Color of Darkroom

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by hspluta, Mar 26, 2010.

  1. hspluta

    hspluta Member

    Messages:
    73
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2010
    Location:
    Chicago Area
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Well the last "real" darkroom I worked in was back in the early '70s and it was OD green ( as were my clothes, vehical, and everything else in my "world" ). Since those days I have had numerous bathrooms and basement rooms which I have used, but have not had a dedicated darkroom.

    I am now getting ready to dedicate a part of my house for use as a darkroom. As I was looking at the thread showing pictures of peoples darkrooms I noticed most were white. I would have thought that you would want them black, at least the walls around the enlarger.

    I can understand that the safelight might reflect better off white walls, but I would think you are also bouncing ambient light off your enlarger onto your paper.

    Am I missing something?
     
  2. jcorll

    jcorll Member

    Messages:
    63
    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Location:
    Western PA
    Shooter:
    35mm
    well, there shouldn't be any "ambient" light getting into your darkroom in the first place!

    The darkroom I use (high School) is white with black wooden dividers surrounding the enlarger.
    You can make your darkroom what ever color you want. IMHO, I would make it white, just because white paint is cheaper XD

    Does it really matter what color you use? I don't think so.
     
  3. Sim2

    Sim2 Subscriber

    Messages:
    465
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2009
    Location:
    Wiltshire UK
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I don't think that it really matters what colour the darkroom is, it may be a bit of an asthetic thing - the all black darkroom is a very gloomy place but the white darkroom is easier on the eye.

    Providing the safelight itself doesn't fog the paper, reflecting this off white walls makes no difference apart from making it easier to find things! In a black darkroom it can be suprisingly easy to lose things. A black surround to the enlarger just makes it easier to see the neg on the baseboard without the safelight falling on the area.
    Paint the walls blue just for a laugh!
    Sim2.
     
  4. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,440
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Location:
    northern Pa.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It doesn't matter what color it is, but sheen does play a large part. I would definitly use flat exterior paint. Flat for obvious reason, and exterior grade because it has a mildewcide incorporated in it, so no mold or mildew problems, also its washable, so its easy to maintain, and its durable. I use exterior paint in the kitchen and bath for those reasons. My DR is a nice chocolate color, because it was a mis-mix at the hardware, and only cost $5 for a gallon (the best way to buy paint).

    Rick
     
  5. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,442
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2002
    Location:
    Calgary AB,
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    All surfaces are painted flat black in my darkroom.
     
  6. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

    Messages:
    5,682
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I think it does indeed matter what colour the darkroom is.

    I agree with Sim2: except for the bit near and behind the enlarger, it should be pure white.
    There is no need to have dark, light absorbing surfaces.
    On the contrary. You will want to get the most out of the little light there is.
     
  7. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,678
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Location:
    Chicago
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Flat black around the enlarger, semigloss white everywhere else. I used semigloss simply because it is easier to clean....it still has a few stains here and there, though.
     
  8. sepiareverb

    sepiareverb Subscriber

    Messages:
    653
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2007
    Location:
    VT
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My darkroom has medium/dark grey walls, black woodwork and a very blue ceiling. Blue linoleum floor too. The enlargers are far enough from the walls to not worry about stray light. I have more safelights than some, but prefer pools of light where I put them to an overall ambient level of light. Makes the lit areas seem brighter even with very small 5W nightlight bulbs. Some of my safelights even have ND filtration.
     
  9. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,362
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2005
    Location:
    Alaska
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    White walls will help reflect the safelight, and make the darkroom just a little brighter (but still safe). But paint the area around the enlarger black, to help absorb any stray white light from the enlarger.
     
  10. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,440
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Location:
    northern Pa.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ok, heres where it gets interesting-- If you want the most reflectance from the safelight, then you should paint your DR the same color as the safelight lens you are using, with high gloss paint.

    Rick
     
  11. clayne

    clayne Member

    Messages:
    2,836
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2008
    Location:
    San Francisc
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Buck the trend - go with glass walls.
     
  12. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,440
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Location:
    northern Pa.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hey--now thats an idea I can wrap my brain around!

    Rick
     
  13. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,915
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location:
    SE Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I would think if you ever intend to do color processing it would be good to stick with black, white or gray rather than lime green or something that might add a color cast compared with a normal gallery lighting environment. Myself, I went with flat white, but may go to black around the enlarger if I ever manage to come up with permanent cabinetry and counters.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. fschifano

    fschifano Member

    Messages:
    3,216
    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    Location:
    Valley Strea
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Mine is mostly white. The walls adjacent the enlarger are flat black. It works.
     
  16. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,896
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Our Kodak darkrooms were matte yellow tiles and we had no problem.

