Why a home darkroom?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by joeyk49, Aug 1, 2004.

  1. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    I've read a number of threads regarding how what many members have done to create a workable darkroom in their own home, flat, apartment, gym locker, whathaveyou...

    My question is: If there was a location in your locale that had above average to excellent darkroom facilities available to both the amatuer and professional alike, would you take advantage of this.

    Say, for instance, that your local high school or community college offered their facilities to the ublic at a reasonable fee. Would you use it or stay with the home based and home made darkroom? If a camera shop opened its darkroom to photographers, would you rent time there, or would you stay home, and why?

    It just seems to me that many of the members defer to their home based dark rooms (I am currently constructing one of my own.) and I'm wondering if its because they can choose which enlargers, etc. to use or if its because notheing else is available to them?

    Waddayathink?
     
  2. jovo

    jovo Membership Council

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    Too easy a question!! I've finally got a dedicated darkroom of my own and I'd never use another unless I were away from home or a rental/community one had some equipment or the like (20x24 trays, easel, and washer for example) that I don't. The luxury of going into my own little in house cocoon is waaaay too cozy and seductive to relinquish for anywhere else.

    Another aspect of course, is that I can be and am careful and attentive in the maintainance of the darkroom and its' equipment; I doubt any other would experience that same degree of care.

    Congratulations on the future completion of your own 'nest'. You'll love it!!
     
  3. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Can only comment on my own situation, I could have taken classes and used the darkroom at a community college, but time and distance were a problem. With a darkroom at home it is much easier to just grab an hour here or there and get something done. That, plus the fact, it keeps me motivated to continue working on a given negative/print ... something an external darkroom would make more difficult.

    Besides, I Love It!! No worries about digital this or that, why do it this way, why use this developer or that paper...it's all set up the way I want.
     
  4. Sjixxxy

    Sjixxxy Member

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    Home darkroom = Not having to wait around or come back later after to pick up stuff after it had a chance to dry. I used to use a blotter book for prints, but that just ended up being one more thing I had to carry around when working in one that didn't have lockers.

    Though public darkrooms are fun just because there are other like-minded people around to communicate with. Just as long as you don't work in the same area as the photo I students who tend to cross contaminate everything. :D
     
  5. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    I just can't visualize myself carting all my chemicals and papers to a darkroom where I will need to concentrate on a project and work around others trying to do the same thing. - When I get started on a (1) print - it may take hours for me to take it where I want it to go. Plus my preferred list of equipment is likely not in a public darkroom. Will they have a condenser enlarger head installed? Will they have the press I need or the glass carriers I won't work without. I do my color in a pro lab down the street and it is always a comprimise on what is there, what works - That is because most facilites are geared to commercial quality which is often different than art quality.
     
  6. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    I would say the darkroom is an extension of the camera. Just like learning to use and become comfortable with your camera, it is important to be comfortable when making the print. Perhaps even more important, as it is in the darkroom where we make the "performance." Being comfortable in the darkroom allows you to try more things, experiment, etc. Things that normally one would not try on a public darkroom due to time or other external pressures. Taking pictures without having a darkroom is like drinking champagne in a Styrofoam cup. It can be done, but somehow just does not feel right....:smile:
     
  7. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    Wow! With unanimous consent, I will extend and revise my remarks...

    Go Private Darkrooms!

    I got the idea that I needed to develop and print my own stuff when my prints were coming back from the commercial lab with some really nasty imperfections. Dirty rollers or contamination, which ruined my negs...repeatedly!

    But I can't help but wonder... for the same reason that many photographers rent lenses from camera shops, why not rent dark room equipment? Does it even exist? If I want to experiment with a particular process or lens or paper, why not rent it or buy it in smaller quantities, before I decide if I like the equipment of process, etc.

    The control and care taking issues are EXTREMELY valid points. Nobody takes care of my stuff like I do. But the economics of the issue keep nagging at me...
     
  8. noblebeast

    noblebeast Member

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    When I am in the darkroom I don't like to watch the hour hand on the clock - just the second and minute hands. There is a local darkroom rental facility quite close to my home, but their hourly rate seems exorbitant. They do offer a pre-pay monthly rate that was, when I last checked, in the neighborhood of $185 dollars and had limits on the amount of time one could spend there. For about fifty dollars less than the monthly fee at the rental place I was able to acquire everything I needed on Ebay to set up a darkroom at home, except for a dust/fur free place to dry film. That I was able to build out of spare plywood and about another twenty-five bucks at the hardware store for an exhaust fan and other small necessaries. As Jorge said, one has to become intimately comfortable with the equipment to really do one's best - you just can't do that with other people's stuff.
     
  9. galyons

    galyons Member

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    Joey,
    I am just completing a 2 year home darkroom project. For me, there are three main reasons...control, convenience and control. I have used community, school and "for rent" darkrooms. It is nice to have the company, but I found it very difficult to work "my way". A fully functional personal darkroom is heaven sent!!

    Cheers,
    Geary
     
  10. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    Control freaks, one and all

    Gaylons:

    By the way, thanks again. The tank will probably get rechristened in about a weeks time...

    All:

    It sounds as though there is a well established consensus for processing your own stuff.

    Now here comes the strange part...

    My plans entail having me convert a small bathroom (about 3.75' x 6') in to my darkroom. This should prove interesting. It's in the basement, easily sealed from extraneous light sources, has running water, a drain and a vent fan. The only detraction is the size of the room. I've got to get real creative in my engineering.

