Starting up a darkroom!

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by jackcollings, Aug 19, 2015.

  1. jackcollings

    jackcollings TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2015
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    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


     
  2. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2012
    Messages:
    16,708
    Likes Received:
    4,205
    Location:
    Iowa
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    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.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  3. KenC

    KenC Been spending a lot of time on here!

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2010
    Messages:
    5,700
    Likes Received:
    1,472
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    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.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. jackcollings

    jackcollings TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2015
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit

    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!
     
  5. jackcollings

    jackcollings TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2015
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit

    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
     
  6. PWhite214

    PWhite214 No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2011
    Messages:
    208
    Likes Received:
    53
    Location:
    Houston, Texas USA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    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
     
    • Useful Useful x 1
  7. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2013
    Messages:
    7,004
    Likes Received:
    2,073
    Location:
    US
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    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.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. KenC

    KenC Been spending a lot of time on here!

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2010
    Messages:
    5,700
    Likes Received:
    1,472
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    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.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. jackcollings

    jackcollings TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2015
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    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
     
  10. jackcollings

    jackcollings TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2015
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    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
     
  11. jackcollings

    jackcollings TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2015
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    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
     
  12. KenC

    KenC Been spending a lot of time on here!

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2010
    Messages:
    5,700
    Likes Received:
    1,472
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit


    Nope, wipe off excess water and hang up to dry (a few minutes)
     

Share This Page