jackcollings

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Hi guys,

I'm hoping you can all help me out with a few questions I have about starting my own darkroom. I've read up on all the basics in regards to chemicals, equipment etc. and just need a few things cleared up.

I've attached a layout I'm thinking will most likely resemble the one I will make and would love some opinions!

image.jpg


The darkroom will be built underneath a house so it will be dark already. I thought the black out curtains on the other side of the door should suffice as it won't ever be in direct sunlight and it will just stop the light under the door.

Everything else is pretty clear but on the dry side I have left the whole bench free. I've left out the enlarger on this as I was unsure of where this best place to be. I was hoping to get some advice on where I should put this :)

The last question I have is I have read on a few articles that mounting the photo post-development is a common thing. Is this only for display or what is its purpose?

Thank you for taking the time to read this and look forward to your advice!

Jack
 

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This is a good start, and I'm gratified to see someone sketch out the room layout before construction.

The enlarger should be on the "dry" side, and the paper storage should be there as well. Go ahead and draw a representation of the enlarger, and try to make everything as close to scale as you can. You can buy an architectural scale with different scales on it to make the "figuring" easier. Make sure most of the important stuff is included, and pretty close to scale, such as the door and curtain.

If you have electricity in that space already, draw in convenience outlets and light fixtures and switches. You should install an exhaust fan, not just a circulatory fan. You can have a circ. fan also, and you will probably want one, but it can sit on the floor.

Adjacent to the sink, you will want a drainboard on which to place your trays and other items after washing up. If this is going to be used for color, you might want to make the sink large enough to hold your tank in some kind of water bath for temperature control. One that my friend had was actually a homemade sink that he constructed from plywood and fiberglassed for water-proofing.

You can draw shelves on the wall by showing dashed lines drawn right over the counters and sink. Those shelves will be useful for storing the things you haven't thought of as yet.

One common planning point is to consider where your plumbing is already. If there is a drain on that wall where you want to put the sink, then economics would steer you to make that the wet wall. Once you have determined that, arrange the "work flow" to be as convenient as possible. You might even experiment with several different versions of your room plan so you can visualize how each one "flows". So you might consider moving the drying wires to another wall for instance. Whatever seems to work for your convenience.
 

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As for the dry side, you'll get used to whatever arrangement you use, so it really doesn't matter that much. Personally, I'd want the enlarger on the end closer to the developer because that's where the exposed paper goes first.

Agree with Designer about the drainboard, and suggest it be removable, so if you develop film you will have a flat surface next to the sink.

One note on blacking out the door - depending on the light level on the other side the curtain may not be enough - bright lighting might seep through in spots. If you're able to keep that room fairly dark that would be better.
 
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jackcollings

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This is a good start, and I'm gratified to see someone sketch out the room layout before construction.

The enlarger should be on the "dry" side, and the paper storage should be there as well. Go ahead and draw a representation of the enlarger, and try to make everything as close to scale as you can. You can buy an architectural scale with different scales on it to make the "figuring" easier. Make sure most of the important stuff is included, and pretty close to scale, such as the door and curtain.

If you have electricity in that space already, draw in convenience outlets and light fixtures and switches. You should install an exhaust fan, not just a circulatory fan. You can have a circ. fan also, and you will probably want one, but it can sit on the floor.

Adjacent to the sink, you will want a drainboard on which to place your trays and other items after washing up. If this is going to be used for color, you might want to make the sink large enough to hold your tank in some kind of water bath for temperature control. One that my friend had was actually a homemade sink that he constructed from plywood and fiberglassed for water-proofing.

You can draw shelves on the wall by showing dashed lines drawn right over the counters and sink. Those shelves will be useful for storing the things you haven't thought of as yet.

One common planning point is to consider where your plumbing is already. If there is a drain on that wall where you want to put the sink, then economics would steer you to make that the wet wall. Once you have determined that, arrange the "work flow" to be as convenient as possible. You might even experiment with several different versions of your room plan so you can visualize how each one "flows". So you might consider moving the drying wires to another wall for instance. Whatever seems to work for your convenience.


Thank you Designer for your pointers! They have given me a few ideas about what to do for space saving as well as ways to make it more versatile for colour developing down the track. I think I will move the enlarger closest to the door and as KenC stated it will be easier to move to the developer as that is the next step. The poor drawing of a fan was meant to be an exhaust fan but without the duct on the sketch as it would of been too messy!

