Bathroom and other Temporary/Makeshift Darkrooms

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by JBrunner, Feb 5, 2008.

  1. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Hi guys,

    OK, I'm making a DVD, "Intro to the Black and White Darkroom" and will be releasing it next week, god willing and the creek don't rise.

    I intend to do a dedicated section on Bathroom Darkrooms, but I've always had a dedicated darkroom with a sink, etc. I'm curious to see any pictures of bathroom darkroom set ups, and I'm also curious about how those without print washers handle washing. I've tried to peruse the "show your darkroom" thread, but it is massive, and pretty much features dedicated darkrooms.

    I'm trying to include as many tips as possible for the newbie, and I figure many of them will be starting out in a bathroom or laundry room. Help with this subject would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Denis P.

    Denis P. Member

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    Jason, unfortunately I don't have any piccies for you (it was a couple of years ago, in pre-digi era), but I can offer some insight into how I did it.

    I had a rented apartment, with a small bathroom. I developed negs, and even made prints.

    The options for neg developing are obvious: developing tank and a couple of bottles to hold chems at the proper temperature (in a holding/tempering bath, probably a pail/bucket or whatever was at hand)....

    As for printmaking, I had a kind of wooden board (something like 2.5 ft x 3 ft, or something like that), which I would put over the bathtub, making a kind of platform, where I would place the trays.
    The enlarger was placed on top of the washing machine, thus separating dry and wet side :wink:

    Prints were washed in the bathtub or in the washbasin (bathroom sink) - shuffling them under stream of water every now anf then - no big deal...

    HTH,

    Denis
     
  3. sausage100uk

    sausage100uk Member

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    I started in a bathroom darkroom about 18 months ago, worked well-ish. I had board over the bath, enlarger on the left hand side then 3 trays on the right, nice workflow from enlarger to trays (i'm right handed), final tray was in the bath for washing. the main prob was (apart from insistant knocking from my just pregnant g/f) was being scrunched up over the bath. now I have a setup in the garage (not that I have been in there since my little man was born) with proper sides at waist height, extractor fan and separate wet/dry counters.
     
  4. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    Planning thoughts

    I built a darkroom in a half bathroom in an apartment I lived in, after I finished school. The main bath was off the ensuite, so the impeding of use of this bathroom's primary functionality during darkroom operations was not an issue.

    It was about 3' wide by 6' long. The enlarger went onto a strong narrow shelf that I anchored to the rear wall, above the toilet, and braced the top column with wires and turnbuckles to line it up. (Enlarger was a Beselar 23C)

    The removable baseboard shelf sat on rails attached to the walls, about 3' apart that were on either side of the toilet. This shelf sat level with the fixed enlarger shelf.

    Below the top shelf were two removable shelves that also sat on rails anchored to the wall. The top shelf held the developer and stop bath tray, and the lower shelf the fixer and wash tray. The print tray syphon overflowed into a 5 gallon pail that would periodically be dumped into the sink.

    Print processing was done while seated on a low stool.

    The setup was less then ideal, but all that I could fit into this space.

    The best bathroom darkroom gig I saw where there was more room was a pal from school, who put his enlarger on a second hand microwave shelf (back in the 80's, before a microwave spot was standard equipment in a kitchen). The cabinet under the enlarger stored the chemistry and suppies so they could remain as dust free as possible. He could wheel it from his room to the old victorian bathroom (actually once a bedroom with plumbing added a few decades later). An upside down funnel over the tub drain, and a hand shower thing attached over the tub spout made a great print washer.

    We had built a fold up plywood affair trimmed to snug to the tub top contours that sat over the bathtub to present a counter height support, and then had a surplus from old kitchen reno counter top we hauled home on trash day as a work surface. When not in use they stood folded up on end behind the bathroom door.

    For safelight (he only only printed at night) the window was covered with multiple layers of red tissue paper. Film was loaded onto reels in a changing bag. Prints dried on a retractable clothes line.
     
