. But whatever....don't be afraid to speak up (politely of course)...this is your work!

    Then build your own....which I will be doing very VERY soon.
     
  10. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    I have not been in any darkroom in years, when I decided to start shooting medium and large format again. I didn't have the space to set up a real darkroom either so I opted for a half a**ed operation.

    I have a changing bag opened over a couple of cardboard boxes. inside of it I can load and unload holder, tanks ect.

    I develop film large and small and paper up to 4x5 inside daylight tanks. Do the enlarging on a computer and upload them for someone else to print. Not the prefect way to do it, but I can rotate the tanks while watching I love lucy reruns.

    The point i am finally going to get to, is that I am forever cross contaminating things. Have chemicals go bad and not realizing it, so even though I'm the only one using the joke of a lab, it still happens. My worst contamination problem comes from not washing the beaker I use to tranfer chemicals to the bottles often enough. I just plain forget.
     
  11. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'm fortunate enough to have a workable darkroom at my local community college but the open lab times can be quite fustrating. The problems seem to come from the students who are not taking the class seriously. We all know that darkroom work can take quite a bit of time and many students are more concerned with moving on to the next class or getting outside to party or hang out with friends. They rush rush rush... which introduces mistakes and interrupts what I am trying to accomplish. Chemical contamination, opening the lamp house leaking light everywhere, not cleaning up, not washing the prints thoroughly before running them through the dryer... grrr..

    I've begun the process of moving my work into my own darkroom at home. Right now, I just do processing but in about 1 week I take delivery on a set of darkroom equipment from a coworker of mine. I can't Wait!
     

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