Darkroom Paint

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by ChrisW, May 16, 2006.

  1. ChrisW

    ChrisW Member

    Messages:
    121
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I am about to expand my darkroom and was wondering if there is a benefit to painting the walls and ceiling black. Also, should I use a black counter tops as well? I have been printing in a white painted darkroom for four years, but have no way of knowing of its effect on the image.

    Chris
     
  2. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

    Messages:
    1,691
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2004
    Location:
    Saratoga Spr
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Chris -

    The subject of darkroom wall color has been debated many times. The key point is that a darkroom is dark because there are no active light sources in it. I prefer white walls because they reflect and even out the light from the safelights, making it possible for me to actually see to get work done.

    In general, I think you want to try to manage any spurious light sources in the darkroom - leaks from the enlarger, etc. Part of that management may include painting the walls behind the enlarger a flat black. I chose to make the ceiling over the enlarger white and to point a safelight toward that ceiling to provide general illuimination around the enlarging station.
     
  3. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    4,124
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Jacksonville
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree that the walls can and should remain light. The area around the enlarger can be 'papered' with large sheets of black construction paper which has a very matte surface and reflects nothing. You retain a degree of flexibility that way as well if you should move your enlarger.
     
  4. Wally H

    Wally H Member

    Messages:
    160
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2004
    Location:
    NW Washingto
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    I use a matt black paint around the enlarger station(s), walls & ceiling. The rest of the darkroom neutral white (gloss for ease of cleaning).
     
  5. metod

    metod Member

    Messages:
    102
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Location:
    Montreal
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I painted the area around the enlarger flat black. Honestly, I can’t confirm that this has a positive effect on printing. But it gives me that insurance, that there is no light bouncing around. I even when a step further and made cardboard box to cover the enlarger head to eliminate the leaks coming mainly from the negative carrier. I use this box only at the final printing stage; otherwise it would get pretty hot in there.

    As an alternative to painting, I used to pin up the cheap black fabric around the enlarger, which is easy to take down if needed.
     
  6. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

    Messages:
    825
    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    Location:
    Salt Lake
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    My darkroom is white with the wall behind the enlarger black. in gang darkrooms (schools,art centers...) walls may be flat black to absorb stray light if someone opens a door, enlarger Etc. This helps keep everyones paper from being damaged if it is open at the time. Personally I think black rooms are claustrophobic and depressing. I can't stay in them long but I can work for hours in a well lit darkroom.
     
  7. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

    Messages:
    3,049
    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Location:
    Wisconsin, U
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Chris... do you like how your prints come out??? If you do, then you must know that the wall color can be whatever you like.

    Mine's a white matte paint to reduce any chance of reflection. I've never had any problem with the light walls.
     
  8. ChrisW

    ChrisW Member

    Messages:
    121
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I would prefer to keep the walls and ceiling white, as I have designed lightproof sliding window doors to allow outside light. The light leaks on the enlarger have been covered, but the reflection from the print itself is evident on the ceiling. It's not much, but my larger exposures can take up to 2 minutes.
     
  9. joneil

    joneil Member

    Messages:
    75
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2006
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    You know the old saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"?
    :smile:

    If you like your white walls, and it works for you, leave them alone. Personally I prefer flat black on everything myself - I find the darkness comforting - it's almost Zen like atmosphere in my darkroom, and helps me concentrate on the image at hand. But do what works for you.

    joe
     
  10. MonoAsia

    MonoAsia Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    May 15, 2006
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Hahaha, I just painted my darkroom all black even the floor. Funny har.
     
  11. titrisol

    titrisol Member

    Messages:
    1,671
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    Rotterdam
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    flat light-yellow paint worked for me...
    It is about the same color as the safelight :wink:
     
  12. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,047
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2004
    Location:
    Lehi, Utah
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    One thing to consider is when you view your prints, you don't want the paing color to affect the color of the print.

    I have had white in the past and it more accuratly reflects the halogen lighting and gives me a better idea of how the print will look hanging.
     
  13. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,255
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Jeanette makes an interesting point. If the matt white walls do not reflect light and she has experienced no problems then is there any basis for believing that painting the area behind the enlarger matt black helps?

    If the paper is taken out of the box/papersafe when the enlarger light is off and is then underneath the enlarger light when it is turned on so is never in the path of the stray light when it escapes from either the lightbox lever or the neg carrier,then does the light escaping into the "ether" of the room affect the paper anymore if the walls are non reflective white as opposed to non reflective black?

