Now THIS is why I love this forum! I asked the same question on the DPUG group, and they just didn't see it the same way. They wondered what benefit it would be to have a great big sink next to the double-processor Mac G5 tower.
Like Steve, I currently have to schlep chemicals and trays and a small archival washer every single time I set up. I weigh out Amidol, sulfite, bifisulfite, bromide, etc on a small scale on the kitchen counter every time. I use pyro liquids in the kitchen because the spots turn green and are easy to clean, but I refuse to mix pyro powder on the kitchen counter, so I go to Per Volquartz's house down the street for that, as well as tray inspection developing. And, this is kind of funny, but the reason I have become such a dedicated Azo user isn't because of the wonders of the paper, but the fact that I don't have to enlarge it and it is so damn slow the neighboors' houselights don't fog it through the kitchen window! Don't get me wrong...even in the new room I would use nothing else for the 8x10 negatives, the stuff is SO good. I just got into it by necessity and not by art.
So if I do this, it will be in the back of the garage. I envision a space with a long plywood/boat painted sink, a deeper sink for the archival washer, my enlarger (Saunders dichroic 4x5, so it's pretty big) in a corner, and a long counter. I wonder about UV lighting but I have yet to do Pt/Pd and just don't know. I'd hate to put it in and never use it, and I'd hate to NOT put it in and then become a fan of the process. I also envision a space outside the darkroom with a counter for the drymount press and framing, both of which I do myself (by lugging stuff to the dining room table, as it is now).
You offer a lot of encouragement. I REALLY appreciate it. What a community we have here...
I'd suggest spending some time looking at your water quality/temp and how to control it.
Where I live, the water is so hard that it is just one step below wet concrete. Nasty stuff photographically. I use distilled for most of my alt process stuff because of this. You may want to consider an R/O unit or a softener. Or just having it as an option (ie: do the plumbing so you can just plug one in). It sounds like you are happy with the tap water as it is now, but that can change. Here they switched water supplies and the water got much harder. Always good to have options, and the cost would be a couple of bucks to simply add the connectors.
Temp will be more important to you. Seriously consider plumbing something in for temp control. Even to the point of adding your own heating unit. Running off of the main hot water tank could be a problem if others in the house do something like take a shower or run the dishwasher.
Speaking of heating, also make sure the room you are using won't get too hot or too cold for you. We have one room in my house that is either too cold or too hot (usually the later considering where I live) unless we leave the door wide open. As far as I have been able to tell, this is simply due to the way the heating/cooling system works. Most homes seem to have one room like this. Since leaving the door open is not an option, make sure the room is comfortable. If it isn't figure out how to make it comfortable! You will be sinking some bucks into this, and there is no point in being uncomfortable in it!
Oh, and get the best fan you can. More fan than you think you need is probably the best way to go. I have heard more people say they wish they had gotten a better fan than anything else when it comes to darkrooms.
Maybe I just worry too much, but when it comes to what things are harmless or deadly to the critters, I always assume the worst. I don't know if it was mentioned, but ventilation and a good exhaust fan would be important too. The fumes usually smell terrible, and I would not want to take a chance, given some of the warnings I've read about cyanide fumes, etc. Better safe than sorry. Even the harmless stuff stinks something awful.
I was just making light about my cat drinking pyro earlier. I love her and wouldn't want anything to go amiss because of something that could have been prevented. Besides, I think that my cat is smarter then me most days.
Come to think of it, maybe it was me that drank that stuff...it went somewhere...just here a minute ago...
Actually, glow in the dark cats would be kind of cool http://apug.org/forum/html/emoticons/smile.gif
I have complete darkroom (and I have 6 computers in another room for my duties in the computer industry). Being in the computer industry for so long has gotten me too bored to sit in front of the boxes all day and pound away. I have a Mac (yes, only ONE...I hate Macs) in my darkroom for an MP3 player (and I have a database I wrote for it to catalog my negs and keep track of exposure data/darkroom data).
Other than that, my darkroom is set up for B&W RC, B&W Fiber, RA-4, P-30/R-3000, C-41, E-6 and has a bunch of roller-transport equipment in it. This is, of course, in a room of my house. To this day, I cannot stand the look of a digital print, whether off my color laser, dye-sub or a C print from any lab. I just think they look too...uh, digital.