  5. DBP

    DBP Member

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    When I was first learning, I set the enlarger on a typewriter table, and then put the trays in the tub, with the last tray being hooked to the faucet. If I were doing something similar today I would probably just take a tray and drill some small holes at one end, then put it under the faucet. I've also used the bathroom sink as a washer, either letting the overflow drain serve as a siphon or partially blocking the main drain.
     
  6. Fotoguy20d

    Fotoguy20d Subscriber

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    I use to live in a studio apartment. I had my enlarger permanently on top of a low dresser (I used to pile t-shirts on top of the board and move them when I wanted to use it). I had a square tub (around 3 feet on a side) in the bathroom and Iwould put a piece of pine (around 12" wide) across the top with my trays set up on it. I would put the wash tray in the bottom of the tub and let the faucet run into it.

    Having recently moved into a house, I was trying to figure out how to put a proper darkroom into my laundry room. Reading this made me remember the extra bathroom down in the basement (that I have yet to use). I'm figuring on a table for the enlarger and then an extension to the already sizeable countertop by the sink for wet process.
     
  7. Gary Holliday

    Gary Holliday Member

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    Sorry no pictures either, but until my proper darkroom is built, I'm using the bathroom.

    3-4 planks of wood sit over the bath.
    Developing trays on top.
    Paterson print washer and holding tray sit in the bath...so a two tier set up.
    Enlarger sits on butcher's trolley which is wheeled in...not ideal though.
    Blackout material which is velcroed around windows and doors...easily removed (but I keep it up!)
    Extension cable underneath bathroom door for the enlarger and safelight.

    My bathroom is perfect as I have a huge skylight window for ventilation and plenty of daylight when toning.
     
  8. David Grenet

    David Grenet Member

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    There are some photos here and here. Obviously not mine though...
     
  9. Erik Hartmann

    Erik Hartmann Member

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    Jason I Use my bathroom, witch is very small.... and my son (loman here on apug) use a very, very little closet (did I spell it OK ??)....I will take some pictures and send them to You...

    Niels-Erik
     
  10. scootermm

    scootermm Subscriber

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    J
    Ill post some digisnaps tonite. I live in a 500sqft apt and use the kitchen/bathroom/bedroom closet as my "darkroom". Would that be useful?
     
  11. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    Generally I convert my kitchen. If I get time tomorrow I'll set up and post a few pictures.
     
  12. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    Shoot JB, likewise for me. I'll try to do a setup in my bathroom and kitchen and send over some pics, but don't wait for me though. I am traveling extensively for the next 6 weeks.

    Regards, Art.
     
  13. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    My first two darkrooms were in bathrooms. The first one was in a rented flat. The usual set-up with a board over the bath to hold the trays. For a print washer I used one of those plastic-coated metal shower caddies, which I bent into a shape with side arms to hold the sides of the prints, a bottom edge to hold the bottoms, and a twisted loop at the top, which I put the flexible hose through to wash the prints. My third bathroom had the dark part without running water in an outside shed, for loading film and printing, and the rest inside in a small bathroom - film processing and print washing basically.
     
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  15. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    You guys are gold. I appreciate all of the detailed answers, thought and time that has gone into these replies. Such a wonderful community.
     
  16. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I wouldn't want anyone to go to allot of trouble, I'm getting a good idea from the verbal descriptions. I'm realizing that it's pretty much personal adaptation to available space. Some rooms are larger than others, etc..
     
  17. scootermm

    scootermm Subscriber

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    well in that case....

    "darkroom"
    basically all I do in this space is develop film and load my film holders. My darkroom is a long closet in the bedroom of my apartment. I dont have anywhere near the number of clothes it would take to fill it so I put the few "closet" items in an armoire that my parents gave me. The closet doorway doesnt have a door but I use a couple layers of black out cloth and some velcro attached to the wall and the cloth. With three layers I'm able to completely black out the closet area. I lined the entirety of the carpeted floor with some rolls of plastic flooring to guard against any spills and splashes. Built a large table top that is waist high so I have a large working space for the big grout trays I use for presoak/dev/stop/fix etc. There are some built in shelves that I've lined with plastic and store all my chemicals, boxes of film, etc etc on.
    I use a huge spouted container (likely around 12 gallon capacity) and refill it so that I can fill my dev/stop/presoak.
    It isn't pretty but it is functional.

