How permanent is your non-permanent darkroom?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by hoffy, Nov 19, 2011.

  1. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    My darkroom is my laundry. During 'non-darkroom' times, it has to function as a fully working laundry, so it means I need to set up each time I use it. The only permanent changes I have made thus far is installing a weather strip around the inside door (& re-adjusting the latch). There is a glass sliding door to the outside world, which has a few sheets of MDF taped to the glass.

    The problem I have mainly revolves around this glass sliding door. Every 6 months or so, I need to pull the MDF off and put new tape on, as it all starts to sag after a while and becomes progressively less opaque (I just use cheap plain black vinyl tape...next time I do have a roll of black cloth duct tape to try).

    So, every time I want to use the darkroom during daylight hours, I have an hour long battle trying to patch light leaks.

    I do have a list of things that I would like to do to rectify the situation:
    • instead of taping the MDF to the sliding glass door, make the pieces bigger and attach them to the aluminium frames - the thing going against this is screw holes, which doesn't thrill the wife - but hey, it's only the laundry, right?
    • put a timber strip around the inside of the internal door, so it overlaps the frame - again, the missus is not to keen on me screwing things into the frame, but hey, its wood product and could be easily filled....
    • make a plug to go under the door, instead of the towel that I currently stuff under there - actually, that's not a permanent fixture, so I should be good to go
    • Split system Air con unit.....now I'm talking!!!
    • Paint the walls around where the enlarger sits (on top of a chest freezer) black - OK, that will incur the wrath of 'er in doors, so maybe some MDF painted with blackboard paint and attached to the walls - holes can be filled, walls painted black will never be white again!

    (PS, we own the house and are not looking at moving for at least another 15 years, if ever)

    OK, I'm curious to hear how permanent others have made their non-permanent darkrooms?
    Cheers
     
  2. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    You just put a strip of wood across the MDF part way from the top & bottom and screw through the strip(S)
    Black cloth pinned to the wall behind the enlarger. I like the MDF better though.
    A weather sealing strip for the sliding doors? They're normally used for a swinging door but hey!
     
  3. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    My dry darkroom [enlarge, work table, drum print dryer] was a bedroom that in now a permanent dry darkroom.

    My wet darkroom is the master bathroom. I put a board across the double sinks for the trays and place a movable safe light on it. The fan switch turns on the spot light which now always has the red bulb in it. I put a board with darkroom cloth in the window well and use masking tape to hold the darkroom cloth to the walls. The door has a darkroom cloth that is Velcroed to attach to the top of the door frame. The prints rinse in the bathtub in trays that have a Kodak tray siphon. The shower stall has a nylon line that loops around the shower head and hangs over the side of the glass with a weight so that I can hang film clips on the nylon line.
     
  4. BradleyK

    BradleyK Member

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    When I went condo shopping sometime back, one of the deal-breakers was that the property must have two bathrooms. My agent thought it an odd request... Why would a single person would want - or even need - two bathrooms. Then I explained my intention of using the second as a "semi-permanent" darkroom. She understood. "Semi-permanent?" Well, those of us who have the good fortune of living out here on the coast, have noticed that we seem to have lot of guests during the winter months, generally folks looking to escape the bitter, soul-destroying cold of a Canadian prairie winter. I generally leave my darkroom set up on a full time basis, and soup and print at my leisure. When folks arrive, the enlarger, timer, trays, tanks, etc. are carefully packed into a hall closet - an effort that takes maybe 20 minutes.
    The location of my darkroom/bathroom (off the hall, one room down from my guest bedroom) is such that drawing the living room drapes, turning out the kitchen and hall lights, and placing a dark colored towel over the bottom of the door achieve sufficient darkness. My only real "modifications" are a piece of black velvet (about two meters long) duct taped to the ends of a track light which runs the length of the vanity, unscrewing the bulbs of the track lights, and replacing one of the track lights with the obligatory darkroom red. Despite being dual-purposed, I have had no issues re fogging, chemical stains, etc.
     
  5. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    My darkroom is converted from our second bathroom. Currently, aside from tearing out the vanity/sink and replacing it with a stainless kitchen sink, I've made no "permanent" changes to the room, although it can't function as a bathroom. I have a counter for the enlarger over the toilet, and another ajoining it over the tub. Plywood covers the window outside. I will likely continue the room's metamorphosis to a darkroom starting sometime this winter when the toilet will likely come out.

    It functions pretty well as a darkroom, and I have no worries about taking things down, or converting it back to it's other identity after a printing session. However, as is usual with such spaces there are a lot of compromises, mostly that the counters are pretty high to be able to clear the various fixtures. Even when I do take out all the stuff that makes it a bathroom, I'll be mindful that at some point, it will go back to bathroom-hood. But hopefully, that will be a good long way in the future.
     
  6. Craig Swensson

    Craig Swensson Member

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    Heavy black paper made into a roller blind with magnetic window strips to hold in place? I thought of doing this over our laundry / i mean darkroom window. Ended up using MDF painted both sides with blackboard paint and a rubber seal all the way around where it makes contact with frame.I used black building paper to overlap the door edges when closed - rubber at base and a 'sweeper' overlap as well.
    You could always accidently break the glass door and replace with a solid one - yeah that`ll work.
    regards
     
  7. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    I made my darkroom in the basement. One large room that I seperated into two rooms with black plastic for walls. I can just rip 'em down if I get a permanent spot. Everything else moves and I can cap the plumbing and leave it on the wall.
     
