Seeking advice on designing a darkroom for minimal -time on your feet-

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Sean, Nov 23, 2011.

  1. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    Hi,

    Well we finally sold our house, so my boxed up "in between houses" darkroom problem is almost over. When we get settled in the new place I'll have a small dedicated space for a darkroom again. Can't wait :D

    The main problem is my spinal osteoarthritis. The days of standing over trays for hours on end, or hours of manually processing films is no longer viable. I understand I can't remove the art of enlarging from the equation and that's fine, but anything I can do to minimize time on my feet in the darkroom is a plus. I'm usually good on my feet anywhere from 2-3hrs then I can't hack it much more after that. In the past I would have big 8-11hr sessions in the darkroom, but there is no way I can manage that for now. I'm looking for suggested hardware systems to reduce physical load.

    For the most part I'll be on 35mm B&W and 11x14 prints for the foreseeable future. 35mm kit is light weight for me, 11x14 printing is about as big as I want to go for financial reasons.

    I would like to be able to automate developing up to 5 rolls of 35mm at a time, and automate paper development. I understand automation isn't ideal but am ok with making the most of it.

    Automating Paper:

    I might have the paper dev side covered as a local shop has a new 11x14 paper developer they want to get rid of (it's been on their shelf for years so hopefully it's still there). I'm open to suggestions in case they no longer have it, and my most likely source will be ebay. I know a little about Nova and the processor local is a table top deal. There could be options I'm not aware of. A rocker tray might be an option but not ideal.

    Automating Film:

    I am thinking a used Phototherm off of ebay? Open to suggestions.

    Thanks
     
  2. swhiser

    swhiser Subscriber

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    May I suggest Jobo (CPE2 or CPP2, for example) for negs and a splitgrade controller (like the Heiland) for printing?

    The Jobo will take over temp monitoring and agitation of your negs in development (no more standing and holding the tank, just get up to change the chemistry). The splitgrade system will eliminate the time it takes to run multiple test strips in the printing phase.

    These are productivity-enhancing tools in which I am investing for my own new darkroom.
     
  3. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    The Heiland looks interesting, I have a V35 enlarger which would be compatible. I am also more likely to find a jobo locally, are they heavy units (for shipping)?
     
  4. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    My most important "standing relief device" is a cheap wood stool.

    It's perfect workbench height and weighs no more than a few pounds. I can drag it with my foot when needed.

    I learned to get rid of the deathtrap with wheels in the dark, but YMMV.
     
  5. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    +1 on the stool. I don't use one at the enlarger, but I often use it when processing film, and processing lith prints. You could certainly operate a Jobo from a stool.

    For print processing you could use the Jobo as well, but it's nice to be able to track the progress and pull the print from the developer at a point you choose rather than strictly by time. A Nova would let you process the print by inspection, and if you set it up at a good working height you could use it from a stool. Roger Hick's site shows a Nova set into his work counter, which is something I plan to do with mine. Of course neither the Jobo nor Nova are automated, but if standing is the main issue, you could work with them.

    Jobos aren't terribly heavy, but they are bulky, so shipping is still expensive.

    From the description, it looks like a Darkroom Automations or RH Designs F-stop timer and analyzer will give you near the same capabiity at much lower cost, though they wouldn't automate the filtering.
     
  6. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    +2 on the stool. I have my darkroom set up as a long aisle with wet on one side and dry on the other. By making the aisle narrow, I can just swivel on my stool from enlarging to developing. The other thing I did was to put the sink and the enlarger up high enough to be comfortable to use standing or on the tall stool. It makes a big difference to not have to bend over the sink.
     
  7. brian d

    brian d Member

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    +3 for the stool, I usually cant stand more than a hour in the darkroom. I have a concrete floor, I'm sure rubber mats on the floor would help too.
     
  8. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    What about something like the Heiland TAS Film Processor for totally automated film development? Not sure how many rolls it can handle per cycle, but the thing looks adjustable. They also mention the availability of customized versions for different tanks. Should even work for "taco-style" 4x5 sheet film processing.

    I've been intrigued by this guy ever since I first saw him.

    (Scroll down the page for the really cool explanatory photo...)

    Ken
     
  9. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    I spend most of my day in a zero-g recliner chair (not fully reclined), I use it as my computer chair and it has done wonders for me. Anything that requires me to support my own torso is tough after a short while. I do a lot of strength building exercise as well, long walks seem to be winning lately for keeping my back in check. I am in tune with my limitations now and try to stay within them for sanity sake. If I step out of that zone I get extremely sore spine and in pain, which can almost bring on depression because of it (even if I'm in good spirits). Anyway, I'm pretty used to it at this point and there are a lot of emerging therapies that look promising, so I try to think of it as a temporary problem until they can pump my spine full of stem cells :smile:

    The Nova print processor looks nice and has a lot of pluses to it over the other one I was considering.
     
  10. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    That looks awesome.
     
  11. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    Those foam red/blue/green/yellow children's interlocking play mats are Great on concrete floors, or you can get the dull grey shop versions.
     
  12. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Sean, I suffer as you do. I still process the old-fashioned way, and print for a maximum of two hours(a real push these days). The largest I print is 11x14 as well. I develope in the mornings whenever possible, and rest for a while. Then I print in the evening, making only one or two 8x10's and put off making any serious art prints for the next day. I have to tell you, I am on a heavy pain-managment regimen, that involves major drugs, walking as much as possible. I also have a thick foam pad(ala the kindergarten kind)that I stand on at the enlarger and trays. It is a 1/2 inch thick closed cell foam, interlocking squares, multi-colored affair that I purchased at a yard sale for a dollar, and is able to be layed to suit almost any pattern you need. I still cannot make myself sit down to do the work, tho my wife bought a bar stool to aid me. Keep exercising and stretching, stay on a healthy diet, and plan your printing schedule accordingly. Congratulations on the new abode, and God Bless .
     
  13. sdotkling

    sdotkling Member

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    Don't throw stones at me. Shoot film and scan; get good at Photoshop; print with a good inkjet. Save the standing and walking for picture-taking.
    Okay, you can throw stones now.