Please help with a darkroom checklist

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Puma, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. Puma

    Puma Member

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    Hello,

    For the past few years I've been developing my own negatives and scanning. I've decided that I want to go back to manual printing. Because it's been a long time since I printed I want to know if I've considered everything. I got a Leica V35 enlarger with a vario-contrast head that I'm really excited about and the rest of my darkroom equipment was stolen out of a warehouse so I have repurchase everything but the enlarger. Please examine this list and point out anything I've forgotten. Thank you.

    Black out material
    Velcro
    Safelight compatible with Adox fiber mcc 110 VC paper. Amber OC?
    Timer
    Antistatic brush
    Grain focuser
    Easel (4 blade 11x14)
    Chemistry? I'm just going to get the Adox brand and to support their company because I like that they're producing the old Agfa material.
    Trays for developer, stop, fix, wash, tone
    Print washer 11x14
    Squeegee
    Print dryer
    Air evac bottles (five two liter) Are these the best size?
    Spotting kit? Best one?

    I would sincerely appreciate any advice on these items. I hate to buy things twice. I want to start printing as soon as I get these things and I don't want to leave anything out.

    Thank you,

    Puma
     
  2. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    What size trays did you get?

    Jeff
     
  3. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I went through iterations with my developer storages. My current working method is to mix 1 gallon of D-76 but store half of it in 1/2 gallon tank and rest in a bunch of 250cc bottles. That way, I can always keep them air tight and air free. You can buy these cheaply at Amazon...

    For spotting, I just went through Berg kit and Spotone kit. I had better lack with the latter in terms of color matching with Ilford paper. You do need a very good and tiny brushes for spotting.
     
  4. Puma

    Puma Member

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    I haven't purchased any of this stuff yet but in your question (Jeff) I realized that I should get (11x14) trays to accommodate 8x10 inch prints and a 16x20 print washer that can handle 8x10's side by side to save water because the sound of water running will be a problem.

    Thanks for the advice on the Spotone kit. I have some excellent brushes already and a steady hand.

    Anything else I've missed?
     
  5. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    Fixer test solution & negative storage system if you don't have the means to now
    Means to trim paper for test exposures (can be as simple as a ruler or scissors; scissors are good for lots of oter things as long as no sharp ends)
    Non absorptive tongs, if you can find them, for handling prints in trays; critical if toning.
    Means for drying (clothes pegs on line or screens or blotters)
    Flattening option if FB - (large books and matte board)

    I mix from scratch, so I usually store developers in 1L or smaller glass containers; the rest goes in well labelled empty 2L soda bottles. The air evacs I think are a waste of time; store diluted developer in a 2L pop bottle , and squeeze the bottle until the air is out.
     
  6. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    I do not see a paper safe on your list. A MUST for any working darkroom.

    Given enough room, I would also invest in a second safelight, one in the vicinity of the enlarger and one near the trays, unless you can rig one in between the two stations. But you should have wet and dry seperated so two would be best as you won't cast a shadow on either side and be able to see your work better.

    I would get a GraLab timer. The big black box. It is an awesome timer and, at times, can be picked up on the cheap here or there. But well worth the investment new if need be.

    And a nice comfortable stool, both in regards to perching oneself and for working height as well.
     
  7. Puma

    Puma Member

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    In another thread( http://camerazealot.com/2011/01/24/chemical-storage/?blogsub=confirming#subscribe-blog) I read about glass bottles as a solution where the author says he uses glass marbles to evacuate the air, sounds like a good idea but it might be a pain. I can't find the air evac bottles in stock anyway, so I may be using pop bottles. I forgot about a paper safe. My local photo store has a GraLab timer for sale for 17 dollars so I'm on it.

    Are fixer test chemicals necessary with fixer that have indicators?
     
  8. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Do you intend to store long term or one shot your chems? If you intend to keep it on the shelf for any amount of time and reuse then hypo testing would be highly recommended.

    Another idea might be some test wedges or sheets so you can save time on your paper exposing.

    And I know you know this, but 4-6 bamboo tongs would work as well. It's not on your list but sometimes we overlook the little things.

    And a place to stow some decent music when your in there and not concerned with timing so much, like set up and clean up.

    OH! OH! OH! Almost forgot. I use little baby medicine droppers for dispensing chemistry into solution. They are marked, generally in cc/mL and being small as they are fit into almost anything. And get a good graduated cylinder (11 ounce or so) and a kitchen mixing cup (32 oz).
     
  9. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I would avoid the air evacuation bottles - not very effective (they tend to leak air) and very difficult to clean.

    Developer is fairly susceptible to oxidation. The rest of the chemicals aren't, so generally I would say that you needn't worry about marbles or anything similar unless you are mixing up large batches of developer, and trying to keep them for a long time.

    Instead, I recommend mixing all chemistry and then splitting them into smaller bottles, as tkamiya has suggested above. Plastic will work fine for most chemistry - if you want to use amber glass you can, but remember that amber glass breaks and is hard to see through.

    Personally, I use a combination of systems:

    1) I use liquid concentrate developer (Kodak Polymax-T for paper and HC110 for film). I dilute it from concentrate (which keeps for months) and use it one shot;
    2) I use liquid concentrate stop-bath. I dilute it from concentrate (which keeps forever) and use it one shot;
    3) I use (Ilford) liquid concentrate fixer. For paper, I dilute it from concentrate (which keeps for months) and use it one shot. For film, I mix up working solution and store it in re-used empties of the 1 litre Ilford bottles that the concentrate comes in;
    4) The only powder chemistry I use regularly is Hypo Clearing Agent and Selenium toner. For them I re-use plastic bottles originally designed for tomato/clamato juice for working strength storage;
    5) For Rapid Selenium Toner, I leave the concentrate in the bottle supplied by the manufacturer (it keeps for a long time) and use the tomato/clamato juice bottles to store working strength solutions.

