Darkrooms not yet extinct

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by bluedog, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. bluedog

    bluedog Member

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    Yes, it is 2008 and I'm planning to build a darkroom. I think my best option is to build it in one corner of my double colour bond garage. However, this is some 20 metres away from the house and has no water or drainage.
    I plan on insulating the room as it gets quite warm in summer. I will only be doing B&W. I could probably run a temporary cold water line to the shed using garden fittings. Does anyone have a similar setup who can provide some feedback or comments on the practicality of working with no or cold running water only?
    Regards
    Greg
     
  2. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Member

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    g'day blue

    due to changes of address i've built myself 9 darkrooms over the years, they were of various sizes, corners of garages, walk in wardrobes, un-used rooms, partitioned off rooms, were ever i could find the space, none had running water

    the most important aspect for me has always been to have a permanent darkroom that is always ready to use, the least important thing has always been running water
     
  3. Alex Bishop-Thorpe

    Alex Bishop-Thorpe Member

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    My darkroom is an old cold-room from a pub, with the holes patched up and no refridgeration unit. No running water as of yet, and I walk back and forth to a garden tap with a jug to get what I need. I used a kettle to get my chemicals up to temperature. It's not perfect, but doesnt stop me getting work done...not fun work in winter though.
     
  4. david b

    david b Member

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    I've converted my two car garage into a 9x14' darkroom and then rest is a studio.

    I had to have water put in and that was the most expensive part of the conversion.
     
  5. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    My darkroom is above the garage - a separate building from the house. The water runs off the line that goes to the vegetable garden. I too use a kettle for warm or hot water. I have buckets under the sink that I carry to the house for dumping. The darkroom is insulated and is usable except when it stays below freezing for any length of time - though I might have to run the heater a good while before getting to work. It's the most luxurious darkroom I've ever had - I couldn't exactly swing a cat (why would I want to?) but someone can come in and watch, or be taught something, without having to stand on my feet, or do a do-si-do with me as I move from enlarger to trays; and it has running water, albeit cold.
    It is also very special in that when we bought this place my wonderful husband built the darkroom for me before he turned the carport below it into a garage for his vintage car. That's true love!!
     
  6. athanasius80

    athanasius80 Member

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    Whats the car?
     
  7. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    Hi Greg,
    My previous darkroom was a similar setup, a shed 20 m from the house with no running water. Just use a bucket with water when printing and bring them into the house for the proper wash later.
     
  8. tim_walls

    tim_walls Member

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    Hopefully I pick up the keys to my new house on Tuesday (fingers firmly crossed...) First job is starting work on the darkroom, which is going to be in the 'lean to' outside the kitchen. The wall of it is brick (good) and since the inner wall is the outside wall of the kitchen, I'm hoping getting water & drainage in shouldn't involve much more than a bit of drilling and some plumbing. The most expensive part of the job is going to be getting the roof replaced - transparent corrugated plastic doesn't strike me as the most useful ceiling for a darkroom :smile:.

    Getting me in some connections for hot, cold & drainage, and the roof, are the two jobs I'm going to get professionals in to do - the rest I'm hoping to do myself. Building a workbench/sink/print drying rack are going to be my first carpentry projects since leaving school so it could take me a while :smile:.

    The really good news is that hopefully once this nightmare of housemoving is actually over I might even be able to get back up to date with my horrifically late print exchange prints... (Hell, I might even have a chance to open the ones I've received... <sigh>. Take my advice: Don't move house, ever...)
     
  9. Marcust101

    Marcust101 Member

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    Greg,

    I have a Darkshed about 30ft from the house

    I've run a couple of hoses for drainage and cold water supply, all are hidden in the flower beds of the garden, just make sure your drainage drops constantly on it's way to a drain and you should be fine. A kettle and small heater are all else thats needed. The hose pipes make for a cheap solution

    good luck

    Marcus
     
  10. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    You have obviously thought about this yourself but I always recommend that people try to do their own plumbing. When they seem hesitant, I ask "what is the worst thing that can happen?". My answer is that you might get wet.

    I would do it all myself as I object strongley to paying someone to do something which I can do.

