Darkroom wall and ceiling color

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by spb3321, Jul 21, 2010.

  1. spb3321

    spb3321 Member

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    I am in the process of building a darkroom for B&W and I am getting to the point where I'm thinking about wall and ceiling colors. I am thinking about painting the wall behind the enlarger flat black. I'm thinking about painting the opposite wall, with the sink a medium gray (a few shades lighter than battleship gray). I have a Thomas safelight that will be turned off while working with the enlarger. I also have two other Kodak bullet type safelights that will be used constantly. I have not decided on a color for the ceiling. I have read comments on this subject in the past but I don't recall where. Any feedback would be appreciated.
     
  2. Richard Wasserman

    Richard Wasserman Member

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    Flat black is a good idea behind the enlarger, I would paint everything else, walls and ceiling, white. Bounce the safelight around and you'll be much happier.
     
  3. Jon Butler

    Jon Butler Subscriber

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    All over matt white in my darkroom, I like white. It makes no odds if you haven't got light leaks.
    Also white helps a low power safelight give better illumination.
    JON.
     
  4. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    All black, obviously, makes no sense. The rest depends a lot on what you're trying to achieve:

    1. Safest
    flat black around the enlarger, everything else yellow or better orange

    2. Most Comfortable
    flat black around the enlarger, everything else white

    Don't forget to attack the source of unwanted light before you decide how to eliminate what you cannot prevent. In other words, light-tight doors, windows, enlarger, good safelights. Test your safelight condition!

    http://www.waybeyondmonochrome.com/WBM2/TOC_files/SafelightTestEd2.pdf

    By the way, I'm not a big fan of the Thomas safelight. It bothers me to have a safelight in the middle of the room that bounces the light off the center of the ceiling. I'm always working in my own shadow that way. I like to have small safelight right above where I need them, instead.
     

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  5. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    A background color that provides contrast against other objects in the room is safer to move around in when it's dark. If the walls are too dark you will have a harder time picking out objects in your way as you walk or move around. In the darkroom, you are essentially moving around in the shadows.

    Even if you don't use white, any color that is somewhat lighter than the things in the area will make it easier to move around in those shadows.
     
  6. jmcd

    jmcd Member

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    I went with flat black all around the enlarger, some more flat black walls that I will probably paint white (low priority), white walls, and ceiling.

    I know a fellow who painted his whole darkroom safe yellow, but the environment made him physically nauseous, so he went to flat black around the enlarger, and the rest white.

    On the paint around my sink I topcoated the flat paint with Varathane Diamond acrylic, so that it is easy to clean.
     
  7. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Wasn't there a very long involved thread about this very thing in the recent past.
     
  8. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    One?
     
  9. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    It's right next to the ones about the best developers, best paper, best film, and "is it ok to put my film through carry-on AP scanners".

    As for the topic, in my experience black and grey are functional in their way, but light colors or white make life in the darkroom much easier.
    I have a mixture of white painted walls and unpainted wood walls and ceiling. During the next remodel/revision I'll do black around the enlarger, and some light color elsewhere.
    Around the sink and wet areas, a color that allows fixer spots to show up is nice (i.e. not white).
    White or light floors are nice too, so that you can position negs in the carrier without holding it over your head, or resorting to the white lights.
     
  10. fotch

    fotch Member

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    All black is safest and probably overkill in most cases. I like Ralph's suggestion the best. His photo showing the black cloth material around the enlarger is really a very good idea.

    I plan to use a light gray floor, white ceiling, black around enlargers, yellow on other walls. Individual safe lights located where their light is needed.

    The Thomas Duplex safelight is interesting but working in the shadows while the thing is humming would grow old very quickly.
     
  11. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    I use semi-gloss white with local black panels, and several safelights (independently switchable). Since I use the space for toning in white light and some other white light tasks, it makes sense to have good light. Do not have a white bench top, though.

    Ultimately, it is your own space, and you can paint it any colour combination you like :cool:
     
  12. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    I have peg board behind the enlarger. The remainder is Kodak yellow.
     
  13. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    In 2008 I attended a John Sexton workshop and he made us all think much more about safelights than any of us probably ever had before, which was quite helpful. We discussed proper safelight testing and different types of safelights. Thomas safelights were always way out of my price range and I had always assumed they were the "best", but Mr. Sexton's opinion was that in fact they are only really safe with the vanes closed down pretty far, so in fact most people with those great Thomas safelights blasting away in their brightly lit darkrooms are likely fogging their paper even if they don't realize it. That made me feel alot better about my little 15w Kodak unit.
     
  14. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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  15. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    A couple of things to consider:

    1) Are you likely to be working with anyone else in this darkroom? Group darkrooms involve additional concerns, and most likely more flat black paint :smile:;
    2) At least part of the time, you will be working in your darkroom with all the lights (not just the safelight) turned on. So it doesn't hurt to use colours and/or tones that are pleasant in the light too;
    3) Try to choose paint or other surface materials that are durable and easy to clean; and
    4) Painting an appropriate area in magnetic paint can be useful, if you like to have a place to post notes, etc.

    I would also look for low VOC paints, if you want to use your darkroom soon after painting.
     
  16. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    The thing that bothers me about the Thomas safe lights is that they use a sodium vapor lamp, and these lamps are not particularly well suited to frequent cycling. Well, that and the fact that the bulb costs $120 to replace.:surprised:. As for the paint color, I used an semi-matte off white for everything except the walls closest to the enlarger. These are flat black to mitigate the effects of any light leaks from the enlarger. For safelights, I have a few of the Kodak beehives fitted with 15w lamps and red filters, all wired to turn off when the enlarger's lamp is switched on.
     
  17. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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