I will definitely be moving to developing colour down the track so I will try and fashion a ply wood sink or maybe find a cheap one to use with the water bath. I'm not sure on the wastage pipes of the property yet as we are yet to move into the house but just have seen plans and photos of the house.

Your comments were very helpful thank you again!
 
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jackcollings

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As for the dry side, you'll get used to whatever arrangement you use, so it really doesn't matter that much. Personally, I'd want the enlarger on the end closer to the developer because that's where the exposed paper goes first.

Agree with Designer about the drainboard, and suggest it be removable, so if you develop film you will have a flat surface next to the sink.

One note on blacking out the door - depending on the light level on the other side the curtain may not be enough - bright lighting might seep through in spots. If you're able to keep that room fairly dark that would be better.


Hey KenC thanks for the reply, I think I will move the enlarger to the bench closest to the door so it will be an easy way to drop the photo straight into the developer and not having to move too much.

That is a good call about making it removable I might even make some sort of hanging one over the sink to preserve bench space and that way it will drain into the sink.

Yeah that was what I was worried about so I might even add a temporary wall in front and create a separate door on the inside as well to really stop the light but I'm hoping that I can get away with the curtain.

After the prints have dried will they be fine to be stored as they are or should they be pressed on to a piece of card? And what is the cutter/guillotine used for in the darkroom?

Thank KenC
 

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Try self-stick black foam on the door jamb. An 8 x 10 sheet cut into 1/8" strips will provide more that enough to seal the door. A dark colored towel, rolled, will block the bottom of the door.

A paper cutter is handy for cutting photo paper into test strips. I use one that has an enclosed cutter similar to: Fellowes Neutrino 90 Personal Trimmer - Walmart.com , much safer for cutting in reduced light, or if using color paper, total darkness. Also used to make 4 x 5 or 5 x 7 sheets from 8 x 10.

My dry bench is sized to hold four 16 x 20 trays on top, with a 16 x 20 'holding' container on the lower shelf. I use 11 x 14 trays, but have room for larger. Print washing is done in the kitchen or bathroom. I may add plumbing as the room shares a wall with a bathroom, should be easy to tie into the existing plumbing.

I used to store prints in the empty paper boxes.

Phil
 

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I've used a darkroom at a local university so haven't (yet) gotten to setting up a darkroom.

But as far as drying, mounting, etc. - I got a Kodak black rubber squeegee that I use to squeegee off excess water after rinsing prints, then let them air dry on the drying racks (print/photo side up). Or I've sometimes used those blotting books to bring them home then lay them out flat on a table to finish air drying.

At home I've been doing lumen prints (sun prints using expired vintage paper) and those I squeegee face down onto ferrotype plates - they pop off when dry and it makes them extra glossy. Otherwise I've used an upside down extra developing tray as a surface to squeegee on.

I know how to dry mount, you could do that if you had access to a press. Yes, that's used to frame/exhibit prints. You use mounting tissue to hold the photo to the mat board (backing). They make tacking irons but I don't know if that alone would work if you don't have access to a press, maybe for a small print? (I'd think it could leave marks) - those are used to tack the photo and tissue to the mat board to keep it in place when it goes in the press.

The trimmer I've used to cut paper; I'd cut 5x7s out of an 8x10 then use the 1" strip that's leftover as test strips. Or occasionally might need to cut a piece down to whatever size test strips I need. You might find paper safes to store unused paper in.

Usually I use an acid free storage box for prints, and some I have in a portfolio, some I've matted and framed. I've used hinging tape to attach a photo to a mat for framing.

If you look up Lumiere Photo in Rochester NY they did have an instructional video and sell supplies/kits (they do work for the Eastman House). Archival products for storage of artwork / custom picture framing .
Or try Home | Freestyle Photographic Supplies for supplies and tutorials.
 

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When I printed on fiber paper I found that the prints needed to be pressed under some weight after drying to get them flat. The only other way I've seen to get them really flat is a drum dryer, which I've used in school darkrooms, but never known anyone to have at home. After a while I switched to RC papers. A professional photographer I had as a teacher said that in his opinion the RC papers were just as good and I never regretted switching to them as far as image quality, and certainly never regretted having much shorter drying times and effortlessly flat prints.
 
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jackcollings

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Try self-stick black foam on the door jamb. An 8 x 10 sheet cut into 1/8" strips will provide more that enough to seal the door. A dark colored towel, rolled, will block the bottom of the door.