    Perhaps you can keep the transparent roof but dye it red!




    Steve.
     
  11. tim_walls

    tim_walls Member

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    You could be right... Having lived in flats all my life, I'm not quite used to the idea that the worst I can do isn't "flood the neighbours flat below" yet :smile:.

    I need to get builders in to do a bit of work on the main roof anyway (building regs approval and all that required there, so no way I'm DIYing it) so I'll get them to do the darkroom roof as a side job, but maybe I could look at doing the plumbing myself...
    I thought of that :D. There is a window between the kitchen and the darkroom which I'm going to make a temporary cover to. I was thinking of making an inner cover out of something like rubylith which I could use when doing B&W printing; that way I can wave through it at the wife when I need a coffee made :D.

    (Don't tell the missus I said that, though :wink:.)
     
  12. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    It doesn't particularly matter if you get wet, but if the building gets wet (and particularly if it gets wet slowly, over long periods of time, behind walls where no one can notice), you can get serious rotting issues happening, not to mention mold, which can cause serious health issues.

    I'm in the insurance business. Although this loss wasn't owner-contracting-related, we had a burst toilet in 1989 result in a $55,000 loss. Today that'd probably be closer to $100,000.

    Houses would last a lot longer and have a lot fewer health issues if we didn't need running water, but I sure can't imagine going without it.
     
  13. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    A 1952 Austin A40 Countryman, which he has owned for 41 years. I've attached an image of it, as there are very few of them left. Currently being kept company by a '75 TR6.
     

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  14. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Said with tongue in cheek no doubt and maybe a whole transparent roof and sun would be a bit much to make safe but I seem to recall Les McLean mentioning someone he knows/knew with a shop and darkroom in Selkirk, just over the Scottish border who had "red " glass in the darkroom so he could see if any customers entered his shop while he was in the darkroom.

    I got the impression that the glass wasn't just inside the shop but allowed sight of customers entering from the street. I wonder how this worked? Mind you, blazing sun and Selkirk are generally a contradiction in terms:D

    pentaxuser
     
  15. walter23

    walter23 Member

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    I'm looking forward to setting up a darkroom in a couple of weeks, too. Until now I've been renting a darkroom space but moving cities means I'm going to be setting up a less-elaborate darkroom in a storage space. Lots of room, but no water. Should be nice to have 24/7 easy access when I get the urge to print though. Driving downtown for a printing session just wasn't my favorite way to do things even though the space was fantastic.
     
  16. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Greg, last evening I travelled across town to purchase a darkroom sink, made out of plywood and suitably waterproofed.

    Well I can't get it into my existing darkroom by that much, as Max would say. So I reluctantly let it go.

    It is advertised in the Photographic Trader number 133 on page 18. The issue should hit the newsagents possibly this week, I'm a subscriber.

    It is 2440mm wide x 720mm long x 160mm high and has an extra 100mm splash back on the rear.

    It is on an MDF custom made cupboard, which will be going with the sink if you purchased it.

    The photographer selling it built it about 15 years ago. It would be perfect, and I mean perfect, for any darkroom.

    Even if I remove the door jam, I miss out by 50mm. Removing a wall to get this in, would incur the wrath of the missus. :D

    Mick.
     
  17. bluedog

    bluedog Member

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    Thanks Mick, I'll keep an eye out for it in Phototrader. Mmmm, I may have to revise my floor plan.
    Greg
     
  18. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    Steve:

    I totally agree with you, but:

    Twelve years ago, when I built my darkroom, I installed one of those cartridge water filters under the sink. I also had two water shutoffs, (one inside, one outside) because I just wasn’t all that convinced I was that good of a plumber. I would leave the water off unless I was actually working in the darkroom. For about 9 years, I didn’t do that much.

    For the last 3 years, though, I’ve been in a bit of a photo rebirth, and been in the room a lot more. I had even gotten brave enough to leave the water on all the time, and without incident.

    What I had not ever done, in 12 years, was change out the cartridge in the filter! I had tried once, and the housing was screwed on so tight, it didn’t wish to be removed, so I had left “well enough” alone. However, in recent months, I had noticed that the water had an odor when I first turned on a faucet, but just long enough for the pipes to flush out, and then it was fine. Ah hah! It’s that filter I reasoned.

