Darkroom - low ceiling

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by delphine, Jan 15, 2012.

  1. delphine

    delphine Member

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    Hi all,

    I wondered whether any of you, set up a darkroom with low ceiling, and how you dealt with the ceiling height as I am trying to assess whether I could move my darkroom in my loft.

    I have a LPL 7700 with a standard column heigh at 1.1m and a DeVere 504 with Ilford 500 head. I am not sure about the column height of the DeVere, I'd say about 1.2m plus the height of the Ilford 500 head. I am having a conundrum as to how this would work out as I have low ceiling in the loft and the highest point is about 1.9m at the moment, slightly less when the isolation of the ceiling will be done. Small detail :smile:

    Any ideas? is it a no hope plan?

    Delphine
     
  2. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    I have a similar problem with one of my Durst enlargers - The room has a ceiling height of (approximately) 2000mm and I need a little bit more. A custom made bench with a lower worktop height or a nut'n'bolt to limit the travel on the head are the only practical solutions.

    Punching holes in the ceiling is not an option.
     
  3. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    I have a LPL 7700 in an under the stairs cupboard with sloping ceiling. My solution is to place the enlarger lower in order to not hit the roof. Mine is now so low I sit cross legged on the floor when I print.
     
  4. Grainy

    Grainy Member

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    I sit or kneel when I print.

    However, I will build some kind of extra baseboard so I can stand when making small prints and remove it when making larger prints.

    IMG-0101.jpg
     
  5. J Rollinger

    J Rollinger Member

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    I also had a height issue when i built my darkroom. I decided to frame and drywall an opening into the ceiling joist so the head can get more height and also i put safe lights inside cans in the ceiling, it all worked out fine for me.
     

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  6. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    In one of his books, David Vestal had a photograph of his darkroom. The room was designed with a suspended ceiling, and the tiles above the enlarger had been removed so that the column could protrude through the hole into the space above the ceiling.

    I'm very familiar with this problem. I've built three darkrooms, and have had that problem is all three.

    Darkroom 1 was in a tiny upstairs space with a sloped ceiling. My enlarger sat on an old typewriter table (you have to be over 50 to know typewriters were). The bad news was that the typewriter table was so low that I sometimes had to get on my knees to use a grain focuser. The good news was that because the typewriter table was so low, my enlarger would fit under the sloped ceiling - provided I kept it on the right side of the room.

    Darkroom 2 was in a basement with a 7' ceiling. When I designed that darkroom, I opted to have kitchen-counter-height worktables and a wall-mounted enlarger, but I designed the enlarger area with a shelf so that I could lower the baseboard under the enlarger rather than raise the enlarger head to get greater enlargements.

    Darkroom 3 (the present space) is also in a basement, . The floor joists are a full 8' above the floor, but there is a special support beam in the darkroom area. Rather than frame around the support beam, I opted for a suspended ceiling immediately below the beam. That was fine for the general space, but it created a problem for the enlarger. The enlarger station to be in a corner, and I was able to frame in an area immediately above the enlarger so that area has a full height ceiling. I also make the enlarger station a bit lower than the counters on either side to get more effective column height. The result is that there is enough room to run the head all the way to the top of the column on my Omega DII.
     
  7. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    I built a low table for the enlargers. I used to have a platform that I set on the table to use for smaller prints. The got out of square and I haven't engineered anything better yet. So now I kneel to focus and compose. It's not too bad, but after a long day in there I resolve to figure out a good solution so I can stand for most prints.
     
  8. semi-ambivalent

    semi-ambivalent Subscriber

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    J,

    Great B&A pictures! I'm building a darkroom myself. The drywall has been a slog; waiting for the tape to dry, the dust from sanding and I'm just not as young as I was when I was young. At times it is disheartening and I feel like I'm never going to get past it. But it is almost done and, for a basement darkroom, pretty damn good. The painting and all the rest will be cake in comparison. I too cut a space up into a joist bay. That gained me seven inches so I'm still going with a table with a drop surface.

    Thanks again for the images, they were a pep talk.

    s-a
     
  9. JohnMeadows

    JohnMeadows Subscriber

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    I have a low ceiling darkroom, and an Omega D2 enlarger. I have to kneel to use my grain focuser. Seems ironically appropriate. :smile:
     
  10. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    You have plenty of room :smile: Think of the poor guy with the Devere 8x10 enlarger that can't even put the thing vertical without the column scraping the ceiling, let alone raise the head.
     
