Darkroom's on a roll.....

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

  1. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Well, this is finally it!!!

    Tonight I pick up a secondhand (but in very good condition) Agfa Varioscope 60 enlarger, I'm sure many of you can understand my excitement. To others I am surely a little 'off the planet' :D

    There is also a print washer and print dryer for me to consider, and other stuff. but I'm not sure how important it may be yet.

    Our back yard has 4 aussie sheds and my husband has actually offered to knock down 3 sheds and build me a big one. 1/2 is to house my new darkroom (size 4mx3m) and the other 1/2 to be used for mat cutting, framing, etc... and he is interested in doing my framing. What a man!

    Of course this is a big project so Christmas is the desired deadline.

    In the meantime, from tonight I'll have my enlarger and instead of keeping it on a pedestal in my loungeroom for the next 4 months I'm taking over a room in the house and will use it as a makeshift darkroom. The bathroom is right next door so that's where the water will be coming from.

    Any tips you may have to setting up a temporary darkroom would be greatly appreciated, which will in the meantime will teach me what I need/want in my proper darkroom. If designing a darkroom is anything like rearranging furniture in my home, which I do consistently - then I'm in for a real treat!!! lol

    Thanks very much everyone, I appreciate your constructive input!
    With kind regards, Nicole
     
  2. argus

    argus Member

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    Hi Nicole,

    using a temporary darkroom will be a good test for arranging things in your final (?) darkroom.
    Think about a convenient workflow and if all goes well, you'll have plenty of do's and don'ts for the new darkroom.

    I am now in my second DR setup since I started 8 months ago and it is still not final. Got to move out some furniture first and then I can install a real sink! :smile:

    G
     
  3. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    Hi Nicole,

    Congratulations on making the steps towards a darkroom. You're lucky to have four sheds to use. My current darkroom in our rented house is half a shed. Buy black plastic sheeting from a hardware shop and gaffa tape from Dick Smith's and you will be able to cut out any pesky light leaks.

    Greetings from your part of the world (until tomorrow anyway, in Perth for business).
    Regards,
    Kevin
     
  4. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    Hi Nicole,

    I have just this week set up my own temporary DR using my kitchen. I have a small 'galley' style kitchen where counters, hob and sink are all along one wall. This led to me setting up the enlarger at the far left and the trays over the top of the hob (on a board) to the sink, the safelight goes on top of the cupboards. I chose the kitchen because it is the easies room to blackout and has power points and running water.
    The most difficult thing I've found is setting up temporary blackouts without ruining my window or door frames. I decided the best way to go was to work at night and fix up the blackout material with a little duct tape.

    Hope you have as much fun as I'm having!

    Andy.
     
  5. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    ever since I killed my dust issues I've enjoyed my darkroom more than ever. All negs crystal clean and prints clean, I have not had to spot a single print yet (and spotting is something I hate with a passion). My cure was running a mechanical hepa filter 24x7, and during darkroom work I now have hepa filtered air forced into the room, the air flow is designed so it pushes out any fumes which are infront of me out through a light tight vent. When the fan is turned on if there is any dust in the room (flashlight beam in the dark test) it's pushed out in about 5 minutes.
     
  6. PeterDendrinos

    PeterDendrinos Member

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    What is an "aussie shed"?

    Pete
     
  7. Glenn Mathison

    Glenn Mathison Member

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    Good luck with it Nicole, I'm sure you will not look back. I'd share with you my darkroom design but I'd hear the laughing from here. I just have a big bench 700mm x 2 m and everything sits on that. The bench shares the room with my computer desk and bookcases, and it's all in the granny flat. Luckily I have a laundry just in the next room of the granny flat so running water is easy to access.

    I'll let you describe the aussie shed to Pete as there are a number of different types and I'd likely get it wrong.

    Glenn
     
  8. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I'm very excited for you, Nicole! Building a home darkroom was the best decision I ever made. Now, if I could only get my hubby to do the matting and framing! That sounds like a great deal! Good luck!
     
  9. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Aussie shed... isn't that when you put the shed in your bathtub ?

    I'm not sure, Peter: it's a long way from michigan.
     
  10. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Member

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    I was a renter for most of my life and my darkrooms were whatever space I could find that could be made light tight without any alterations/damage to the structure.

