What rules should I set for the Darkroom?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by lorirfrommontana, Mar 14, 2009.

  1. lorirfrommontana

    lorirfrommontana Member

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    I will be having kids (10 or 11 years old to 18 y.o.) learning development and printing in my darkroom. There are only a few of them right now but I will never know from year to year how many will want to try photography! I want to set up a list of rules that they must sign and abide by in the darkroom. A couple of rules I thought of are to always wear gloves and eye protection (I'll provide) when handeling chems, No horseplay, ...??? Anything that you can think of that would be good to have on a list of darkroom rules would be so helpful.

    I'll probebly charge them a small yearly fee for printing and develping ($5 or $10 or so plus the cost of film wich I will order so we are all useing the same stuff for beginning). I may do a per session ($1.00 ? ) wich might be more fair for those that may only do one roll of black and white or just a pin hole print. This will of course not cover the cost of supplies but I don't want anyone left out that would like to learn. I'm still coming up with ideas. We will only be developing and printing Black and White.

    The plumbing and electric should go in this next week (I hope) so, although behind schedule I will have a darkroom! I'm hoping that I'll be able to be in the next postcard exchange! There will only be room for 1 or 2 at a time in there as it's tiny! I need to do a bit of practice myself before I try and show anyone else what to do! Thanks for any ideas any of you may have.

    Lori
     
  2. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    My kids are under 10, so washing the grubby little hands is rule #1, then no eating or drinking. I have an enlarging station set up for them with their own enlarger, light box, timer, grain focuser etc. Their attention span is like 15 seconds, so I don't have them down there long. I set some time aside and bring them down to each do a print. I use the Kodak projection print scale, so they do the exposure on RC paper and I quickly run it through the chemicals and dry it for them and they get to pick the slice they like. They set the timer and focus and make the print. They are read to go play something else by the time the prints are in the fixer so I let them go and give them the prints the next day. So far it has been a great experience.

    I have the enlarger on a standard height counter, but it is too high for them, even for 4x5 enlargements.
     
  3. mts

    mts Subscriber

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    Teach them to wear an apron (plastic not cloth) when working wetside, and teach them to use the towel after dipping hands into wash water before handling anything on dry side. It's also important to teach them not to lean on the sink edge, rather to stand up straight a bit away from the edge. It is a very good idea to avoid chemical exposures, especially to developers as the allergenic responses can build slowly with time.

    Use a paper safe that has spring-loaded doors to prevent inadvertant exposures. Teach them to work in complete darkness for loading film onto reels and for tray processing color prints. Teach also proper use of a low-level safelight for B&W printing, e.g. not directly illuminating the developer tray.

    No eating and drinking is a hard and fast rule, with the sole exception being of course the glass of scotch that is kept on the shelf just above the sink. You might also want to think about letting them use their iPods in the darkroom after they become more proficient. I favor classical music played through speakers but it keeps my wife awake at night and so have switched to MP3 players and ear-buds. The use of players might be a 'reward' for demonstrating some level of proficiency at developing and printing. Having music in the darkroom makes the time pass much faster and many people find the work much more pleasant.

    For timing things I prefer the GraLab timers with large glow-in-the-dark numerals. Just let the thing run and watch the sweep and minute hands to time processing. Setting alarms and waiting to hear them is a real pain, especially when the iPod is running in your ears.
     
  4. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Have a torch handy...
    Oh alright, joke, joke...
    Safety glasses, if they come in kid-size, are a splendid idea. Additionally, I'd be looking to keep paper in paper safes, safelight switches high up, chemicals in a locked cabinet, electrical cables on (and preferably fastened to) the benchtop, tools, trays etc where only you can access them (in terms of height/reach) and no more than yourself and one other in there at any time when working (so you can divide your attention — however tryingly — between the stop bath and yelling "stop that!" :-0). Ten to 11 year olds are a handful (my nieces are that age!), while 18 year olds are often mistaken by me to be much older!!

    A yearly fee? My goodness, very entrepreneurial! :smile:
     
  5. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    If you plan on having more than one youngster working at any time, it would be a good idea to develop a routine where whenever the white lights are to be turned on, everyone will first check with everyone else there before flipping a switch. Something like a standard announcement: "Okay for lights on?" followed by a definite pause.

    Matt
     
  6. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    My simple rule for all the college students I teach is: Clean Up After Yourself.

    Your students should not be done in the darkroom until the room is clean, and everything is put back in its proper place.
     
  7. ITD

    ITD Subscriber

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    Heh. I still do that when I'm on my own :D
     
  8. lorirfrommontana

    lorirfrommontana Member

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    Cool! Thanks for all the ideas. The fee isn't to make any money for sure. Each of the Kids have to keep track of the expenses of each of their projects and do a financial journal (4H projects) so the fee is basicly just for them to have something to put in their book! I like the idea of only one at a time. Mabey I'll have a sign up sheet for darkroom times so I can give my undivided attention to whoever is in there with me. There is also going to be very little room. My darkroom is about 8 feet square (tiny!) and will have counters in an "L" shape along 2 of the walls. Not much room for any more that 2 of us in there at a time anyway!I want to make a pin hole camera with them so even those that are shooting digital will have at least one or 2 darkroom sessions for the pinhole images. I hope that they get as excited about this adventure as I am! I really think it will be nice for them to have at least one image that they made in the darkroom to show at fair. You have all given me some great ideas!
    Lori
     
  9. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Lori, Here is one rule presented to us by the Dean of Women at the teacher's college I attended in the early 1960s when we finally got a darkroom. I am not making this up. "At least three students in the darkroom at all times; two must be of the same gender."
     
