B&W, Color or Both??

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by mtbbrian, Sep 17, 2006.

  1. mtbbrian

    mtbbrian Member

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    My dream of having my darkroom is closer to being a relaity than ever before, so it gets me thinking on how I want to do my darkroom and what I want to do with it.
    I'd say my work is 50/50 color and b&w and both would be negative type fims.
    I have printed my own stuff before and know what is needed to do both, I also know that color would have larger start up costs. I am guessing I'd process that in a Jobo processor and do the b&w via trays.
    So maybe in the course of writing this, I think I might want to start with b&w and build up to printing color.
    Anyone have any other input?
    Thanks!
    Brian
    :confused:
     
  2. Dave Starr

    Dave Starr Member

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    Starting with B&W is a good idea. If you don't have an enlarger yet, got one with a color head. They're very useful for VC papers in B&W. You'll also develop some familiarity with working in the darkroom. A Jobo is not an absolute nessessity, but it's really handy to have. It makes temperature control a LOT easier. That said, I went a lot of years without one. I developed B&W and color film, and made color prints without a Jobo. At its' most basic, you can use a cat litter pan and a couple aquarium heaters to maintain temperatures for color film processing. Color prints can be done in trays at room temperature. I did it that way for years, but now that I have a CPP-2, I'd never go back.
     
  3. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    A little of both here

    Yes, Dichroic is handy if you intend to do color, but VC filters work well for B&W, and with Ilfords they include neutral density as well, so you don't have to change times when swapping contrast filters except when going to the hardest end of the range. That I miss.

    With a dichroic head and B&W the time changes every time you screw with a filter. I have self calibrated markings on the dial calculator that comes with the Kodak darkroom data guide to help me deal with print exposure differences when I dial in a grade 2 for the test print, then decide that I want to really print it at 3 or 4 for the final print. It is worth tracking down one of the data guides, even if they are years out of date for the dial calculator alone- still lots of relevant info in the other parts too, and they include a good ring around poster to help you figure out colur filtration and exposure.

    I don't use a jobo - just a cooler with a fish tank heater and pump to warm the chemistry. I use daylight tubes for color paper with a uniroller base to agitate, although I have agitated in a heated open trays in total darkness as well. The results I get from color I have appreciated more by spending my money on a *bay bought colorstar analyser, then a jobo.

    I have more pleasure manipulating an image in B&W printing and processing, but others seem to like the colour work, though it comes from more robotic processing to get the output from a home darkroom.

    I use an old vivitar process timer - gralab makes then to, to keep me from forgetting where I am in the steps of processing C41, E6 or RA4. I use a gralab 300 to time my wash to keep me from washing things too long or to short.
     
  4. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    As Dave says, you don't really need much extra to do color. After having tried both drums and trays for making color prints, I prefer using trays, despite the fact that I have to fumble around in total darkness to manipulate the paper. For processing negatives, an ordinary manual tank works fine; you've just got to use a water bath to maintain the appropriate temperature -- I do this with a small plastic tub, which holds the temperature well enough for a few minutes. Thus, for basic color work the only important things that you must have, beyond what's required for B&W, are color film, color paper, color chemistry, and color filters for the enlarger. If you buy an enlarger with built-in color filters to begin with, you'll be set, and as already noted, you can use the color filters for controlling contrast with VC B&W papers.

    That said, starting with B&W is a good idea since it's easier to get a good B&W print than it is to get a good color print. (At least in my experience when learning things.) OTOH, if you've already done both, that might not be an issue.
     
  5. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Brian,

    At the risk of incurring thunderbolts, my wife Frances Schultz and I don't print 'wet' colour any more. We process traditional B+W, XP2 Super, C41 neg and E6. The B+W (trad + C41) we print wet; the C41 and tranny we scan and print.

    If digi B+W ever equals wet, we'll switch, but we ain't holding our breath.

    Cheers,

    Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com)
     
  6. mtbbrian

    mtbbrian Member

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    I am not planning on processing any film, I just don't want to.
    I am not sure when this will happen, but I know it will!
    We are moving into the new home this weekend!
    I guessing the space is about 5'x7' or so.
    More to come, LOTS MORE!
    Thanks for your comments.
    Brian
     
  7. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    5x7 - lots of room for a wet darkroom, but beware of its dark side..

    Mine is not much bigger than that - the door is in the middle of the 7' side, a pocket door.

    The wet side is a home made fibreglass over plywood sink about 22" deep by almost 5' long. There is a shelf under half the sink for gallon jugs, drying screens on racks for prints on the other half. A vertical print washer sits at one end of the sink.There are a bunch of shelves over the sink on adjustable brackets and rails for larger dry chems bottles, and quart sotock solution storage. Opposite the door is a small cabinet that has a low counter where the heater cooler sits. Above this is a not to deep cabinet for dry chemistry, and small bottles of stock solutions.

    The dry side is a 30" deep plywood counter that the enlarger sits in the middle of. Behind it up high are shelves, again on rails, for books, manual, binders of negatives, slide carusel, etc. Below the counter are 36" deep surplus deep drawer units, and in the middle are a pair of 12" deep units.

    Storage galore. Put doors over as many 'little things' storage locations - it is so much easier than vaccuuming all of them.

    Read up on ventilation threads. I have contributed to a few It becames increasingly important with color work, where everything is usally warmer, and therefore evaporates that much faster. Plus the chems are a wee bit less nice.

    For big stuff - 20x24 etc, I put a big long plywood sheet over my carefully levelled washer and dryer in the adjacent launry room, and use the laundry sink as my water source and drain in those cases. I work from one tray at those sizes. I usally have to deal with any laundry back up while I have commandeered the laundry room in these cases.

    I also use my darkroom to wash out, ferment and bottle home made wine, and when making home made soaps - try that in your sales pitch if your significant other is showing resistance to the idea of a darkroom construction budget.

    Get a list made of all the things you need to do to the house before you start your darkroom. Set a cash and time budget to get at least 3/4 of the big (ie a weekend or more effort is required) items done; I suggest not longer than 1.5 years. Then start the darkroom. the other 1/4 of the original list will never get done, or will take 5 years to get accomplished once you get the darkroom going.

    Negotiate a darkroom night a week, to start, and stick to it. That way your partner will not kill you right off when you get home from work, wolf down dinner, disapear into the darkroom, and never speak to them until they shake you awake the next day because you were focussed on perfecting that print and crawled to bed at 2am.

    You can spot prints, select prints from a contact sheet, cut a matte, or mount a film in filing sleeves here and there; maybe even process a film before that night to get ready, but try not to print more than 1 night a week to start; break that rule and you can tread down a road that will test even the most loving relationship.

    Once the initial flush is off, and you have used your new wet facility for a few months the maniac phase will have faded, and you will know your limits and be able to monitor your behaviour better. Photography is a great hobby, but a wet darkroom is usually a solitary pursuit.

    Happy planning for your new facility.
     
  8. mtbbrian

    mtbbrian Member

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    Great minds think alike! I was thinking of the very same!
    I think my biggest challenge will be drainage, all of the drains are opposite of this space.
    My wife is supportive of it.
    Thanks for the advice(photographic and marital) and laugh!
    :rolleyes: :D :smile: :wink: :cool:
    Brian