An Actual Darkroom

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by AutumnJazz, May 5, 2008.

  1. AutumnJazz

    AutumnJazz Member

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    I'll eventually be moving. When I move, I plan to build a dark room, probably in the basement of the house I would move into.

    Does anyone know of any resources where I could find out general things I would need for a darkroom? Such as, how large should it be? What kind of entry? What kind of counter/sink setup? Silver recovery systems?

    Basically, I want to know everything and anything about a home darkroom. I'm not very constructionally skilled, and by that, I mean I can't even make some shelves or a birdhouse, so I would have to have a contractor come out to section off parts of the basement.

    So I'm at a total loss of what I need to know. What do I need? How much would it cost?

    (I'd like to do color (slides and ilfochromes, I suppose), but it is not completely necessary, and if color would add some huge cost to the building of a darkroom, I would skip it.)

    Thanks to all. I am so happy that I found this forum, without it, I would not have the knowledge that I do now. I've learned so much about film photography from so many people. I genuinely appreciate all of the help that I've been given, it has helped me a lot to better my own skills and give me goals, such as building a darkroom. :smile:
     
  2. Síle

    Síle Member

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    You can't go far wrong with the darkroom portraits thread here.. http://www.apug.org/forums/forum43/10966-darkroom-portraits.html
    It gave me all I needed to set mine up.
    Good luck and enjoy!

    Síle
     
  3. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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  4. AutumnJazz

    AutumnJazz Member

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  5. RJS

    RJS Member

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    darkroom

    Most photo stores have books among which there are probably at least one or two on darkroom design and construction. If your local store doesn't have any try Google for some - I'm sure you will find a bunch. Ansel Adams has information in his books - the supply is endless.

    Have a good time and don't worry about being unskilled. You will learn as you go. Contractors in my experience are not only expensive but not much good. For major stuff you may need one, but you can do most yourself. Adding color requires not much different depending on how far you want to go.
     
  6. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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  7. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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  8. schwefel

    schwefel Member

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    You an I are in the same boat.

    I will 2nd the portaits thread. Look through the pictures and get a feel for what looks good to you. And what does not look good, as well. Here is some practical advice, other than the wet/dry side, etc.

    Start accumulating the equip you need. You can afford to be patient and wait for a good deal. Last month I scored mostly complete set of darkroom equip, including a Beseler 45M and 4 lenses for under $250 off of Craigslist. I have a line on a 6ft sink that I will look at when I get home. Yeh, all the stuff is going into storage, but there is a method to my maddness. (It is coming, keep reading.)

    Remember there is no such thing as too big a darkroom. However, even if there is no SO who will object to space utilization, making your whole basement into a darkroom/studio is not practical. So, when you finally get the place and have a general idea where you will be able to build your darkroom, do this:

    Get some painters plastic, sheets, or whatever you can use to simulate walls. Staple to the ceiling/joists if you have to. Make some makeshift counter tops out of whatever. (Cardboard will work.) Take your enlarger, sink, whatever you have accumulated and set it up on whatever will support the weight. (Use this determine the best working height fo you and your equipment. This is *your* darkroom, find the height that works best for you. Conversely, you do no want to build a counter and find out that there is not enough clearance for the enlarger. Anything you do not have, simulate with boxes, or whatever.

    Don't forget about a lit work area, if you have the room. If you can, you want a place for an area to mount/frame, a light table, storage units, etc. I fridge, film dryer, and the other stuff is also good to have as well. Play around with the layout. Find the best way to use the space.

    While you are doing all that, do not forget to take into acount plumbing lines (supply, drain AND vent), electrical, doorways and so on.

    Once you have settled on a layout, sketch it out and make a bill of materials and start building.

    Sorry to be so verbose, but that is exactly what I plan on doing when I get my new place. Have to sell the current house first, though. (Had a showing yesterday, 2 more later this week. Keeping my fingers crossed.)