So, I still print all my work through wet process. My commercial work goes to a lab, of course, but my personal work is done by hand.
My personal "forecast" for the future is that "consumer" film and minilabs will die the way CGA graphics did. Why? Because it is more "effective" for the consumer to shoot their 2-4MP digitals and print it on their desktop with PSLE or ULead PI with some Epson...and to a point, more controlable and cost-effective (at least in their mind). Then, "pro digital" will push into the photojournalism field and into the "quick stop and shot" portrait studios as well as bulk-production studios (school pics, Olan Mills type studios, commercial and advertising (look at the Sinar backs for product work!), etc). Which will make film-based work a "fine-art" specialist field.
Everybody will scramble to become digital, and as the "older folks" (I mean old-school here, not old-age) who are so good with film die off, people will begin to revert to the look of film (warmer, less pixelated, less of a Crayola palette, etc) and people will begin to look for "specialists" in film-based imaging. That is when those of us who "kept up the craft" will be in demand ($$$!!)
I surprise a lot of people when they ask me what cool digital I have since I've been working with Photoshop since version 2.5/3.0 and I do a lot of work in Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere and Macromedia Dreamweaver, Flash, and Shockwave. I tell them "I can't stand digital. I think it is so lifeless. To me it isn't photography..."photo + Grafos"="a writing of light". To me, digital is an electrograph (electro + grafos). "
They always say "you must have some digital camera!" Nope, I have a Betacam SP, LCD monitors, my Hassys, and soon to be, a new Wisner (hopefully, 4x10!)
My advice to many of my clients who ask me the question of "should I go digital?" is to learn digital, and keep up with it, but not to forget the root of where the principles originated (and keep up with them too).
Computers will get cheaper, trust me. You'll be able to buy a whole "digital studio" for around $1000.00 in a year or two. But, I feel that the "analogue darkroom" equipment will go up as it becomes some sort of cult function.
So, David, I'd say...buy yourself a good wet darkroom now (friends of mine at a camera shop are getting truckloads of "studios going digital", "home darkroom going digital", and "selling my _____ to get a new D1_" gear in. You can always "amend" the darkroom later when you feel that digital is the appropriate tool (and you can afford a good, non-consumer version) for what you need to do.
BTW, look at how many "hacks" there are now in the wedding industry who are shooting 40-200 pictures with their K1000 and WalMart flashes, or with their ____ 4MP digitals & printing the pics on their inkjets, who are "competing" with the real wedding photographers for jobs. Sadder yet, look how many of them are actually getting jobs!
That tells me what the consumer is expecting in terms of quality. I think the consumers have been "herded" so much into the thinking that since their wally-world pictures from yesteryear match their digitals from their desktop, that what they're getting IS pro-grade work!
I learned weddings from a pro who worked many, many years. I took what I learned, and developed my own style, but with the same courtesy, professionalism, and skill that I learned from the "old-schooler". Then, between what I've seen lately and what one can read on Photo-net with the "I was told that my snapshots at my _____'s wedding were better than the Pro's, so I'm shooting one next week for $300 and I need to know what to do..." type questions, I feel that just like the computer industry, the photo industry is going to crash to some lowly-form of life.
In the computer industry, we get idiots who buy a $600.00 computer and expect her to live for 5+ years. Maybe if it was 1982. Not today. Then, they complain that their 19xx Gankway box won't cut video, but they installed a 1394 Firewire card in it and "'The' Windows is the newest I could find", but the video still skips, take 9 hours to compile, etc.
Oh, well, I'm feeling too much like a philosopher now...time to quit.
I love the passion. And I think you make a lot of sense. I keep trying to look for analogies in other media, since everything always seems to follow the same basic path. I think of BW filmstock, which probably followed exactly what you describe for analog/digital: it must have been VERY cheap when all the studios went color, yet I heard that when Schindler's List was made, the film was MUCH more expensive than color would have been. I think of film vs video in TV, which probably also went exactly as you describe photgraphy, except now you can spend thousands to get an Avid machine that makes your video look like film.
Off your main point...why do you have all the color stuff in that room of your house? Is it that you can do the work significantly better than a lab (film, not prints)?
And as for the Wisner...get the 8x10 and either crop or cut a darkslide. Then you get a bigger negative when you need one, and you have two formats with one camera without having to change a back.
Thank you again for the very well thought out response.