Darkroom lighting control

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Calamity Jane, Aug 10, 2005.

  1. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Member

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    I'm in the process of moving my darkroom from a cramped spare bedroom to a HUGE basement.

    My concept for the new space is "modular", where the wet side, dark side, enlarger, and various other items can be rearranged at will to suit whatever I am doing at the time.

    One thing I haven't figured out is how to control the lighting.

    I have (and prefer) 4 levels of lighting: totally dark, safe light, low light, and bright lights. Safe lights and low lights will be clamp-on fixtures that are easy to move. Bright lights will be fixed to the ceiling.

    Since the darkroom can be easily rearranged, I am hesitant to wire-in light switches.

    Is anybody using any kind of remote control for lighting?

    It would be easier to carry a tv-type remote in my pocket than to moved hard-wired switches.

    Thanks
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Best control for the main lighting is a pull cord switch usually used in bathrooms etc.

    Just mount it on the wall and then run the cord the full lenght of the darkroom so you can turn the main lights off/on from anywhere in the darkroom.

    Scottish company PIFCO sold their remote control technology to a US company it's now sold as X10, can even be voice activated, or hand remote.
    www.x10.com

    The light pull works quickly and is very cheap !

    Ian
     
  3. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    I use a remote control for my main room light (receiver built in to the wall switch) but I have the safelight on continuously (it's a sodium lamp type and they do not like being switched on and off - takes time to warm up). My inspection light over the wet bench has a built-in pull switch.

    Bob.
     
  4. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    Consider a portable foot switch. My inspection light over the sink is on a footswitch, and it works great. I wouldn't do without it. Got mine from linemaster.com
     
  5. rjr

    rjr Member

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    After using it at a friends darkroom, I got myself a RC setup for the safelights - the LED safelights ac/dc converters plug into one of the three receivers and the control gives me 4 channels to separate the installations (4 channels of 6 or 8 available, so that I can combine several of the systems). I keep the controller in my pockets so that I can use it whereever I am - be it on the wet or the darkside.

    I need it ´cause my darkroom analyzer -a Kaiser/Hauck Trialux- needs absolute darkness to function properly and this setup allows for even lighting without running in circles to turn the lamps on or off.

    It works pretty good and it was quite cheap (12EUR).

    The only thing I haven´t gotten myself to is to plug a white light into the third receiver - I fear for pushing the wrong button in the wrong moment.
     
  6. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Member

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    FWIW: I have decided to go with a DIY low voltage light control.

    I have one already that I use to control outside lights so I figured I'd do another variation for the basement (which is also the darkroom).

    One advantage of the DIY L.V. control is I can put a switch at the film loading station that will prevent ANY lights from coming on. Since it uses low voltage, I can run wires anywhere and have as many control stations as I want. I can also "interlock" the different lighting levels (i.e. if you turn on the bright whites, it shuts off the safelights). Sooooo, I'll end up with 4 buttons at each station: bright whites, low light, safelight, and all-off.

    Thanks for the ideas on R/C
     
  7. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    You've not mentioned safelight color. With so much flexibility
    you certainly are not going to ignore safelight filter color.

    Allowed color and level of lighting for VC and Graded papers
    are quite different. Graded papers can use a quite bright
    orange-ish yellow color while VC must use a rather dim
    red-ish orange or even orange-ish red color.

    If you've not visited a well lite Graded paper darkroom
    you're in for a surprise; that is if you allow for the
    lighting permitted when using Graded paper. Dan
     
  8. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Member

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    Dan: I use dim dark red - yes, I use VC papers. I also like to keep the light level low just to be on the safe side.
     
  9. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    You can use a bright safelight with VC if you use the sodium vapour or LED based type as these have a very narrow spectrum. Use the Kodak test method to make sure you are not fogging the paper. I have tested the VC papers I use to 12 minutes. It's bright enough that I can read my handwritten printing notes.

    With the sodium lamps, test your paper every few months as the lamps start to emit on other wavelengths as they age. Other snag with the sodium is that they take a few minutes to warm up and are not safe until they do - this means you have to keep it switched on all the time you are printing. LED types can be switched on/off as normal.

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  10. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    I thought you might wish to allow for both VC and Graded.
    Graded papers need not a "dim dark red" to be on the "safe
    side". Graded paper are quite safe with a high level of
    lighting and that in a portion of the spectrum for
    which the eye is quite sensitive.

    I wonder at times if I'm the only one to have seen
    a well lite darkroom, one where Graded papers were
    used. I am more senior than most APUG members.
    I started using VC papers in 1958. Dan
     
  11. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    That's saying something for a VC paper
    level of lighting but no trick at all, even with
    bandpass filters, when using Graded. Dan
     
  12. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Indeed, I did make the point that this is only possible with safelights that give out a narrow spectrum of light - normal safelight filters with incandescent lamps behind them don't come anywhere close. The main thing I wanted to get across really is to repeat the oft given advice that whatever type you use, it's a good idea to test, rather than rely on guesswork or manufacturers recommendations which usually err a large way on the safe side. Of course some like it dim in the darkroom; you can always use a small red LED light to read notes if you want.

    BTW, a DUKA 50 like mine costs a fortune when new (http://www.novadarkroom.com/mjb_pop/index.html) but they (or similar ones) come up on the auction site from time to time - mine was 35 quid IIRC (sometimes I just love the rush to digital). When the lamp dies, I will replace the whole thing with LEDs as a new lamp costs around 150 quid. Outch!

    Cheers, Bob.