A paper cutter is handy for cutting photo paper into test strips. I use one that has an enclosed cutter similar to: Fellowes Neutrino 90 Personal Trimmer - Walmart.com , much safer for cutting in reduced light, or if using color paper, total darkness. Also used to make 4 x 5 or 5 x 7 sheets from 8 x 10.

My dry bench is sized to hold four 16 x 20 trays on top, with a 16 x 20 'holding' container on the lower shelf. I use 11 x 14 trays, but have room for larger. Print washing is done in the kitchen or bathroom. I may add plumbing as the room shares a wall with a bathroom, should be easy to tie into the existing plumbing.

I used to store prints in the empty paper boxes.




Phil

Yeah I'll try and work out something even if I get a bit of stiff styrofoam to mold to the shape of the door jamb!

So the photo cutter is probably one of the first things you would use in the developing the negatives? Would you develop the negatives then cut them and before you develop that negative onto photo paper you would cut the photo paper to the size of photo you are after?

What do you use the big trays for on the dry side?

Thanks for the help Phil!


jackcollings
 
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I've used a darkroom at a local university so haven't (yet) gotten to setting up a darkroom.

But as far as drying, mounting, etc. - I got a Kodak black rubber squeegee that I use to squeegee off excess water after rinsing prints, then let them air dry on the drying racks (print/photo side up). Or I've sometimes used those blotting books to bring them home then lay them out flat on a table to finish air drying.

At home I've been doing lumen prints (sun prints using expired vintage paper) and those I squeegee face down onto ferrotype plates - they pop off when dry and it makes them extra glossy. Otherwise I've used an upside down extra developing tray as a surface to squeegee on.

I know how to dry mount, you could do that if you had access to a press. Yes, that's used to frame/exhibit prints. You use mounting tissue to hold the photo to the mat board (backing). They make tacking irons but I don't know if that alone would work if you don't have access to a press, maybe for a small print? (I'd think it could leave marks) - those are used to tack the photo and tissue to the mat board to keep it in place when it goes in the press.

The trimmer I've used to cut paper; I'd cut 5x7s out of an 8x10 then use the 1" strip that's leftover as test strips. Or occasionally might need to cut a piece down to whatever size test strips I need. You might find paper safes to store unused paper in.

Usually I use an acid free storage box for prints, and some I have in a portfolio, some I've matted and framed. I've used hinging tape to attach a photo to a mat for framing.

If you look up Lumiere Photo in Rochester NY they did have an instructional video and sell supplies/kits (they do work for the Eastman House). Archival products for storage of artwork / custom picture framing .
Or try Home | Freestyle Photographic Supplies for supplies and tutorials.

So you opt for drying rack rather then pegging them onto a line? Do you find the result of laying flat to dry better then on a line?

Okay so it would be uncommon for someone doing developing as a hobby to own a press? I just thought that it might of had to be on a board otherwise the photo might start to be damaged but I'll definitely store mine in an acid free box :)

That's a good idea to get a paper safe and also about cutting the paper strips for testing!

Thanks for the link I'll have to give it a watch when I get to framing my own!

jackcollings
 
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When I printed on fiber paper I found that the prints needed to be pressed under some weight after drying to get them flat. The only other way I've seen to get them really flat is a drum dryer, which I've used in school darkrooms, but never known anyone to have at home. After a while I switched to RC papers. A professional photographer I had as a teacher said that in his opinion the RC papers were just as good and I never regretted switching to them as far as image quality, and certainly never regretted having much shorter drying times and effortlessly flat prints.

Well it seems like a no brainer to use the RC paper! Do you still have to press the RC prints after they have dried?

thanks a lot KenC,

jackcollings
 

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That's what I used, RC paper, never tried fiber. The way I learned was to squeegee the prints and put 'em on a rack to dry, but there's not necessarily a right or wrong. The trays in the rack reminded me of the screens used in screen printing so I got one to dry prints at home (since I don't need a whole drying rack at home), lets air circulate to dry.

A press, even used is pricey, and big. Look on B&H.

I meant the trimmer being used to cut paper. With 8x10 cut into two 5x7s (if I wanted some smaller prints and needed just a couple of test strips) or if I needed more I'd cut a piece of 8x10 into strips.

By those I mean doing a strip to determine exposure time for a print from a negative. This - http://www.ilfordphoto.com/applications/page.asp?n=41 except I learned to do 5-10-15-20 (25) sec. Would be easier to show than explain, try searching or Ilford's site.