    "Coating printing area"
    This is basically the bath room. I have a bunch of shelves along one of the short walls where I store all my pt/pd, gum, alt process chems/paper/supplies/and such. Theres a table in front of the toilet that I have a thick sheet of glass atop that I coat on while sitting atop the toilet lid. Again, not pretty, but its functional.

    "processing area"
    The kitchen and laundry room serve the duel purpose of being a kitchen and a processing area (don't worry I keep things well separated).
    Theres a large 20x24+ print washer tray that I use for most washing etc. Along a half wall I have a set of those stout metal shelving units that I use the different shelves mainly for storing the big tubs of chems I buy and also for the multiple trays I use for clearing baths - one per each level and such.
    Above the 20x24 washing tray I have a set of sturdy wooden shelves that I store the most used chems (pot oxalate, citric acid, gelatin, washing aid, various pyrex cups, and alot of other stuff.
    lining all the walls and between kitchen shelves I have wire with loads and loads of clothespins for hanging paper to dry.
    In the laundry room I have a thin narrow table that is about waist high that run alongside the washer and I've split the washer water feed into two and have one half going to the 20x24 oriental slot washer, along with the draining tubes going into the washing machines drain pipe. It works wonderfully and again, it isnt pretty but it works and is functional (noticing a theme here?)

    so thats it in a nutshell J. Hope that helps.
     
  18. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I use a fairly large bathroom, but it is our only bathroom, so I have to be able to disassemble it. There are no windows, and a towel blocking the bottom of each of the two doors tends to make it dark enough for use.

    For film developing, I just load in the bathroom, and develop in the kitchen.

    For printing, my enlarger is on a rolling microwave cart, with paper safes below on the top shelf, and a large Rubbermaid tote on the bottom shelf.

    For storage, things like the focus finder, the negative carriers, and the lenses are in plastic bins inside the tote, along with the safelights and my contact glass. The trimmer fits on the top of the tote. The whole unit rolls out to a lesser used hall when I'm not doing darkroom work.

    Again for storage, the timer and the power supply are on the top shelf, along with a negative cleaner. They come off, and rest on a separate stool beside the cart when I work.

    The trimmer tends to move to the counter while working.

    With respect to the chemistry, I sometimes use tubes, and work with chemistry in the kitchen. In order to use trays, I needed something to adapt the bathtub. I ended up going to Home Depot and had them cut to size one of those long shelves designed for custom closets - the wire ones like this, only wider:

    http://www.homedepot.ca/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CatalogSearchResultView?D=938221&Ntt=938221&catalogId=10051&langId=-15&storeId=10051&Dx=mode+matchallpartial&Ntx=mode+matchall&recN=112831&N=0&Ntk=P_PartNumber

    The shelf is just the right length to rest on the top of the tub, and because it is a wire shelf, and reasonably impervious to water, I can have my chemistry trays on top, and one of two wash trays (the first wash) on the floor of the tub, with the wash water flowing first into one tray, and then down into the second.

    I have two clamp-on safelights - one for the end of the room nearest the enlarger, and the other near the tub. They both point up to the ceiling.

    I store everything that doesn't fit on the cart or in the tote in a cupboard, or the hall closet.

    I've photos of the bathroom when it isn't set up, and had planned to shoot a few showing the setup when it is operating the next time I'm able, but you said time was limited....:smile:

    Hope this helps.

