Darkroom advice for a beginner

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by James-EG, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. James-EG

    James-EG Member

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    Tomorrow I am going back to school to study A-Levels, one of mine is Photography :smile: It's the first year the course will be run and the school seems to have really made an effort, they've converted the old DT rooms into a Photography classroom (I haven't had a proper look yet but I think there might be a kind of studio too). Anyway one of the new additions for Photography that has really got me looking forward to the course is the lovely new Darkroom :D On Friday I managed to go in and get a short tour by one of the Art teachers. Unfortunately I'm sure they haven't yet got all the equipment to go in the darkroom, I expected to see lots of various bits of equipment and a string or some kind of rack to dry the prints, however there was just one small sink and one large sink which I assumed was for the trays.

    As I am a complete beginner I have no idea what should be in a darkroom, I'm sure I will get taught this but I would like to hear from some of you first to get some information and knowledge about what I should expect to find in there when it's all set up, and also a short explanation of what purpose all the different bits of equipment have if that's possible.

    One last question, when I went into the darkroom and turned the light off, I noticed that a fire exit sign had been fitted on the inside and it had a quite bright green LED light, a safelight is meant to be red right? So surely the green sign will ruin any film?

    Thanks in advance for your help!
     
  2. fotch

    fotch Member

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    A darkroom cannot have a lighted exit sign because it would no longer be a darkroom.
     
  3. James-EG

    James-EG Member

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    That's what I thought, thanks for the reply. I will ask the teacher about it and see if it can be switched off.
     
  4. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

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    There is probably some sort of safety requirement for lighted exit signs. So long as they use light that is safe for paper you should be ok, though I don't think green would be safe. The university I attended had red safe-lights in the darkroom, but there was a small room, more like a walk-in closet, for loading film on the developing reels. This was completely dark (no safe-lights) but was so small there was no mistaking how to exit.

    Make sure you eat before entering the darkroom. In my undergraduate I took a photography class, and I became "lost" in the darkroom - enjoying it so much I always lost track of time. My jeans would be noticeably more loose by the time I left to return to my dorm room.
     
  5. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    A lit EXIT sign is mandatory in public spaces such as a communal darkroom. Hopefully the school as separate small "film rooms" in which the light can be turned off when loading or developing film.
     
  6. VesaL

    VesaL Member

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    tape a red gel film in front of the exit sign if it cannot be shut down/covered. That should do the trick.
     
  7. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    James, regarding your other questions, the thread linked below includes some beginner-level darkroom resources from Kodak and Ilford. The various publications can give you the basics of what equipment is required to develop film and make prints in a darkroom, darkroom design/lighting, etc.

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum216/114562-ilford-kodak-resources.html
     
  8. James-EG

    James-EG Member

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    Thanks for all of your replies, there was actually another room before I got into the darkroom with no lights that was very small, like Truzi said similar to a walk in closet. I didn't think it was related but that must be what it's for! The door into it does have a small window but that could be easily covered with black paper or something. Michael R 1974 - thanks for the link, I will read through it!
     
  9. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    James:

    You are in for a lot of fun!

    Darkrooms can vary greatly - I have worked in everything from my current converted for temporary use bathroom through a small 4' x 6' room with no plumbing under a set of stairs to a moderate sized special purpose three room set complete with water temperature controls and all the way to darkrooms supporting an extensive photography department in a large daily newspaper (15+ photographers) shooting black and white film exclusively.

    To get a sense of the variety, I would suggest browsing through the Darkroom Portrait threads and the Bathroom/Temporary Darkroom thread at the top of the Darkroom Equipment subfolder here: http://www.apug.org/forums/forum43/

    Don't get too concerned about the diversity of examples - it just shows the opportunity.