    One of the easiest and cheapest blackout materials is a sandwich of aluminum foil and builder's black plastic on both sides. Fold a French seam in the Al foil to make wider pieces. I have often made a frame (1x1" or 1/2x1/2") to fit inside the trim of a window and cover the frame with this blackout material. To seal out the last bit of light, tape the joint with electrical tape ("88", which happens to be almost totally lightproof).

    I always made provisions for water and drain in the darkroom. Often I can run temporary lines up from the basement by disconnecting a cold air return duct and running my lines thru the existing hole. An electrical feed can also be run up thru the same opening.

    I made my temporary darkroom table so it can be moved easily and it is fitted with a salvaged sink.

    I haven't figured out how to post thumbnails, but here's my present semi-permanent darkroom http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v181/calamityjanecanary/Darkroom2.jpg

    I am presently in the process of moving my 10x12 semi-permanent darkroom to the basement. In my case, it is easier to blackout the entire basement than a part of it so I will have a space about 16x32 feet. I am making my new darkroom furniture modular so that I can shift things around as my photographic needs change. Of course, in an unfinished basement it is very easy for the home handi-woman to add or move electrical boxes, water taps, etc.

    After 35 years of temporary darkrooms I am VERY MUCH looking forward to having such a huge open space to equip, to be able to shift and move whatever I want wherever I want it!

    Good luck with the temporary. Just think what a thrill it will be when you can move into your very own dedicated darkroom!
     
  11. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Nicole, if the price is reasonable and the unit is an efficient one I would stongly urge you to get the print washer.

    Agfa made a number of good enlargers. Is this unit auto-focus? Whether it is or not please make sure that your enlarging lenses are first rate. If you replace an auto focus enlarging lens with a different lens it may no longer give as good a performance in an auto-focus as the original and require touch up focus with a magnifier. For an auto-focus enlarger to work most reliably, glass carriers are highly recommended. Actually, glass carriers are a big optical plus for any negatives.

    If you send me a private email with your address I will mail you a Kodak book on darkroom construction.
     
  12. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Nicole: this is great news.

    If you've got some direct sunlight hitting the windows, you can put some foam board insulation ( which is covered in reflective foil ) in the window. Besides keeping some heat out of the room, direct sun CAN make black plastic sorta glow. This might not be necessary, and it can change your neighbor's life style, but it can help a darkroom.

    You can experiment with work counter heights. You really don't want to be bending over very much.

    What size prints will you make ? Without running water, you probably find that lots of trays make darkroom life pleasant. You, and everybody else here, is very neat in the darkroom, but I spill stuff. So I use minimal volume solutions, and exchange them regularly. Then I never spill much. And I use big tray to hold the working trays. And I put paper towel in the bottom the the big trays so spilled solutions don't slosh around.

    Watch where the enlarger throws light. Painting the area above and around the enlarger is a last resort, but keeping the enlarger well away from the walls help minimize reflections onto the paper. A couple 'flags' or boards place around the developer tray will let you expose and develop at the same time.

    The most important things are music, and a place to put the liquid refreshment.

    Brett Weston's darkroom let him open the doors and windows ( printing at night, right ? ) and look at the stars. I think that's sort of an ideal.

    have fun

    df
     
  13. Bighead

    Bighead Member

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    Right on Nicole.... I have some projects coming to an end and I am not taking a Fall class, so, I will be W/O a darkroom until after Christmas. That is, of course, unless I continue building my own... So, thanks for the motivation.
     
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  15. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    That's it!!! That's my darkroom!!! We have mild temperatures in winter and hot summer nights. Printing at night with doors open, a glass of really nice Australian wine, good music (Norah Jones, Pete Murray, Jack Johnson to name just a few of my favourites) and a comfy chair whilst star gazing!!! Preferably with a telescope. :D

    Some really great ideas here, thank you very much everyone! Keep 'em coming!
    Cheers, Nicole
     
  16. blaze-on

    blaze-on Member

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    AWRIGHT Girl!

    Good for you...I'm building my first as a "shed" and posted this update http://www.apug.org/forums/showthread.php?t=18131 last weekend...pics of my plans and current state are posted...As I shoot LF, I am putting a vac system (hose in wall, shop vac ouside-contained) to clean holders and keep enlarger clean.

    I may add the hepa filter as Sean has done too.

    Solar water heater and about nine feet height.

    Now if I could only find an able bodied girlfriend to build the rest of it...

    Keep us posted. Best. Matt
     
  17. Carol

    Carol Member

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    Oh Nicole you are going to have so much fun. I bet you can't wait to crank up the enlarger. Enjoy.
     