    Well I was right, and this past weekend I managed to get the filter housing open and replaced the all but disintegrated yet stinking cartridge. No more smell, and everything looked good. I spent Saturday developing film, and Sunday evening printing.

    When I got home from work on Monday, I went out to the darkroom to look at the dry prints. The darkroom was silent, of course (no stereo, fans or wash water) except for a “drip-drip-drip-drip …”

    Oh S***!!! [​IMG]

    I reached under the sink to the shelf under the filter, and sure enough, it’s wet. Doesn’t seem too bad though. I immediately shut the water off (that’s the easy part …). So, I pull the stuff off of the shelf right around the filter. Not too bad. Then I look at the floor. OH S***!!! It’s standing water the entire length of the 8' sink underneath. The sheet vinyl is soaked and all crinkled up and all of the boxes and things on the floor under the sink (“long-term storage”) have wicked up all this water.

    As it turned out, all I lost is the sheet vinyl and a few cardboard boxes. One box had plastic trays and they’re not hurt, for instance, but the box is toast. (Wet, soggy toast.)

    Time to remodel. I’ve been thinking about making some configuration changes, maybe add a cabinet on the dry side, maybe get a bigger “dorm” refrigerator for film, move some faucets, re-do some electrical, etc. But, that was all too much trouble. Now that I've spent the last two evenings taking everything out of the darkroom, it is time. I won’t do all of the possible changes, but I’m going to give it some thought and do a few things. If only I could make the room bigger. If nothing else, the room will get a good cleaning! :tongue:

    (and the filter will NOT be re-installed)
     
  19. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I too use the bucket technique. It works just fine.

    David.
     
  20. MikeM1977

    MikeM1977 Member

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    My darkroom is the basement utility/laundry/furnace room. I didn't build anything and keep things simple. Just blacked out the windows and put up a safelight. I use a single tray when making a single print. No special sink...just the utility sink. No special washer. Just running water in a tray. If I'm feeling lucky, I might wash 2 RC prints at a time (always 1 FB print at a time).
     
  21. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    It can be done. I do not have running water in my printing area. I have to move prints to my bathroom to wash. It is not ideal, and it is a bit of a hassle, but works fine. I also process film in the bathroom.

    When I was in Yellowstone one summer, I bootlegged a darkroom in my quarters. I held prints in a tray until morning, and washed everything in the shower the next day.

    My biggest problem is that I cannot easily print during the day, due to light leaks. I can place something in front of the leaky sliding door if I *need* to print during the day, but it has to be something big, and has to be moved every time I go out to the bathroom to wash prints.

    So, I would worry more about getting everything light tight more than being away from running water. Also, it helps if you rent, so you are not paying for all the water you will use! :wink:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 29, 2008
  22. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    I have built several over the last 32 years and a few had garden hoses hooked to the darkroom sink that I would unroll and connect to the house water and a drain pipe I would screw together and run to the laundry room floor drain when in use. I took a few extra minutes to set up and take down but it worked well.
     
  23. TheDreadPirateRobins

    TheDreadPirateRobins Member

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    I am glad to have found this thread. Both my wife and I miss darkroom B/W printing, which we did at various times before we had children.

    Well, we own our own home now, and we have a detached garage, and we're thinking of building the darkroom into that building, in part because we don't want to risk any chemical contamination of our house.

    I think we're going to do the garden hose trick for plumbing, too. I could probably even make a sump for drainage, but I need to do a little more research on whether I really want photography chemicals hitting a sump, even if it is back behind my garage and not in the vegetable garden.
     
  24. tim_walls

    tim_walls Member

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    Well the good news on my new darkroom is that having got the house (yay!) it turns out after pulling up a wooden cover I already have cold water and a drain in the area I'm planning for darkroom :smile:. (Being a 'lean-to', one wall used to be an outside wall - so I've found the old garden tap & drain.)

    Anyone have any recommendations on a small electric water heater? I do a fair bit of E6, so one which can be carefully controlled temperature wise would be good...