How Dark does a darkroom have to be?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by kjsphoto, Dec 9, 2004.

  1. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,322
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2004
    Shooter:
    Sub 35mm
    I have a little bit of light coming in from the bottom of the door but the sides and top look pretty good except for a small crack at the top left corner.

    Thanks,

    Kev
     
  2. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    9,284
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Location:
    Bergen, Norw
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I have light all round the door, and some light coming through my improvised window blackout cover. I develop sheet film by inspection without a safelight - my eyes are dark-adapted halfway through the development, which is just when it's getting useful to see the negative.

    Yet I have never had any problem with fogging - not even with HP5. Does that answer your question?
     
  3. jss

    jss Member

    Messages:
    200
    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2004
    Location:
    San Francisc
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    this is how my bathroom/darkroom is. i try to keep my body between the paper and the door, just to block out any extra light like that. i remember that paper is rated asa 3 or 6, something pretty slow, so i dont let a little extra light bother me.
     
  4. ann

    ann Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,910
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    Shooter:
    35mm
    remember that light does not bend, but it does reflect, so as long as you don't drop the film right in front of the door you should be alright.
     
  5. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,702
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2002
    Location:
    Wine country
    Throw a towel on the floor to cover the crack.

    Michael
     
  6. Neil Souch

    Neil Souch Subscriber

    Messages:
    342
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2004
    Location:
    West Cornwal
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Kev,
    Be safe and not sorry. Put a black curtain across your door and a sausage thingy along the base of the door. I had the same problem and the above solutions stoped all chinks of light coming in around the door. OK, you may get away with it - but why take the risk?

    Cheers,
    Neil.
     
  7. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,330
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2002
    Location:
    Calgary AB,
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    If after 10 minutes in your darkroom you can see things with out your safelight on, then it's not dark enough. Now of course maybe you "see things" in broad daylight, so I can't help there. No, shut up, I'm talking here, get off my keyboard .......
     
  8. jss

    jss Member

    Messages:
    200
    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2004
    Location:
    San Francisc
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    i guess it comes down to how purist you are. :smile:
     
  9. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,988
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2002
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm almost finished lightproofing my door. I put extra wide door stops all the way around and stapled black fleece around it, seals up great..
     
  10. DeanC

    DeanC Member

    Messages:
    342
    Joined:
    May 28, 2004
    Location:
    Mill Valley,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Depends on what you're doing...

    Developing film in trays? You really want it pretty close to totally dark.

    Printing B&W with an enlarger? You want it pretty dark, but some light around the door is probably no sweat. I've been in several group darkrooms that don't even have doors, just black, S-shaped entryways.

    Contact printing Azo? You're probably okay as long as you don't actually turn the lights on. :smile:

    Dean
     
  11. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

    Messages:
    921
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2003
    Location:
    Santa Barbar
    Don't forget that film and paper have reciprocity failure and thresholds, so a little bit of light is not seen by these materials. Unless you are getting a direct reflection, you are okay. If you need it darker, close you eyes.
     
  12. eric

    eric Member

    Messages:
    1,586
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Unless you are doing lots and lots of film in trays and light is hitting directly...you'll be fine. Paper ISO is sooooooo slow anyway. Most B&W commercial darkrooms I've been to don't even have a door, just something 'nuf to keep direct light from coming into it.
     
  13. Aggie

    Aggie Member

    Messages:
    4,925
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2003
    Location:
    So. Utah
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Is this darkroom you built a seperate building? If it is and you see daylight at the bottom, just remember when the wind is blowing, dust or snow at your elevation will be coming in that crack. I would do like Sean did.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

    Messages:
    3,042
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Daft as it sounds the more natural light I can keep out of a darkroom, the easier I can see using the safelight. I find when there are even small leaks the room doesn't seem as evenly illuminated by the safelight.
     
  16. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Member

    Messages:
    2,718
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2004
    Location:
    Vegas/myster
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    how dark does a darkroom have to be

    Put a sheet of photo paper face up in your darkroom and place some coins on the paper. After five or so minutes develope the paper.
     
