No darkroom, looking for a solution.

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Rob Skeoch, Oct 22, 2010.

  1. Rob Skeoch

    Rob Skeoch Advertiser Advertiser

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    Right now I have a great darkroom.
    I have an 8x10 enlarger, one for 4x5, and a Leica V35 for 35mm.

    I'm thinking of shutting it down.

    What solutions have you found for getting access to a darkroom once you shutdown the home darkroom?

    -Rob
     
  2. Bo73

    Bo73 Member

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    There aren't any good solutions IMHO.

    You would have to look around and try to find a foto club. Other solutions could be ingratiating yourself with a local college or evening school other than that you're stuck like me (but I photograph relatively little).

    I used to have a 35 mm darkroom (enlarger, trays, the works even a small dedicated space). After a move I had to shut it down and sell the enlarger as I simply didn't have the space. Now I'm on a hybrid solution: Film + film changing bag + Aldi film scanner.

    The pros: It doesn't take up space and you get the marvelous quality of film negatives and the pleasure of playing with chemicals and you're still tied into the limitations of film that will expand your art

    The cons: It's not a darkroom and you're stuck in a semi digital workflow with all it's pitfalls of "computering out of it" to compensate for sloppy artistic work and craftmanship.

    But it is a HUGE space saver and the lower operating costs (esp. with small volumes) and ease of operation makes it a good but amputated bet - make sure you get a huge changing bag though (but you probably already got one)
     
  3. lns

    lns Member

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    Why shut it down?

    I can only say that every time I want to print I have to set up and take down a temporary darkroom in a basement bathroom. It probably subtracts an hour from my limited printing time. Plus, I have to use a tiny bathroom sink and use an enlarger that's about two feet off the ground. I would love to have a real darkroom. Especially with your equipment, which I could only dream of.

    I hope you can keep the darkroom. Even if you're not using it now, you could always return to it. Other solutions are really compromised.

    -Laura
     
  4. David William White

    David William White Member

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    I don't suppose there would be anything at the paper?

    I can't imagine how you'd make out without a darkroom -- your large prints are simply amazing -- but I guess you could satisfy yourself with contact prints. If you do shut down, I'd come over and cart away the 8x10 beseler...just to be helpful, eh...
     
  5. canuhead

    canuhead Member

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    seriously Rob ? don't make us come over for an intervention. would it be too intrusive to ask why you're considering this course of action ?
     
  6. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    If not forced to shut down by a move into living quarters where you can't set up the equipment or else getting out of the analog business for some reason, it seems really crazy to let go of a good place to work. With all the enlargers you could possibly want.

    The only serious thing would be if you do alternative processes and only need to soup the film and the rest goes on in less than dark conditions. But then you need at least 5x7 in my opinion.

    Give this a second and a third thought before you shut down.

    My solution to not having a darkroom at home is to share one, 25 minutes bus ride away. It's expensive, creaky and not always to the standard I'd like. But I have no other option if I am going to do wet printing of small and medium format negatives. If I wasn't able to do that, I'd do only do alt processes (LF) or give up photography.
     
  7. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    There are not any great solutions unless you are a student (or alumnus/alumna, in some cases) of a college with a nice darkroom (i.e. one with private rooms). Rental darkrooms are too expensive, and you are limited to their chemicals and the way they are maintained. If you are going to shut down your darkroom, I suggest you become or befriend a student at a local art college.

    Here in L.A., at Cal Arts, alumni can pay a $100 per month fee for access to the school's darkroom, which is rather nice. (There are private rooms with their own sinks, a 51 inch Kreonite, a horizontal 8x10 mural enlarger, etc.)

    Is it possible to downsize to just the 4x5 enlarger in order to keep your darkroom?
     
  8. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    It would kill me to get rid of my darkroom. It took me almost 20 years after high school to get one. Of course, this is about you, but the fact that you are looking for a "solution" implies some ambivalence. I would solve the problem by eliminating it and keeping the darkroom.
     
  9. Casey Kidwell

    Casey Kidwell Member

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    Is this a trick question? Please elaborate.
     
  10. Obscura26

    Obscura26 Member

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    Hey Rob, not too far from you is the LATOW Photographers Guild and with your membership you have access to a their darkroom located at the Burlington Art Centre.
     
  11. Rob Skeoch

    Rob Skeoch Advertiser Advertiser

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    The darkroom is at my studio. Which is not in my home but a different property a few blocks away. I'm contemplating selling the studio and moving into a new space.... but would not have a darkroom.

    There's no way I could move the darkroom into the house. (Or the boat for that matter)

    I have been to Latow a number of time and have considered this.... although they don't have an 8x10 enlarger and the other enlargers aren't the quality of mine. (Sounds arrogant I know, plus I doubt they would want to store my boat.)

    So I'm just pondering some ideas.

    It started with this photo....
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sportsphotorob/4955368569/

    Shot in colour with a digital camera.... but I kinda enjoyed it and wanted to do more like it.