  18. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Well I just got home a short while ago with boxes of all this 'stuff'!!!

    Hi Claire, yes I got the Agfa print washer and print dryer thown in as well.

    The unit is aparantly auto-focus and comes with glass carriers. The enlarger accepts all negs up to 6x6 or 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 and sectional enlargements from 9x12cm sheet films. It comes with the colour head.

    The lenses are Agfa Color - Magnolar II 1:4.5/105 and 60 with Rodenstock lens caps. And an in perfect condition 10x12 masking frame.

    I also got 3 bulk film rollers (french, German and Italian ones), Weston Master III light meter, Harmony exposure meter, Seconic 21 exposure meter, dev tanks, a Slik tripod, Cibachrome developing drum and something that could possibly be a densitometer? You connect it to the enlarger and darkroom lamp - Lightmaster. An old timer for the enlarger (non digital)

    Everything comes with it's original instruction booklets in both German and English.

    Off to a good start I think. :D
     
  19. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Hi Pete, as Glenn said there are so many varieties here in Australia. Ours are a bit clapped out, over 40 years old, built of asbestos (that has to go!!!) and corrigated iron. So far all four of them are housing my husbands.... stuff! :smile: Work tools, buckets, pieces of timber for 'one day just in case...' and actually, they are so full I have no idea what else is in them. Usually riddled with red-back spiders (EEK!), fold up chairs for watching the kids either play cricket down the park all day or watching the footy, plenty of eskies, umbrellas and sun-shades for the beach, boogie boards, surf boards, scateboards, scooters, bikes, balls, lawnmower, wippersnippers, ladders .... that kind of stuff. And they're great for attaching basketball and netball hoops to. :smile:

    Many homes in Australia usually have one shed which come in many different sizes to suit the home and property. We inherited four sheds of various sizes when we bought the house 3 years ago. One shed is on old wood shed for the open fireplace. Basically, put all four sheds together and you have the size of our house. I think the previous owners had their priorities all back-to-front! :D So, my hubby has been building a nice big Australian varandah around the house for me and now I'm so happy about his next project - my shed. And this time it's going to be clad in timber. And big opening doors for night time open air printing! :D

    The past 2 years have been very hard for me in many ways so this is such a beautiful gift which I'm most grateful for.
     
  20. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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  21. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Sean, this sounds great! Have you got a photo handy?

    Sometimes I'm certain I must be living in the middle of the Nullabor Plains (desert!) with the amount of dust that settles in our house every day!!!

     
  22. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Kevin, next time you're in town give us a hoi! I managed to meet up with Graeme Hird (Kalgoorlie) before. I'm usually tearing between shoots, framers, sporting events, schools, home, ... but we can always try.


     
  23. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Okay, that's five posts in a row from Nicole on this thread!

    I'm starting to get the impression that you may be a tad excited about this acquisition... ...or am I wrong?! :wink:

    Seriously, excellent news! I'm really thrilled for you.

    I won't attempt to advise you on darkroom setup; there are far better sources than myself for your information. Just promise to post some of your first prints in the galleries!

    All the best,

    Frank
     
  24. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    Well it wasn't easy to get it all going. The main thing was sealing the entire room 100%. Air is pushed into the room from one side and the only place it can get out is the light tight vent on the other side. We have bad moisture problems here in the winter so I had a "moisture master" system installed in the house. It sucks dry air from the roof cavity, filters it, heats it, and pushes it into the house. When I saw how much air it could push I had the guy split it and run one vent to the darkroom (best move I ever made). It sure does move some air and I've found the filter on it works great. I can also have a 16x20 tray of selenium toner wide open and not smell a thing. I believe you can buy just the fan and filter assembly for about $700NZ http://www.moisturemaster.co.nz
    I also have sheet rubber and vinyl flooring, and freshly painted and sealed walls. I keep everything in cupboards and rubbermaid storage bins to minimize places where dust can collect. It's not cheap, and it's a lot of work to make a dust free darkroom but I find it really paying off now.
     
  25. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    Congrats, Nicole! :D

    I know just how you feel! It's really exciting to get everything & anticipate setting it up & using it.

    Don't be surprised if you get a wee bit "antsy" about using it the first time... I'd say that's pretty normal... a little bit of stage fright! :wink: Just ignore it!

    I love my darkroom and I know you're gonna have a blast in yours! :smile:
     
  26. roteague

    roteague Member

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    No Mark Bunting? lol :D