    Jason
     
  9. AutumnJazz

    AutumnJazz Member

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    Outside of building the darkroom, what should I budget for things like an enlarger (although Manhattan seems to have a crap load of enlargers for sale pretty cheap...but that's a long drive, and with gas like it is...), steel reels, developing tanks, etc.? Right now I only do 35mm, but I'd like to get into medium format and large format some day. Should I just go out and buy stuff that will work with large format (4x5? 8x10?) all the way down to 35mm, or are prices continually falling so it would be a better idea to just get 35mm stuff now and invest into the bigger formats when I'm able to get into them?
     
  10. Mark_S

    Mark_S Member

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    If starting from scratch, keep your eyes on e-bay and craigslist for someone who is selling an entire darkroom with all the bits and pieces. As you noted, there are a lot of good deals out there. Look for something that is local, or you will be killed by the shipping. A lot of the little things will add up to a lot of money if purchased separately, but they tend to be tossed in for free if you are buying the major items in the darkroom.

    I do not print colour - I process and print B&W, and I process colour transparancy film which I scan and print digitally. To process colour film, having a Jobo processor makes your life much easier - I highly recommend them.
     
  11. sausage100uk

    sausage100uk Member

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    I have just had electricity put in mine, definitely worth getting a pro in. Mine is in the garage, I had a new ringmain and breaker put in with 4 normal sockets on the dry side and a double waterproof socket on the wet side (for warming trays) as well as 4 more sockets for utilities for the utilities, a new house circuit breaker all for £800.
     
  12. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Jeezz, 800 pound, if you're not from the type electricuting himself when already thinking of changing a lamp and know what circuit breakers are for, installing a few extra waterproof sockets is not that difficult. Just buy the stuff that is available for outdoor usage, and make sure everything is connected up properly, including grounding. Especially if you don't plan to install kWatts of equipment, requiring a full new ringmain as suggest in the previous post, it is do-able.

    But: of course safety first...
     
  13. sausage100uk

    sausage100uk Member

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    Unfortunately any electrical work you do on your house now has to be done by a certified electrician, no more DIY re-wiring. :sad:
     
  14. schwefel

    schwefel Member

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    That depends where you live. By your handle, I assume you are in the UK. In the states, depending on your municipality, you can do your own electrical. Yes, some require that an licensed electrician sign off on it, others just require an inspection. Same goes for plumbing as well.

    If in doubt, call your local building inspector and they can tell you what is acceptable. I know (fairly certain) that Chicago required all wiring to be done with armored cable, while most areas NM (Romex) is all that is needed. Check your codes.

    Jason
     
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  15. Lori V

    Lori V Member

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    I just finished my first home darkroom (in the basement), five months ago. The darkroom portraits thread was VERY helpful. Also...I was advised to create the largest wet area possible and I'm glad I did so. I print more 16X20's than anything else...and have the room to print 20X24.

    While I was in the planning stages, I visited two accomplished photographer/printer's home darkrooms ..and once I saw that good printing does NOT require state of the art space, I relaxed a little and got to the printing much sooner. Good Luck.
     
  16. geoferrell

    geoferrell Member

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    I think Calumet has many darkroom items in their online catalogue and Freestyle.biz in L.A. has a good catalogue for various items. Ebay at times has enlargers at a great discount, too.
     
  17. Goofy

    Goofy Member

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    It's not strictly true that the new UK regulations require all electrical work to be carried out by a qualified electrician. Minor works are allowed, and anything that is connected to a plug/socket is not controlled. As a Darkroom is unlikely to take more than 13 Amp, (in the UK) it's advisable to fit a socket that has a built-in ECLB and plug your Darkroom installation in to that. That has the advantage that you can completly isolate the equipment. Most equipment now is Double-Insulated, and if it isn't make sure that you fit a good Earth wire to it. A separate Earth is better than relying on the three-core cable.
     
  18. Troy Hamon

    Troy Hamon Member

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    I was in this situation and elected to build a darkroom a couple of years ago. I posted my thought processes, asked questions, and reported progress in a thread here on APUG. My intention was to leave a record of what it is actually like to try to put in a darkroom, with all the different things it entails. My situation in the frigid north is a bit different than many others' might be, but if you are interested in a long slow journey through the development of my darkroom, here it is. One thing that I have definitely noticed...it's never done. I just quit working on it for long periods due to the happy circumstance that I'm working in it. Wonderful complication, that.