    I plan to used temporary shelving and wall/chair rail mouldings for support. I will probably have to use 3/4 of the avalable space in the room.

    Does anyopne else have similar experiences with their own dark rooms? How about sharing your sucessful darkroom configurations with the rest of us? Post photos? Hey, there's a photo challenge... you, self portrait, in your darkroom....now how do we do this with available light...LOL....

    Joe
     
  11. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    We have one bathroom in our little Manhattan apartment, so I wheel my enlarger in and out, bring trays in and out, etc. The more I do it, the more efficient the setup gets. I've used shared darkrooms, but I prefer to have control over the chemistry, to be sure everything is clean, and such.
     
  12. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    When you rent a lens, you take it with you and use it when you want it, even if it is 3 o'clock in the morning. I always had my own darkroom, even if it was a walk-in closet without running water. For a while, the upstairs bath in my home was "bath by appointment only" for the other 7 members of my family. I am by nature a night owl as I implied above, so there was not often a conflict, but I do remember some screams of anger from one of my daughters early i the morning after I had left prints washing in the tub.
     
  13. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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  14. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    I got started on a college evening course in their darkroom...

    The kit had all been "studented", the safe lights weren't and there was no provision for FB work at all. Towards the end I was lugging my own contact frames, easels, timer, lens, finder, etc., etc. into the college for each session and, because of the safe light problem, was still getting very poor results.

    The only thing I *did* get out of it was a regular three-hour period every week when I would always have a darkroom session. I miss that...
     
  15. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    The one time I've been in a communal darkroom ( I was giving a quick introduction to "advanced" printing), I brought my own enlarger. I figured that was the safest way to be able to show how to go from raw print to real picture in two hours. Then I wouldn't have to waste time trying to adjust the enlarger, clean the lens, adjust the enlarger, find the exposure, adjust the exposure, firnd the filter settings, adjust the settings, adjust the exposure and so on.
     
  16. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    When I was young and single, this dilemma posed itself in another form. For me it was should I get married or should I just continue to use hookers. Now using hookers definitely has it's advantages- you only have to have them around when you want them, you share the cost for their upkeep with a number of other renters, you don't have to meet their parents etc.

    On the other hand having a wife, means that you don't have to wander out in the middle of the night when you wish to use their services, they are relatively well looked after because they don't become worn out or broken from too many renters, you don't have to adjust to the design or equipment over again as they have become familiar, and they often have other uses as well.

    So when one weighs all the pros and cons. (sorry) One probably comes away with the opinion that a wife is preferable to the rental and has many more years of service.

    Just one mans opinion

    Michael McBlane
     
  17. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    Analogies...

    Darkrooms and ladies of the night...I never would have put the two together.

    Michael: Point well made (like a two x four to the forehead).

    So, if I get this right...Both have their good attributes, but anyone serious about what their doing would stick with the later and not the former???

    Joe
     
  18. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Member

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    Not to sound too selfish and mean, but having my own darkroom means not having to share with anyone else. Not having to share their chemical spills, not having to share the equipment they break, not having to share the mess they make, etc.... And on the flipside, if I make a mess of my darkroom, I can leave it messy without worrying that I'm bothering someone else. It's my very own space, and that means I can personalize it to suit my work the best.
     
  19. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    I can wear or not wear what I want in my own darkroom. It also doesn't bother anyone else if I fart and pollute the atmosphere.
     
  20. bmac

    bmac Member

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    OMG!
     
  21. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    I haven't read the whole thread, so if I'm repeating anyone's post, sorry...

    The reason I switched, and have lived happier ever since, from a college darkroom to my darkroom is simple: I was sick and tired of dealing with all the B.S. that goes into a community darkroom.

    Community darkrooms means losing prints and films because someone who either doesn't know any better, or simply doesn't care, will mess up the chemicals. Or they will open up the film dryer and stick pounds of dust into the wet emulsion of your film. Or they will bend/tear your prints as they slosh theirs around in the tray. It's just a major PITA.

    Having my own means using the chemicals I want to, to fit the paper I buy. Ditto for films. It means not having to focus my enlarger from frame to frame, because the thing doesn't move when I take the negative out (as opposed to the college's, which slid down if you breathed on it). It means that my work will be that much more consistent, because the chemicals are always the same (no more doubling the exposure time to deal with exhausted developer just because it's saturday and I'm the only one there, so I have to use Friday's chemicals.

    My own darkroom means no bitching from lab assistants/managers/watchamacallit because they have someone else's boots half way up their rectum. It means printing till I want to quit, not quitting when they want to close.

    Sure, there's the cost in chemicals, and the initial investment in equipment. But it's worth it.
     
  22. rjs003

    rjs003 Member

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    I once did a cost analysis of the Hooker vs Wife thing. Now this was during a divorce in which I was personally involved and I may have been somewhat biased but the hooker was the more economical choice. Now I grant you that was fifteen years ago and I'm sure prices have changed but the low cost option would be to rent... so to speak.
    Now when it comes to darkrooms I don't share...I own my own.
    By the way I'm presently married to a very lovely lady... and I'm not sharing her either.
     
  23. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Looks like most things have been said, so all I'll add is a home darkroom gives you total control and that is a investment worth making if your serious about your photography :smile:

    rj Think the cost may be way out of my range now though and legal costs would be very high for custody battle of my negatives LOL
     
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