  11. youngrichard

    youngrichard Member

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    No one has mentioned wide-angle lenses yet. I can't quite get a 20 x 16 from a 35 mm neg because of ceiling height in my basement. My bench is pretty solid and I don't fancy making a drop table, especially as I have 2 enlargers. Of course the size of the print depends on the distance between the lens and the column; a wide angle lens won't get you up to 24 x 20 if the max distance from lens to column is only just over 8 inches.
    But wide angle lenses don't necessarily solve the problem because edge fall-off becomes of increasing significance as the print gets larger, and the lens is wider-angled than recommended for the neg size.
    I love autofocus which I have on both my enlargers, a Durst DA900 and a Focomat 11c. The Focomat lens fittings are quirky and not easily interchangeable, but for 20 x 16s I use a 45 mm Rodenstock Apo lens in the Durst. I lose autofocus but for making 20 x 16s that is not a problem as I typically make only one 20 x 16 in a session so once focus is locked that's it for the evening.
    I find if I position the easel so that edge fall-off is equally distributed and then manoeuvre the negative so that the projected image is centralised to the easel ie using the light meter with no negative put max illumination in the centre of the easel and equalise the light intensity at each corner, and only then manoeuvre the negative so that the desired image is contained in the easel borders, the visual effect of light fall-of may not be noticeable. It's surprising what a difference this can make. If it is still noticeable a little dodging of the centre or burning of the edges is not too difficult.
    Richard
     
  12. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I have an Omega D6 (extended column) with an Ilfospeed Multigrade 400 head. I have it and with its large baseboard on a wheeled cart that is 21"/53cm high. The cart is assembled from components designed for adjustable kitchen shelving.

    That height is critical, because it allows me to wheel the cart plus enlarger (currently 200cm high) through the door to our bathroom. The adjustable nature of the shelving makes it simple to adjust the cart's height to whatever is necessary.

    I also have a table that stands 36"/90cm high. It slides over the cart and baseboard - in fact it actually is supported by the baseboard, as its lowest shelf rests directly on the baseboard. Most of my prints are done using the table. The relative dimensions are such that I routinely do 11x14 prints using the table, and can usually do 16x20. If I were to print larger, I would just pull the table away and put my easel on the baseboard.

    I have to be careful with alignment issues. If the table wasn't directly supported by the baseboard, most likely I would have to be even more careful.

    The enlarger plus baseboard is quite heavy, so the cart is quite heavy duty. I expect that the cart plus enlarger plus baseboard weighs all together in excess of 100 kg/220 lbs.

    Here is a link to a cart similar to mine - just imagine it with two shelves only, and just 21"/53cm high. The website is for Storables - a USA company that I bought my shelf components from: http://www.storables.com/rolling-supply-cart.html
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 15, 2012
  13. Mark_S

    Mark_S Member

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    My last darkroom was in a basement with a low ceiling. I built a low table to put the enlarger on, and a platform which sat on the baseboard so that for most normal enlargements my 'baseboard' was at about normal height, when I wanted to do larger prints, I would take away the platform and use the actual baseboard, which was lower than optimal for comfort, but it worked...
     
  14. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

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    I bought a low profile lamphouse (Aristo VCL4500) which has given me a bit more enlarger height. I still can't get it to its full height. I have gone the wide angle enlarger lens route also.
     
  15. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear Dephine,

    I suggest a low stool on rollers? Clearly not as comfortable, but it would allow the entire works to be built low to the floor and they are not very expensive.

    Neal Wydra
     
  16. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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  17. mdarnton

    mdarnton Member

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    In my basement darkroom, I built a stand for the enlarger (D2V) that would enable it to extend completely on its column to the highest possible height, which put the baseboard uncomfortably low. Then I built a four-sided (top, back, sides) box of plywood to boost the easel up to a comfortable height for my normal work. When I needed more, it was easy to pull off the booster and use the baseboard. It turned out to be nice to have the space, too--that's where I kept my paper safe, for instance.

    I was able to make the easel even higher than it would be in a normal darkroom, which was great for focusing, and my back!
     
  18. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I had friend who built her darkroom in a travel trailer, she had Omega D2 which her father converted by laying it on it side and shooting to the wall. She was able to make 16X29s, did not have a hot water supply which was a problem in the winter, even on jacks rocked in the wind.
     
  19. delphine

    delphine Member

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    Thank you all for a wide array of suggestions: wide angle lenses, low stool, side projection and various options of height adjustment of the easel. A lot of answers that really show the dedication of some of you... doing side projection in a rocking trailer is quite admirable, and so are those of you who manage to print sat cross legged.

    I measured the Devere + head, 1.5m, ough, and max ceiling height would possibly be at 1.75m after isolation. As I don't want to rough it on the floor, I won't pursue with my plans to move the precious to the loft though I understand that some of you would point out that the ceiling is high enough :smile:

    Thank you all for the input provided, greatly appreciated.

    Best

    Delphine

    PS: I am still laughing at it. The loft is still not finished. My surveyor concerned over security repeated several times that I have to remain aware of the loft hatch when going upstairs. My response was, no problem at all, what could happen?
    Seeing the photo of the stool on roller, I had suddenly visions of me, sat on the stool, falling through the loft hatch after an impetuous push of the foot lol
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 18, 2012
  20. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I hope that you can find another use for the attic space, and that you have alternate plans for darkroom space.

    My own darkroom has a low ceiling, to the point that if I stand up straight I will hurt myself. With a loud bang! :smile:
     
  21. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    Built a low table and used a short bar stool for printing. I actually like to sit when I print, I got a normal sized ceiling later on but kept the work table I built for the enlarger.
     
  22. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    Bear in mind that what Thomas calls a low ceiling, most of us would call spacious. :smile: My low ceiling, combined with a low projection stage (and my relatively low stature) work out quite nicely.

    If you don't let frustrations slow you down, you will find a solution that fits your particular needs.