    On the other hand once it escapes from the neg carrier then surely the matt black paint cannot devour the light so to speak before it reaches the paper, were that paper to be in the light path, any more than it could if it were to be matt white. If the paper is not in the direct light path then I would have thought that whatever happens to the white light rays has the same effect on the paper irrespective of the colour of the wall and ceiling provided they are non refective.

    If you have matt white walls I suppose the real test is to place paper into the easel and expose without any attempt to block stray light from any source then do the same with all stray light blocked and in the dark to simulate matt black walls and ceiling and then compare prints.

    pentaxuser
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Bruce Schultz

    Bruce Schultz Member

    Messages:
    98
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2005
    Location:
    Lafayette, L
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Mine is plywood yellow.

    I haven't gotten around to painting, and don't know if I will. Does anyone think that dust is easier to control with painted surfaces? That would be about the only reason I'll paint at this point.
     
  16. argus

    argus Member

    Messages:
    2,146
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Another vote for light walls. Mine are lagoon blue. The room was not intended to be used as a darkroom when it was painted.
    Imagine your darkroom with the white lights on (drying, preparing printing, mounting...): black is so depressing!

    G
     
  17. Pragmatist

    Pragmatist Member

    Messages:
    601
    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Bath, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    18% Grey

    All the walls in the basement darkroom are concrete block and are painted with grey Dryloc, which has a matte finish. It's about the same shade as a grey card. No reflections, even around the enlarger, but lights up quite well with safelight or spots.
     
  18. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

    Messages:
    1,954
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2005
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I have white walls. I did paint the walls around the enlarger black because I have never been able to solve light leaks. The black paint does make a big difference.

    Also, I have used both black and white laminate countertops. Small bits seem to get lost in the black countertop and I did not like it in the end.

    Were I to build the next darkroom, I would keep everything white. I would use blue tack adhesive to put black fome-cor (cheap large sheets at Staples) on the walls and ceiling around the enlarger. I would use snow white laminate countertops. I would use semigloss paint. Many advocate matte paint to reduce reflection but I think that issue is minimal. Semigloss is much easier to clean and keep dust free. I would avoid colors because I think they bias print evaluation.

    Likewise, I have gray sheet laminate with no seams for flooring. While I am at it, I recommend 15/16 inch thick diamond plate nitrile foam anti-fatigue matting.
     
  19. ChrisW

    ChrisW Member

    Messages:
    121
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    As usual, I stand well advised. Thanks all. Flat white it is, with a grey wall and ceiling strip. White countertops as well.
     
  20. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

    Messages:
    1,272
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Location:
    Downers Grov
    Any color you wish is ok. White will spread the safelight light around best.

    Black is some benefit around the enlarger if it leaks light or you get a lot of reflection off the easel. I never found this to be a problem though.
     
  21. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,452
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Location:
    Rural NW MO
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I prefer light colors except around the enlargers. If all light leaks from the enlargers are blocked, almost everything could be white. The critical areas are the easel and, to a lesser extent, the developer tray. The rest of the darkroom can well be brighter for convenience and safety.
     
  22. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    9,549
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you are going to print color, then it is critical to paint the walls and ceiling around your enlarger a deep, matte black. This will prevent any stray light from the enlarger from reflecting off the wall and altering the color balance of your print in addition to affecting the density. If you are only printing black-and-white, it's a non-issue as long as any bright wall surface is not too close to the enlarger to throw random reflections onto your prints.
     
  23. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

    Messages:
    4,913
    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Aqu
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Dear Chris,

    Our last darkroom had flat black paint behind the 6x9cm enlargers. The current one is shiny white plastic. With good safelights and good baffling on the enlargers to stop light leaks it seems to make no difference.

    Take a look at the free module 'Our Darkrooms' in the Photo School at www.rogerandfrances.com to see the layouts.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  24. GRHazelton

    GRHazelton Subscriber

    Messages:
    767
    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    Location:
    Jonesboro, G
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Another vote for light walls and ceilings, save maybe around the enlarger. Also, if you can get plain white vinyl tile or sheet flooring, it makes dropped things much easier to find. A little flashlight with a red filter is a nice thing to have. A fatigue mat to stand on helps. Don't even think of carpeting; if you ever spill hypo you face disaster as it dries in the carpet and the powder floats around and....
     
  25. david b

    david b Member

    Messages:
    4,031
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2003
    Location:
    None of your
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I just finished painting my white flat white. The area around the enlarger will be flat black.
     
  26. unregistered

    unregistered Inactive

    Messages:
    290
    Joined:
    May 4, 2006
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Light to medium flat gray. Cuts down on the reflection a white paint can give, but is light enough to give you some brightness from the safelights.