    Matt
     
  19. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    My darkroom is in a semi-permanently converted bathroom, in that it's not functional as a bathroom, but, so far, no permanent changes have been made to the room or fixtures. It measures about 6 x 8 feet. I installed a pre-fab countertop along the outside wall that extends into the tub, and a second one right angles that is in the tub. These support the enlarger, paper storage and a Nova processor, with a bit of space open for trays if I need. Also, I've added shelving in every bit of available space otherwise. Over the top of the tub enclosure is a purpose-built drying screen
    The vanity/sink has print wash trays, or I can set up a Jobo at the sink.
    I do 35, MF, 4x5 formats and prints up to 11x14

    One of the problems I'm running into is that the chemicals are corroding the drain hardware, in both the sink and the tub. The metal parts are consumer grade stainless trim over plastic, but the stainless isn't up to the task.

    I'll post some pix later on.
     
  20. foxyscootie

    foxyscootie Member

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    For 11x14s, I use my kids' bathroom in my house because its the largest in the house, for 8x10s or smaller I use my bathroom(no window) & break my back developing prints in the tub.

    For the kids bathroom, I put a quilt & a sleeping bag over the window LOL! Yes its true. I set up the enlarger on the sink & have a 4' table that can hold 3 11x14 trays side by side, then I have a tray with hypo in the tub, or the second fixer tray if doing fiber. The shower head is a handhold type so I take it down & use it to do a first wash of the prints. Then I put the prints in another tray & carry into the kitchen(about 3 feet away) where I have 2 trays of hypo, selenium toner on the counter closest to the sink & the print washer in the kitchen sink. On the counter across from the sink, I have newspaper laid out where I put prints for a preliminary dry if fiber or if RC the final dry.

    I pour my chemicals down the drain in the both tubs depending on which bathroom I'm using. I haven't noticed anything yet, but I haven't been doing this very long.
    I'll post pics later using my son's digi cam.
     
  21. highpeak

    highpeak Member

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    I have been using bath-darkroom for almost two years now, it is a very small place and kind of dirty, so no pictures was taken. I found that I can handle all my developing need (from 35mm to 11X14 inches) but for printing, it get jammed at medium format, my enlarger is just not easy to get through the door, once its in, I have almost no room to wiggle.

    My darkroom is not light tight, I use black garbage bag to seal the window, because I do all my printing at night, I don't have to worry about the light leak from the door. I do find it very limited, sometime in the future I have to move on and get myself a real deal, or, I can just learn from the masters, get a bigger camera and do contact print only.

    Alex W.
     
  22. areaeleven

    areaeleven Subscriber

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    Since I set my bathroom up a few weeks ago and I'm very excited about it I'll add my two cents.

    For film development I have a changing bag to load film into my small tank. I only do 35mm and 120 so it works for me. I develop film in my kitchen being very careful about spillage and cleanup.

    For printing, I live in a small studio apartment but am blessed with a decent sized bathroom. I move my coffee table, a nice long, light and narrow wood table, into the bathroom. I put my enlarger (a LPL/Saunders C6600 so it's a nice size for my space), timer and paper on the table, put my trays in the bathtub and the safelight goes as far away from my table as possible. It takes me about 10 minutes to setup/takedown. It works fairly well, I have a decent separation of wet and dry. I can sit at the table and lean over, which isn't the most comfortable but it works. For washing I carefully take the print into the kitchen and use the steel sinks.

    I get a kick out of people asking "You made that in your bathroom?" when they see a print. And because I have limited storage the enlarger sits out on a table with some of the bits and pieces. Makes for a great, very useful conversation piece :smile: for visitors and is a useful reminder to me that there's always a print to be made.

    Cheers,
    Chris
     
  23. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Before I had my dedicated darkroom (which is still quite petite [7'x8'], and if you'd like pictures of it, I'd be glad to send you some), I used to work out of the bathroom. Two of the three bathroom darkrooms I've had were smaller than the dedicated darkroom I have now, especially on the width dimension. To work around this, I put my enlarger on the top shelf of a two-shelf cart, so I could wheel it in and out at will. On the bottom shelf sat my wash tray that would get put in the tub, and my Nova vertical slot processor. The Nova slot processor is gods greatest gift to space-challenged darkroom workers. I was able to print up to 16x20 in black-and-white OR color with it, but it took up less space than a single 16x20 tray. I would set the enlarger on the toilet seat, or leave it on the cart as the situation allowed, then put the Nova processor on the sink. The only hassle in the workflow was transferring the fixed print to the wash tray. It was a single step to the left from the enlarger to the processor, but from the processor to the wash meant turning around and taking three or four steps to the tub with the print that was still dripping fixer.
     