I do a strip with 4-5 exposures on it (each a section of the strip maybe about an inch and a half of the strip). You cover the strip except for about an inch or so with a piece of cardboard (or I use an empty cardboard package that the paper came in), do a 5 sec. exposure, then slide the cardboard to leave enough space exposed and do another 5 sec., then another... Then once I know for example at f8 a 10-15 sec. exposure looks good, I'd do an entire strip at a guesstimate of say, 12 or 13 sec. Then go from there, too light, go to 14, too dark, go to 11 sec., etc.

I think for negs people usually use scissors and cut to the width of the paper (8") or negative sleeves, but either could probably work. Be careful and make sure you're in good light to see what you're doing. I usually got the film developed when I was using a shared darkroom since time was limited and I wanted to look at them on a small lightbox at home so I haven't done that in a long time.

And a grain scope... took being shown how to use it. After you focus your projected image thru the enlarger onto the easel, before you get out paper, use the scope to make sure it's in focus.


You know, if you could take a class/workshop... or maybe find some videos, just look at enough of them to get to be sure you're learning proper procedures.

Not sure what tray on the dry side would be... edit - probably to schlep prints? to the rinse or out into the light depending on how you're set up.
 
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I have almost always put the enlarger where I can reach over to the developer tray with the paper in my right hand. This has always worked in my personal darkrooms as nobody is using the enlarger again until I have that print fixed. My last setup had the enlarger where your drying area is and then in your dry area I had the trays and I had the paper in what was my dry area to my left. Always used storage that was below and above the work areas.

Where you have the cupboard I would put the rack to dry the RC paper, across from the door. So I have my paper and enlarger as far from the door as possible. But that will depend some on the plumbing and possibly the electrical as that can fix some items to a certain area.

I have a drum dryer that was part of a used set of darkroom equipment given to me, half of it was corroded but could still dry an 11x17 print, and that was just about the only size I ever did with non-RC paper.
 
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That's what I used, RC paper, never tried fiber. The way I learned was to squeegee the prints and put 'em on a rack to dry, but there's not necessarily a right or wrong. The trays in the rack reminded me of the screens used in screen printing so I got one to dry prints at home (since I don't need a whole drying rack at home), lets air circulate to dry.

A press, even used is pricey, and big. Look on B&H.

I meant the trimmer being used to cut paper. With 8x10 cut into two 5x7s (if I wanted some smaller prints and needed just a couple of test strips) or if I needed more I'd cut a piece of 8x10 into strips.

By those I mean doing a strip to determine exposure time for a print from a negative. This - http://www.ilfordphoto.com/applications/page.asp?n=41 except I learned to do 5-10-15-20 (25) sec. Would be easier to show than explain, try searching or Ilford's site.

I do a strip with 4-5 exposures on it (each a section of the strip maybe about an inch and a half of the strip). You cover the strip except for about an inch or so with a piece of cardboard (or I use an empty cardboard package that the paper came in), do a 5 sec. exposure, then slide the cardboard to leave enough space exposed and do another 5 sec., then another... Then once I know for example at f8 a 10-15 sec. exposure looks good, I'd do an entire strip at a guesstimate of say, 12 or 13 sec. Then go from there, too light, go to 14, too dark, go to 11 sec., etc.

I think for negs people usually use scissors and cut to the width of the paper (8") or negative sleeves, but either could probably work. Be careful and make sure you're in good light to see what you're doing. I usually got the film developed when I was using a shared darkroom since time was limited and I wanted to look at them on a small lightbox at home so I haven't done that in a long time.

And a grain scope... took being shown how to use it. After you focus your projected image thru the enlarger onto the easel, before you get out paper, use the scope to make sure it's in focus.


You know, if you could take a class/workshop... or maybe find some videos, just look at enough of them to get to be sure you're learning proper procedures.

Not sure what tray on the dry side would be... edit - probably to schlep prints? to the rinse or out into the light depending on how you're set up.

Yeah that does make sense, does it affect the print if it's pegged or doesn't matter when it's drying?

A press does seem quite impractical haha, maybe just taping to the board before framing will suffice! So the cutter is used only for photo paper and good for the test strips. Thank you very much for the link I'll give that a read through and take some notes for the process. A grain scope sounds like a very useful instrument to have for the enlarger!

Thanks for all your help, I really appreciate it!

Jack
 

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