I Need Help! (Darkroom Setup/Layout)

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by tryals15, May 25, 2012.

  1. tryals15

    tryals15 Member

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    I'm new to the darkroom (i.e. when I develop my next roll it will be my first... :D)

    I'm a teacher, and I plan to learn and practice developing film over the summer. I have an oportunity to install a darkroom at the school I work at or next year for use by the photography club (I'm the sponsor).

    The room(s) we will be getting will be laid out like the diagram below. My plan is to install a darkroom in the smaller room and put a studio in the larger, longer room. There is no running water to either room, and having it installed is not an option. There is, however, running water outside of the entrance to the smaller room.

    We had a Dichro 67 enlarger donated to our club this semester, along with a few trays and odds and ends. We will need to purchase everything else on the smallest budget possible. (We can buy what we need, we just can't go nuts...)

    I would really appreciate any help ya'll can provide in where to put benches, what to install where, etc.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    ** I should add, we will most likely be doing 35mm only, although given that I shoot MF, we may venture in that direction as well.
     

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  2. ROL

    ROL Member

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  3. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Bummer dude, you have to access the studio through the DR. Hmm..... I recon you could use a couple of tables or sturdy shelves in the DR along the length of the longer walls for enlargers and trays. You can use a large tub to give a quick rinse for prints, and wash them elsewhere. Changing bags to load daylight tanks for processing film. If you want to pay postage I have a Vivitar enlarger for you.
     
  4. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Subscriber

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    I think I'd use the entire thing as a darkroom and build some sort of outside studio with overhangs and light reflective/absorptive movable walls. Why can the water be run through the wall to the sinks? Is it a drainage issue?
     
  5. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

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    If I were in your situation.

    Why not a pinhole project? Given your limitations, 4X5 pinhole contacts would be the way to go.

    It's a crafts/construction project building the camera. It's a physics project determining pinhole size and "f-stops". It's chemistry project processing film and paper. And in the end, it's something of an art project.

    Get people excited about it and watch your administration find ways to get you plumbing and electricity and safelights.
     
  6. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    I also vote for using the whole space as a darkroom. If you are at a school there should be many areas open for a quick studio setup such as a small gym or an auditorium, or even outside.

    I limit enlargers to no more than 3 people working together, it just gets too crowded. If you plan on having a larger class you need to have the larger room setup with a few simple walled booths. More room is good, it's safer, more breathing room, more storage room, the feeling of being closed in a darkroom can be overwhelming to certain people if it's a tight space.

    I don't have running water in my darkroom, seems that we used to, but it was disconnected permanently. The main sink is actually outside, not a big deal as its not hard to transport trays out since we only go up to 11x14. I use two water holding baths.
     
  7. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    What are your class sizes and how many per week? Logistics is a very important consideration for photographic education. The lack of running water is a serious setback and I would suggest you try and address this as a number one priority.
     
  8. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Wonderful problem to pose!

    I am sure you will get plenty useful advice on arrangement so I'll focus on things that might not be obvious.

    You can probably get water into the small room "washing machine" style. Have hose connections that you couple-up at the beginning of the day and unhook at the end. If the drain outside is low you can run a drain hose down and out. You might run a drain into a "dishwasher" drain downpipe but if you go down under the door with it you run risk of siphon "breaking" and will always have to be vigilant about the draining. Or "dishwasher" style, there is a way to connect rolling dishwashers to a faucet that includes both water infeed and drain in one snap-on connector. That would be really cool and you can probably find someone with an old rolling dishwasher to donate the parts.

    Worst case you can always setup a rolling cart that has the wet stuff and roll it outside to wash prints/film. That's all you really need running water for anyway. Rest of the stuff can be carried back and forth.

    You might hang a sheet of black plastic to create a walkway at the end of the long room to make a light-safe "baffle."
     
  9. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    check out the massive thread on members darkrooms:

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum43/10966-darkroom-portraits.html

    and its baby brother:

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum43/104762-darkroom-portraits-part-2-a.html

    You really shouldn't have to buy much, if any, darkroom equipment. I have 2 pretty complete darkroom kits in my basement waiting for time and space. They cost a total of $90. I have been given a third complete, extensive, high-end darkroom that is several hundred miles away, just waiting for me to pick it up. All 3 of the original owners tried to donate them to schools but were refused.
     