  8. R gould

    R gould Member

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    My Darkroom is a converted bedroom, with 1 huge window at on e end and a smaller window at the other, and I have used builders opaque black polythene stuck to the surround with black cloth duck tape, and this has worked perfectly for the last 20 years, I just need to very occasionly patch the duck tape, a five minute job once or twice a year.
    Richard
     
  9. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    My darkroom is a cupboard under the stairs. It's non-permanent as we rent this house so I'm constrained by the time limit of the contract and also by the fact I can't undertake major work to make it better. Obviously, there's no running water in there but there's also no electricity. I have to run an extension cable under the door, I have a washing up bowl full of water to hold prints, I don't hold too many, though, as the cupboard has no ventilation so I like to come out every so often. Having a Nova slot processor has made this possible as the cupboard is too small for trays to be laid out. The sloping roof means I can't have a very tall enlarger, it also means my current larger sits just a few inches off the floor and I sit cross-legged to print. I don't really need a safelight as the room is so small I can reach everything without moving.
     
  10. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Our home is for sale, so I'm in the 8x11 utility room off the kitchen. I have a velcro strip to hang a blackout cloth ovet the door to be able to load film without a changing bag, otherwise it's dark enough without for printing. Handy to the kitchen for washing up, and developing with daylight gear, in the sink.
     
  11. bernard_L

    bernard_L Subscriber

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    WHat is the purpose of painting the walls black around the enlarger? From past experience, I believe it is a bad idea. With all lights off, it is not going to make a big difference in the residual light seen by emulsions. With the red light on, you'rre much better off with white walls.
     
  12. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear Hoffy,

    My temporary darkroom is in my garage/laundry room. I have the luxury of being able to leave the windows covered. Setup is nothing more than laying out trays and opening up the door to the cabinet I built for the enlarger.

    How about blackout drapes? You could build caps for the top and ends to catch stray light. The bottom might be more of an issue, but a trough for the bottom to run through that could be removed and stored when not needed could do the trick. It might even sit nicely on top of the top cap.

    Neal Wydra
     
  13. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I also use my garage.

    Jeff
     
  14. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Black walls immediately around the enlarger reduce reflections from light leaks. If your enlarger isn't too leaky, it's not a problem, but if it is, then reducing reflection from leaks can help keep the sparkle in the highlights.

    My current darkroom has the wet side in the shower section of a spare bathroom, and the dry side immediately adjacent to it in the study, so it's set up all the time, but the study functions as a study, and the bathroom minus the shower functions as intended. I have a temperature gauge and hose manifold attached in place of the showerhead, and when we want to move, I can just put back the showerhead and leave the bathroom as we found it.
     
  15. Early Riser

    Early Riser Subscriber

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    I converted a 36'x10'x 10' section of dirt into a darkroom. That is I excavated and built a darkroom from the ground up.
     
  16. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Thanks for the comments - it has given me some thoughts.

    The PVC tape definately has to go - it breaks down too easily and comes adrift too easily - duct tape it is.

    As for drapes, that was my first plan. With the sliding door (the sliding door goes to the outside. The internal door is a swinging type), I velcro'd a opaque drape around the door frame. Again, this works well when using the darkroom at night, but I noticed that during the day, it let more light in then I expected - kind of looked like one of those weird star shows you might see at a science fair! The MDF taped to the glass was the next step, which has been relatively OK - except for the tape braking down!

    I did have another thought and that was to silastic the MDF to the window (using a black silastic). At least that can be peeled off at a later date.

    Just another question - do you guys spend long amounts in one shot in your darkroom? When ever i do a session, I'm in out of of there like a demented ferret. I'd hardly in there longer then 15 minutes at a time (but I do use the lights in the bathroom as my proofing lights).

    Cheers
     
  17. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    I use my bathroom (living in an apartment building), work needed to start some paper printing involves placing the trays onto the bathroom floor and having a larger rinsing tray inside the shower stall, then filling chemicals.
    I have a bare-bulb safe light hanging form the normal bathroom light which I can remove very easily and my enlarger sits on a wheel'ed table and can be rolled out of the bathroom if need be.

    For film developing, I use the toilet, it only has a toilet and a sink, but that is all I need really.

    There are no windows to block and the hallway with the toilet and the bathroom is very easy to make very dark, which, in turn, makes the toilet and bathroom completely dark.

    Works ok, but I doubt that a girlfriend/wife would approve. :smile:
     
  18. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    That sounds ambitious, and interesting! I'd like to see some photos.
     
  19. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    I built a freestanding frame of 2x4's with a "L" shaped entrance hallway in the middle of my basement. Covered it all with black plastic, I had a sink, but never plumbed in water, used water in buckets and trays.... made some of my best prints ever in my 5 years in that temp darkroom.

    Just "outside" that darkroom was the laundry area and tubs where I set up film washers and print washers on 2x4's across the laundry sink.

    I now have a proper darkroom of sorts in my dedicated studio building...
     
  20. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    My current darkroom is in a masterbath, no outside windows, blackout cloth over the door blocks light from the around the door. My master bath is somewhat unusal in that it only has a shower not a bath tub, I use the shower to dry film and wash prints and film, I use a tray for washing RC prints but move a roatery washer in for fiber prints. The double sink has enough surface area for 11X14 trays, I use a motor base and paper drums for 16X20 but need to wash outside. The room is large enough for my D3 and a Durst 600 which I can move if I need more space. I also apainted the walls a rusty red. Another photogerher in my complex took the tolit out so her enlarger can fit into the space. I use the bathroom but wife uses the second bath. My town home is just over 30 years old, if I need to sell I will need to have the entire bath remodeled. I spend up to 4 or 5 hours in the darkroom.