  10. lorirfrommontana

    lorirfrommontana Member

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  11. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    Along the lines of a thought I had, a prominently placed "No Groping" sign.:smile:
     
  12. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    :DWhat if you were a woman trap in a man's body?:D

    Jeff
     
  13. nyoung

    nyoung Member

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    One thing no one's mentioned yet, Rule 1 - EVERY ONE goes potty before entering the darkroom.

    In 20 years teaching high schoolers, one thing is universal, they all need to pee as soon as they get in the dark with running water - especially if you are using a large drippy gurgling print washer.

    If you can, rig a pair of black curtains over the door or figure out a way for them to get out to the bathroom without fogging everyone elses paper and film.
     
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  15. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    *******
    Things were simpler then: this was the EARLY Sixties!!:tongue:
     
  16. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    Label trays #1 (developer), #2 (stop), #3 (fix)...Rule 1 is to NEVER get a higher number solution into a lower number tray, including via wet hands!

    Rule 2...never turn on room lights when any light sensitive material is not inside a light tight container

    Rule 3...never ANY lights when unprocessed film in not inside a light tight container

    I second what MattKing said, and Pinholemaster said particularly!
     
  17. lorirfrommontana

    lorirfrommontana Member

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    I never even though of the bathroom thing! Good plan makeing them go 1st! I will lable my trays with #'s also. Great ideas. Thanks.
     
  18. Frank Nesbitt

    Frank Nesbitt Member

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    What rules should I set for the Darkroom

    I know that you expect only kids to use the work space, but when I managed a darkroom in a nearby community arts center I had another that worked marvelously.

    When the lights are out, no talk about politics or faiths.

    Everybody seemed to approve.
     
  19. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    Eye protection? Maybe they should start requiring that at the salad bar and when they use salt shakers too... It just sounds like my camp where there is a prominent "always wear gloves when processing film!" sign yet I never saw any gloves nor people wearing them. Such methods are at best means with which to quell the fears or overbearing parents...but do as you wish.

    I guess a lot of this depends on what type of program you're running. My first one I attended was one where they showed us the camera, gave us a roll of film, processed as a group, and handed us all paper from the safe for the first day. Later I did a shoot two rolls a week, process and do everything on your own class for a semester.

    I second the "clean up after yourself" rule. Supervision is always nice with kids just starting out. Also have the kids care for their negatives and prints. And do not(!) provide a film washer unless you want your ceiling tiles ruined with "hey watch this!" experiments. Definitely keep small amounts of paper in the paper safe to minimize the fogging issue (it will happen.) If your main concerns are things getting ruined and kids getting hurt, you just need to minimize both. Supervision helps both, I don't know if you can do that though.

    That would make me feel very awkward personally.
     
  20. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    [
    When the lights are out, no talk about politics or faiths.

    Everybody seemed to approve.[/QUOTE]
    ******
    Of course, because they could still talk about the third part of the triad.
     
  21. 8x10Ken

    8x10Ken Member

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    No running and some form of anti slip shoes. It's amazing how many times I've seen people slip on a small spill that went unnoticed.

    Hey that's my first post!!

    Hello world.
     
  22. lorirfrommontana

    lorirfrommontana Member

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    Hey! Great first post! Hello! Non slip shoes is a great idea. My room is so small I don't think running would be possible!!! All of my stuff is very used so I'm not too worried about things getting ruined. This is for a 4H group and I will of course check to see if they have their own rules. I do need to read my book!!! The kids are usually pretty focused on getting their projects done and doing things right so I'm not too worried about them messing around (especially if there is just one or 2 at a time!). I just want it in writeing so I don't hear, "No one told me that", later on! I will also post the rules in the room (not that any one will read them!). I mostly just want to make it fun. I've been looking for a few good books that I can loan out. I've discovered most of my photography books have nudes in them, wich I have no problem letting my children see, but I'm not even going to lend out those books to other peoples kids. Don't need that headache! Any one have good ideas of books to get for my library that are kid appropriate let me know!
    Lori
     
  23. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    Being in a rather formal prep school (with a large darkroom), I can say that horseplay is inevitable in any unsupervised (or supervised) situation. Let's just say the ceiling tiles above the film washer are a little stained :D On the other hand, there haven't been any bad incidents. It's mostly just fooling around and most of the stuff in the darkroom isn't toxic. Speaking of which, DO NOT GET ANY FILM CLEANER! Our school had one called PEC-12 or something which apparently gives chemical burns when sprayed on the bare skin of arms. Air dusters are also a very bad idea (compressed air, freezing liquid, highly flammable, will burn skin on hands when inverted) so I would stick with rubber pump bristled blowing brushes to control dust.

    For a basic textbook suggestion, there's one by Henry Horenstein called "A basic manual" that our school uses. It gives you a good basic understanding of everything involved in the basic 35mm film process and touches on other formats.
     
  24. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    With developer deposits I presume... What happens in chemistry classes?

    Tom.
     
  25. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    ***********

    Ok, who ammoniated the iodine.......?
     
  26. lorirfrommontana

    lorirfrommontana Member

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    Thanks for the textbook suggestion. I'll add it to my library.