Any tips on making a portable in home darkroom that can be taken down?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by snay1345, Nov 7, 2010.

  1. snay1345

    snay1345 Member

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    My situation is I have just moved to Japan from California. In California I had a nice room where I had a darkroom setup. I began printing for the first time about 6 months before I moved here. Now that I am in Japan I have my enlarger but I live in a tower with pretty much no spare space. I am wondering if there is anything out there that can be setup and taken down that could act as a portable darkroom I guess that I could maybe setup in my kitchen after the family has gone to bed. If not my only option is to wait until everyone goes to sleep then turn of all the lights and unplug anything glowing and hope my son doesn't come out of his room for milk while I am exposing a print. Is there any type of darkroom cloth or anything. I would even be willing to build some frames that I could put up and take down if it came to that. Thanks
     
  2. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Darkroom blackout cloth can be used. I know space is limited in Japan, I lived there for a while and my darkroom is bigger than some hotel rooms I stayed in when vacationing... though the work-paid apartment I lived in was quite spacious luckily.

    Something like this maybe? Not sure where to get in Japan, I didn't have time for darkroom while I was there.

    http://www.freestylephoto.biz/26011...th-Flame-Retardant-Darkroom-Black-Out-Cloth-1
     
  3. mrred

    mrred Subscriber

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  4. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    Snay1345,

    I'm in a similar position as you, although I have yet to find an enlarger. And, like you, once I get it I'll probably be printing in the kitchen because it's the one room in the apartment that's big enough and only has one window (err...sliding doors). I did have a similar situation in Canada where I had to black out the entire apartment (bedroom bathroom, and living room), and short of taping up all the windows with black bags (which your family probably wouldn't like), I agree with the others about the blackout cloth. But you don't need to order "official" darkroom blackout cloth from the States (although what Freestyle has looks great and is a good price) -- you can easily go down to a local fabric store and buy blackout cloth there (often used for curtains). It may or may not be black, but the effect will be the same. I got some incredibly cheap blackout cloth in Canada because it was hot pink in colour, but it worked great.
     
  5. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    We need pictures of your pink darkroom Rachelle :smile: Posted in the darkroom portraits thread yet?
     
  6. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    Unfortunately that darkroom has been mostly dismantled (it's my parents' basement) but my lovely Beseler 45MX is there all by itself since I moved here. If it wasn't such a beast I would have brought it with me to Japan.

    I did bring the pink blackout cloth though, so once I'm set up I'll try to remember to take some pictures and post them!
     
  7. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    A pink darkroom with a red light glowing within. Reminds me of... Never mind.
     
  8. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    It wasn't like that all!! :wink: The whole darkroom wasn't pink, only the blackout cloth was. That being said, it did help the red safelight extend it's glow on the white walls...

    Getting back on topic, in another apartment I did have the enlarger set up permanently on a table in the corner of my bedroom. I also covered it up with a large bed sheet when not in use to help keep the dust off. However, I didn't have a spouse I needed to deal with, so that probably won't work for you (But maybe a similar alternative could). It was convenient though, as I could put the paper in a box or black bag and walk over to the bathroom for developing next door. Anyway, let us know what solution you come up with (and maybe post some photos for reference!).
     
  9. jvo

    jvo Subscriber

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    that's what i want - but with the horse....
     
  10. DAP

    DAP Member

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    Nova out of the UK makes portable darkroom tents (just large enough for person, enlarger, basic processing equipment, etc.). Shipping would probably be expensive, but it might be an option depending on how flush you are feeling at the moment.
     
  11. kb3lms

    kb3lms Subscriber

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    My "darkroom" is in the family workshop used for everything from school projects to wood working projects. I set up the enlarger on the workbench with the developing trays beside it. I also have two dishpans partially filled with water on an opposite shelf for prints to soak till I have enough to take them to the bathroom for running water; often I have to wait for somebody to get out of the shower anyway. For safelights I have two plug in night light holders with red Christmas lights. I also have an LED truck bumper light but it isn't really necessary. Works OK, although paper will begin to show fog with the LED light after about 5 minutes. Haven't noticed any fog from the Christmas lights. I used 11x14 size trays to minimize splashing. Prints come out of the fixer and go into the first dishpan for a couple of minutes and then into the second pan till I can get in the bathroom.

    It works very well so far. I can set up and tear down in 5 to 10 minutes. All the trays and other gear get rinsed in the shower when I am done. The basic idea came from "The Photographers Handbook" by John Hedgecoe (1979 - the book that started it all for me) On page 62 he gives ideas for an under-the-stairs closet darkroom.

    On advantage I may have that you might not enjoy in Tokyo is that I have not had to do anything with the casement windows. Living in a rural setting, i simply wait until it is dark to do any printing. OTOH, I have had kids walk in the door at just the wrong time while I am working and have not yet seen any ill effects. (They don't like the lecture that goes with it :smile: But it has also gotten some of them interested in the process - my 19 year old now develops many of my prints and my 17 year old has temporarily ditched her Nikon P&S digicam for the Canon AE-1P. (First roll was bad - what do you mean I have to FOCUS?) LOL.

    A caveat on the LED safelight. You can get the 6 LED model that I got at Wally World for $8 or $9, but it is very bright. They had a two or three LED model for less $$ that might work better. You will need a 12V adaptor or battery for that if you want to go that route. The lights are easily small enough to have a friend ship to Tokyo if you cannot find something there. Fifteen years ago when i was last in Tokyo they didn't have Walmart but maybe they do now.

    Have also only processed RC paper. I have no idea how well fiber paper would work but am am thinking of trying some in the next few weeks.

    Jason
     
  12. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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