  24. eddie gunks

    eddie gunks Member

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    i will post pics tonight when i get home. i a planning to set her up and print a bit tonight anyway. enlarger on the sink. small card table to hold the trays and was in a tray in the tub.

    eddie
     
  25. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    No pictures here either. I've always had darkrooms in bathrooms. I even set up a darkroom in my bathroom at home once when I was working for a weekly newspaper--their darkroom was a joke and, besides, I could do my processing and printing while sipping a cold one or two if I had the darkroom at home.

    My current darkroom is located in a small room adjacent to a small bathroom. It's probably about 5' by 7' in size with one side having the enlarger on a cabinettop, shelves beside and storage above and below. On the other side I have a table for my trays. Although there is running water nearby in the bathroom, it's too small for any actual darkroom work. I load my film in the darkroom and take it to the kitchen to develop and wash. For my prints, I keep them in a holding tray and then take them to the kitchen for washing. I use a Versalab washer on the countertop in the kitchen and drain it into the sink. I've tried washing prints in the shower stall of the bathroom but it's torture on the back--this set up works much better.

    This is the smallest darkroom I've ever had in a home bathroom. My first darkroom was set up in the bathroom of a large two story house that had been converted from a single residence to an apartment house. My bathroom had once been the hallway that ran down the middle of the ground floor. It was very long and pretty wide. The only problem with having a darkroom in there was that there were three doors along one wall, all chronically leaking light.
     
  26. Sanjay Sen

    Sanjay Sen Member

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    I don't have my wife's digi around, so no pics for now. Sorry. But I hope the following description helps somewhat:

    The bathroom in my apartment is small, about 3' wide (excluding the width of the countertop that has the wash basin) and 9.5' long. I have to work at night because the bathroom door is not light-tight, but after all the lights are turned out it's quite dark in there. To keep things simple, I do not develop film and print in the same session.

    I develop sheet film in trays, so that is pretty simple. I use an ironing board flush with one wall (opposite the wash basin), and place the developer, stop and fixer trays on this board. At full extension the height of the ironing board is just right for me. The first tray with the water (pre-soak) stays next to the wash basin, on the countertop, on the right; the film holders are on the other side of the wash basin, on the countertop, on the left. So the sequence is: unload -> move right -> pre-soak -> turn 180° -> developer -> move right -> stop -> move right -> fix. All washing is carried out on the bath tub using a Premier Print Washer and a Versalab 11x14 Print Washer (a recent addition).

    For a printing session, the enlarger (LPL D6700) moves in and occupies a space next to the ironing board, nearer to the door and further from the bathtub. I use a bar stool, bought from IKEA, to place the enlarger on. The height of the enlarger on this stool is just right for me. The developer, stop and fixer trays occupy the same place on the ironing board - except that a fourth tray is added for the second fixer. The water pre-soak tray is replaced by a tray with the fixer remover, and on the other side of the wash basin there's another tray with the toner. The seventh tray, with the wetting agent, sits on the toilet seat cover. All washing is carried out in the bathtub as before.

    Film (sheets) and RC prints are hung to dry over the bathtub; FB prints get squegeed and laid on the kitchen countertop to dry.

    The bathroom lights and the exhaust fan operate on the same switch, so to have the fan on with the lights off, the bulbs need to come off. It takes me at least an hour to set everything up, and more to take everything apart. So once the darkroom is setup on Friday evening, it doesn't come off until Sunday morning! It helps that the wife is away in grad school...:smile:

    Sorry for the long-winded post, but I hope it helps in some way. I'll try to borrow a digicam to get some shots of the setup.


    Best wishes,
    Sanjay