    Hope this helps.
     
  10. jerry lebens

    jerry lebens Member

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    A thermometer might be useful...

    Regards
    Jerry
     
  11. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    I knew, there must be something I don't have in my darkroom yet.

    Actually, there is more on the OP's list that I don't have, or have and don't use:

    Antistatic brush (really like to get one, but of the electrical kind)
    Easel (mine is just a steel plate)
    Squeegee (simply a dangerous piece of equipment)
    Air evac bottles (don't like them, don't work well below 50% and hard to keep clean)

    Spotting kit? (Spotone if you can find it, or Marshalls which is still made)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 26, 2011
  12. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    You can have mine :smile:

    I acquired it last year, in a job lot - a complete darkroom setup, however I'll never use it and in nearly 50 years of darkroom work have never seen one in anyone's darkrooms.

    Ian
     
  13. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    That was my point as well. Never had one, never missed it, but I do have a light-tight drawer.

    http://www.darkroomagic.com/DarkroomMagic/Darkroom_files/LightTightDrawer.pdf
     
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  15. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    You need to visit my bathroom/darkroom :smile:.

    IMHO Paper safes are probably most useful for those of us who are short of counter space and/or have to work from temporary darkrooms.

    I can and have worked without them, but I prefer working with them.

    My favourite version? - the custom made, permanently installed light-tight paper drawer.

    EDIT: I see Ralph likes them too!
     
  16. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    I don't think I could live without my light tight drawer. Working in and out of spare empty Ilford bags and envelopes ( which I have done, and does work) is a little like trying get through a Canadain winter with dress shoes and galoshes, rather than just leaving the nice shoes at the office and buying a pair of Sorels.
     
  17. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Yes, I'd agree about the light tight drawer(s) if you have space for them, they are far more practical than paper safes.

    Ian
     
  18. silveror0

    silveror0 Member

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    Regarding print drying, it's best to air dry toned prints (preferably face down on plastic screens after lightly squeegeeing excess water off). The screens can be hosed off occasionally. The apron on heat dryers can become a source of contamination for fine prints but are useful for proof prints.

    Regarding timers, there are digital timers that are offer very precise timing (especially if you want to use stop-clock methods), and there are analog types. I use both kinds for different purposes; for dodging and burning I find the use of a metronome (wind-up type bought at a music store) useful that I can set manually to one beat/second so I can keep my eyes on the work. For some wet side functions (with my workflow) are best aided by a timer that counts UP instead of down; my digital GraLab does both (and other stuff as well).
     
  19. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    Ansel Adams, being a trained pianist, suggested and used a metronome. I tried it, but to be honest, it reminds me a bit of a Chinese water torture. It gets to me after a while. The StopClock is a better solution for me.
     
  20. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

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    Music is essential IMO!
     
  21. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    Many people feel that way. I have a small radio in the darkroom too, but it's usually off, because my darkroom is also a hideout for me, hiding and getting away from it all when I need to.
     
  22. silveror0

    silveror0 Member

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    During one of my workshops with AA I witnesses his metronome - it was a rather loud electronic type - and frankly I don't think I could've tolerated it for long, maybe due to its pitch. But mine is a quiet tick, and I find it very relaxing, much like a quiet living room with a grandfather clock :smile:. I recall reading of others who experienced his metronome and were driven batty by it.
     
  23. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I'm with you Ralph, I enjoy the quiet. To be honest, music is a distraction at times, especially when I'm focused in on a difficult negative(yes, even I get one).
     
  24. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Light box or light table.
    Film clips.
    Drying racks (instead of "Print Dryer").
    Graduated cylinders.
    Mixing bucket and stirrer.
     
  25. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Gee, be teck-nickel, why don't you. Where did you write that in your book? :smile: :whistling:

    Should have typed 'Or some such device to keep unexposed paper unexposed.'


    Here's another one. I haven't tried it yet, probably won't until if and when, sometime in the future, I get a permanent DR going. I read where a famous photographer would nuke his working and test prints to judge drydown more quickly. Just a little microwave.

    Just thought I, the eccentric one, would throw that one out there.
     
  26. Puma

    Puma Member

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    Thank you for all this valuable information. My darkroom also doubles as a bathroom and space is VERY limited. I have a small counter which is about 45 inches wide by 18 inches deep. The enlarger (turned sideways) takes up the lions share of space and I'm going to have to stack trays just so I can have space for them. I've considered trying to build my own vertical processor with plexiglass and aquarium glue but who knows if it would work? I've never actually seen a Nova in person and don't know all the ins and outs. I'm going to make a print washer and put it on the tank of the toilet and run a hose from the sink to it then drain it to the bathtub. This obviously isn't an ideal setup but I make due with what resources I have and make them work the best I can. Perhaps in the future I can graduate to a Nova processor to save space. Under the counter I have to design some storage system that will work. As far as a dry side and wet side I just don't have the room.

    I live in rural Arkansas where photography isn't in great demand but it's what I enjoy doing and second hand darkroom equipment is hard to come by. I own everything to process negatives and have been doing that for years and scanning them into a computer but I find the digital prints lacking in character and I don't do photography for soulless results.

    Sincerely,

    Puma