    Think on that!!!!!!

    PE
     
  17. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,440
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Location:
    northern Pa.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Gray is a good thought, take an 18% gray card in to the paint store and have it matched.

    Rick
     
  18. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,896
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You missed my point already. At Kodak we use matte yellow tiles in all darkrooms and it has no significant effect. So, why go to all the trouble of selecting a color?

    PE
     
  19. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

    Messages:
    2,057
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2004
    Location:
    Nicholasvill
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    White works, but black is very difficult to work under with just a safelight. I worked in a yellow darkroom before, and it was fine under the safelight, but very uncomfortable with the lights on. This publication from Kodak suggests a medium tan color with a matte or satin finish.
     
  20. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,727
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    ******************
    The walls of my darkroom are Kodak yellow. Area behind the enlarger is brown pegboard.
     
  21. Stephen Frizza

    Stephen Frizza Member

    Messages:
    1,438
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hi Ron were any of these rooms used for printing colour murals?
     
  22. photomem

    photomem Member

    Messages:
    625
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2009
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    My darkroom is avacado green and Terra cotta floors. I haven't had any problems thus far.
     
  23. Cruzingoose

    Cruzingoose Member

    Messages:
    211
    Joined:
    May 27, 2006
    Location:
    South Dakota
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Color is nowhere as important as the surface of the walls. A flat paint will diffuse light and any reflections. My DR is a nice pleasing beige/tan. My safelight is a string of 35 amber/yellow LED holiday lights strung across the length of my DR. Main lighting is a 40 watt full spectrum flouro tube with a ccr of 96. Room size is 8'x12'. You want the light to be even, and light walls and ceiling will help a lot. Dark colors are just too dreary and it takes a lot of white light to light up the room.
     
  24. clayne

    clayne Member

    Messages:
    2,836
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2008
    Location:
    San Francisc
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    http://www.superbrightleds.com

    Amber/yellow is asking for definite trouble with non-Ilford stuff.
     
  25. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

    Messages:
    2,258
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2008
    Location:
    Warwickshire
    Shooter:
    35mm
    My darkroom is a pleasant white eggshell lustre. I did think about putting black cardboard on sections of the walls close to the enlarger (my darkroom is 3 foot wide) where the light reflects.
     
  26. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

    Messages:
    1,297
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    Location:
    Oregon and Austria
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    My reasoning goes this way:

    1) I want to be able to bounce safelight around the darkroom to make the place as bright, comfortable and pleasing to work in as possible.

    2) I use amber safelights a lot, but at times also use red when necessary for materials that might fog in amber light.

    3) Semi-gloss white reflects all colors fairly equally without glare, and will thus take on the color of whatever safelight is being used, reflecting the maximum amount of light around. Gray would be neutral, but then reflect only a fraction of the safelight (18% gray reflects only 18% of the light falling on it. Even "skin tone" is only 36% reflectance. White gets up to the 90% range.)

    4) Yellow would probably do this as well for the yellow and red safelights, but then everything would take on a yellow cast when the white light was on. This is a problem because...

    5) I want to be able to evaluate print tone in as neutral an environment as possible, so white is needed so that I'm not projecting a color-cast from the walls onto my prints. (This is valid for green, blue and other-colored walls as well.) Illumination needs to be taken into account for viewing prints too, but this is separate from the wall-color issue. If I were only developing film, this would not be an issue, but since I print there too, white seems the only way to go.

    6) Every one of the Beseler 45 and Omega D enlargers I have worked with spills some unwanted light from the negative carrier/head, no matter what I do in the way of adjusting light source and carrier holder. This has a tendency to bounce off white walls and could possibly fog prints during long print exposures. Yellow (i.e., safe-colored) walls would fix this, but would result in the color-cast problem mentioned above. Therefore...

    7) I have surrounded my enlarger's light leaks with flat-black as much as possible. Sometimes this is just a flat-black mat board mounted on the wall, sometimes a baffle or frame hung from the enlarger itself, whatever works in the setup I have. The object is to catch stray light with a minimum of black surface area while leaving the rest of the darkroom white and reflecting safelight. I could maybe get the same result with yellow and red and have a more cheerful (or at least more colorful) darkroom. This is a definite possibility.


    Final verdict: Semi-gloss (or flat) white walls for as much of the darkroom as possible. Flat-black (or yellow/red) around enlarger heads to limit unwanted light from the head/negative carrier. I also find it helpful to have safelights around the enlargers that can be turned off easily (handy switch or chain) so that unwanted light from the safelights doesn't swamp detail in the print when focusing.

    Boy, that got long real fast... Hope it helps,

    Best,

    Doremus Scudder
    www.DoremusScudder.com