  17. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

    Messages:
    3,049
    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Location:
    Wisconsin, U
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree with you, Tony! I want it DARK in my darkroom...otherwise wouldn't it be a sorta-darkroom??? Or a mostly-darkroom??? :D

    Those cloth tube thing-ys used to keep drafts out are perfect for the bottom of a door. Or like Michael says...use a towel. Heck, if you've got light blocked everywhere else, the bottom of the door is a snap to fix!
     
  18. glbeas

    glbeas Member

    Messages:
    3,307
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2002
    Location:
    Roswell, Ga.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    This should be amended by exposing the paper first so it will develop to a light grey and then set it out with the coins on it. This will bump the paper over its threshold level and give a realistic test of the actual printing conditions. Any fogging will show a darker grey outline of the coins.
     
  19. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,485
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    Location:
    Bath, OH 442
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    A different view of this question. Dust is also coming in that crack under the door. Seal it for the light. Seal it for the dust. Hey, two for the price of one.

    John
     
  20. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

    Messages:
    1,723
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    Location:
    Colorfull, C
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Before making a decision that light leaking into a darkroom is not affecting or fogging your material, run a simple test. In fact the same test used for checking your "safe light" works for checking how much leaking light is in
    the area where you handle your sensitized paper/film. An exposed or slightly exposed sheet of paper or film seems to be more sensitive and liable to fog than a sheet with no exposure. The quality of the finished product will be diminished/degraded if there is any stray light bouncing around in your chosen workspace. I still use a green safe light for inspection developing,
    but only at the tail end of the developing process when the films sensitivity
    to light is all but exhausted. Each to his own, but I will guarantee that if you can see anything at all in a darkroom after ten minutes with the lights off,
    that your materials will be fogging and your quality will not be what it could be!.

    Respectfully,
    C Webb
     
  21. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Member

    Messages:
    2,718
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2004
    Location:
    Vegas/myster
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    Gary is correct


    Dave Wooten
     
  22. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    9,284
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Location:
    Bergen, Norw
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    That is not my experience. Film in the developer is a lot less sensitive to light, which helps quite a bit. I have compared identically exposed sheets, one developed in trays in the darkish-room, one in a JOBO tank. There is no discernible difference in the negatives, and I can no longer find out which is which.
     
  23. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

    Messages:
    1,118
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Location:
    Near Tavisto
    Shooter:
    35mm
    The problem or otherwise also depends on how you work and thus how long the paper or film are exposed to whatever small amount of light there is. Also, during printing most enlarger heads leak light to some extent anyway, "polluting" your darkness. I have a couple of small chinks of light that I can't quite get rid of (and don't cause me enough bother to be worth trying too hard!) but although I don't find any problem with printing, I do make a point of loading and unloading film from cassettes when it's dark outside anyway - so problem solved!
    Best wishes,
    Steve
     
  24. ooze

    ooze Member

    Messages:
    367
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2004
    Location:
    Istanbul, Tu
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    These different experiences here are great. I was always worried about not being able to having my room totally dark. During daytime, the sunlight (if there is any in this sad part of the world) strikes my darkroom window full force, and I get light leaks all over the place. I have just kept on printing so far. Really, I should have done that test with the coin, but my prints turned out just fine, i.e. of the same quality that I get at night.

    But, I haven't loaded any film onto spirals until it's dark outside and I'm sure it's pitch black in the darkroom. I don't want to take risks at that stage.
     
  25. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

    Messages:
    4,679
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Location:
    Italia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've got the odd leak during the morning to. The thing is that light doesn't hit the paper. Follow the advice to do a safelight test for the room.
     
  26. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

    Messages:
    4,519
    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2002
    Location:
    Ipswich, Mas
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    My darkroom would make a purist shudder. After ten minutes of dark adaption, I can see ALL kinds of light leaks.
    I've tried the "Exposure Meter Test". My Gossen Ultra-Pro is a sensitive meter ... reading to a maximum of 8 hours exposure at f/0.7 with a film speed of 800,000 (DIN 60). When turned up to the most sensitive settings, and taking a reading in this leaky environment, I get a "flashing" display... out of range. If the conditions are such that I'd need more than eight hours exposure at an ISO of 800,000 and an aperture of f/0.7 to get an overall 18% gray exposure --- I'm not going to worry about fogging.