  10. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Might as well set it up and use it and not hoard it. There is no better time than today. If not today, put it back onto craigslist or this forum, others may need such equipment you are not using, when the time comes, I'm sure you will be able to find another set. :whistling:
     
  11. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Maximize your counter tops as suggested and have shelves underneath. It would be best to sink the top and have a drain so any spills can be handled so you would have essentially a deep sink albeit without running water. All could be made with plywood and painted with marine polyester. Be sure to seal the joints before painting. Strips of moulding works well --- enlist the shop class. Consider some type of a ventilation system and a way to blackout the doors. An easy way is to get blackout fabric and attach it to dowel sticks top and bottom and can be attached above the doors to "L" hooks so they can be removed when not in use. Fiberglass screens work well for drying prints. A decent safelight and a time should be on your list. You might be able to pickup items from someone or a lab that has gone digital.

    Just some quick ideas I'm sure you will get many suggestions.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  12. tryals15

    tryals15 Member

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    If I were to setup a sink draining into a 5 gallon bucket would that be large enough to deal with the volume of a developing session (or 5...)?

    This is for the photography club. It's not a class. If I could find a plumber there is an extremely slight chance that the principal would let me alter the school's plumbing, but I'm not hopeful. We averaged 8-12 students on a regular basis this year, who knows if a darkroom would increase or decrease that number. The hope, obviously, is that it will increase...
     
  13. George Nova Scotia

    George Nova Scotia Subscriber

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    If you go the bucket route add a water alarm to the rim - might save some mopping up:sad:
     
  14. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Subscriber

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    My guess is once your first few students start talking to others enthusiastically about how kewl it is and showing off there images... others will want to join.
     
  15. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Not hoarding, just waiting. Out of these 3 there will also be one for my future son-in-law as soon as they settle in a bigger place. Oh, and there is no shortage of equipment.
     
  16. tryals15

    tryals15 Member

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    Thanks everyone for the input so far! I am liking the pinhole project idea. In fact, I got inspired and built a Populist the other day.

    I am also seeing the wisdom in using the larger room as the darkroom.

    One question, though: If I have more than one enlarger, how does one use them in a dark room? It seems to me if someone is developing at one end of the room and someone else throws the enlarger on at the other you'd have problems...

    Another thought about using the larger room as the darkroom. The sink is about where the 18' notation is on my diagram. Maybe it would be easier to get plumbing run if it was just through the wall? Not sure about that one...

    Thanks for the ideas, I hope you'll keep them coming!
     
  17. WayneStevenson

    WayneStevenson Member

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    My darkroom is without running water so I know exactly what you're going through. Doesn't have to be a struggle.

    I develop my B&W papers in trays, and my color papers in daylight tubes by the sink. I have to be very carefully with my trays to not spill them as the're obviously not in a sink. If I do end up dumping one, even worse as there is obviously not a convenient source of water for clean-up.

    For rinses, I bring my water in with me, and I take it back out. After fixing, my print goes in one bucket for a quick rinse, and then sometimes another depending on how much printing I am doing. If only a couple prints, there's enough water in one bucket to suffice for me. Well, for RC prints, it's good enough for me. Out of the water bath and into the dryer. Fiber takes a walk with me to a water source. But I don't usually bother with fiber.

    I have 5G pails. You can pick them up at any hardware store for around $5. But I use large square kitty litter buckets for my water. They're a perfectly comfortable weight to carry when filled.

    Most of my film gets developed in daylight tanks. Only 8x10 sheet film goes in trays. Either way, they have to make their way to a sink for a good rinse, and better the sink as opposed to buckets of water that after filling them up, eventually have to be brought back out to be dumped.
     
  18. tryals15

    tryals15 Member

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    That's some great info. Thanks!
     
  19. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    If there is a sink on the other side of the wall, tying into it from the darkroom shouldn't be a big problem.

    As for enlarging while other things happen, unless someone is doing sheet film in open trays, the only time complete darkness is needed is when loading reels. That could be done in a changing bag, or just by timing and cooperation. If you can add a couple of partition walls you could make a closet sized space in the darkroom for film changing.

    However, processing the film under safelights while someone is enlarging could be a bit of a challenge anyway since it will make it a little tough to read labels and graduates, but it's doable.

    The ideal darkroom would be split into two parts, one for film, the other for enlarging, but we're not dealing with "ideal" here, and what you have can be made to work.