    This lead me to re-evaluating everything I do in photography.... from shooting black and white 35mm.... through the Pentax 645 I own..... all the way to 8x10.

    If I don't have a darkroom it's tough to continue doing black and white the way I like to.... If I don't shoot black and white, then why do I need a film camera????

    More questions than answers.

    I'm just working through it, but appreciate the comments from the members here. I've been a member a long time and enjoy the different points of view.

    -Rob
     
  12. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I have a make shift darkroom in my garage, if I shut that down I have nothing!

    Jeff
     
  13. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    This seems to be the crucial bit. Why sell the studio if it means loosing the darkroom and then asking why shoot film?

    If you have to sell the studio, maybe donate your enlargers to a community darkroom and print there.

    If you don't have to sell the darkroom but are using that as a way of justifying a move into the Sony A55, then you should follow your heart.
     
  14. canuhead

    canuhead Member

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  15. clayne

    clayne Member

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    Rob, I see no reason why that photograph should make you reevaluate everything. Many successful portrait photographers use simple 120 and 4x5 color or black and white setups.

    Film isn't just for black and white.
    Black and white isn't at exclusion of color and vice-versa.

    You're going off of something emotionally driven. Get rid of the darkroom and you'll regret it.
     
  16. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    Scanner, inkjet or dyesub or a prolab.

    I could never work in a community darkroom after my own.


    for one thing, there are all the solutions with unknown capacity. Then you have to travel and conform to their hours.
     
  17. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    If you seek, you shall surely find a way.

    Steve
     
  18. jvo

    jvo Subscriber

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    hmmm...

    if i were in your situation, i hope someone would advise me try the "new" setup for awhile and see if you like the new way. if you do you'll find a way to move the other stuff.

    i think what you'll find in the digital world (just like the analog world), there is always something more you need to get. the only problem being it's all a significant level more expensive!
     
  19. dehk

    dehk Member

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    What ever you do, just don't regret one day, "why did I ever get rid of my darkroom?"
     
  20. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Rob:

    I'd sure miss your postcards :smile:.
     
  21. Rob Skeoch

    Rob Skeoch Advertiser Advertiser

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    So this is what I came up with.... it's a bit of a rant but makes sense in the end.

    I've decided to continue shooting rodeo cowboy portraits for the next while. The enjoyment of shooting the portraits is what got this whole thing started.

    It's important to know that I own a traditional photography retail outlet.... which does have some influence on the equipment I use and film's I shoot with.

    Last year I backpacked through China with my daughter and took along a pair of Zeiss Ikon rangefinders and a pile of black and white Delta 100 and 400. Although I'm happy with the work from the trip, and made a series of nice portraits, I doubt if my future trips will be film only.... more likely one Zeiss Ikon and a M9. So I'm selling off my back-up film rangefinders.

    For regular 35mm I use Sony digital cameras, since I do work for Sony. They never made a film camera so I have a F6 for shooting with an SLR. I don't shoot with it all that much but will keep it in the drawer.

    I have an entire Pentax 645 system, which is the odd man out and I'm going to get rid of it. It's a great system but I want to focus on large format and the Pentax makes me lazy.

    My large format of choice has been the Ebony SV810. This is a great camera, a joy to use and I have an 8x10 enlarger to make the large prints I like to make.

    The problem with the Ebony is that I carry five brands of 8x10 cameras at my retail store.... but Ebony is no longer one of the brands.... so I decided a while back to sell the Ebony brand camera and replace it with a new camera. This opened up a whole new can of worms.... which brand, but also which format. I've noticed both my friends and enemy's are switching to lighter gear as we grow older. So after much thought I decided to switch to 4x10 from the 8x10 and also add a 5x7 back.

    So there we have it. I'm going to shoot portraits of rodeo cowboys on a 4x10 ShenHao camera and print them in the darkroom that I'm keeping open. I just need to get a 4x10 negative holder built.

    I'll have to switch film from the Delta 100 that I love but isn't in 4x10, and start using FP4 since I sell that at the store.

    I've sent in the order for the new camera, started selling off the excess gear and ordered a few extra boxes of film in the new format.

    Now where did I put that saddle.

    -Rob
    pumped and ready for the new adventure
     
  22. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    Great end of the story, with a new beginning. :smile: Good luck on the new adventures!
     
  23. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Good to hear you kept the darkroom. There were / are so many dazzling conflicts in your story, that I could hardly imagine you making a rational decision.

    Like:

    "I had a chance to try out the new Sony A33 Alpha. This photo was done with face detection using the Sony Zeiss 135mm Lens."

    And than:

    Face detection... :confused: Come on!!! For anyone having used LF, this is just a plain insult (and you know it in your heart too! :wink:)

    Yeh, well, Sony didn't make SLR camera's either, Minolta did, and for film too. :wink: You really should try out a Dynax / Maxxum 7 or 9 once, if you have the Sony Zeiss lenses at your disposal.

    You'd be the last person we'd expect here to contemplate all this... Good you decided to go for another ride :wink:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 15, 2010