Good morning all,
I am gathering the required equipment to make my bathroom into a temporary darkroom. My bathroom is actualy setup pretty well for printing and loading film onto the reel. There are two doors, one leading in from the hallway and the other is seperating the vanity from the tub and toilet. With both doors shut, there is no light at all. My idea is to have the enlarger on the wall opposite from the vanity and my print chem and washing in the tub. Should the mirror be covered? I am not sure if reflecting light will effect the print. I am not sure if one or two safelights would be needed, one for printing and the second for the baths. The room is roughly 4.5' by 12'. The sectioned area is rougly 5.5' by 4.5'.
Over the past few months, I've picked up a Durst F60 enlarger, Time-O-Lite GR72 timer and a premier 4 in one easel. The next item on my list is a safelight. I plan on using VC paper. What is the difference between an orange "OC?" and red safelight? Also, I hear both good and bad about the bulbs that have the red coating on them. Would I be better off getting one that has a filter?
At the moment, I plan to print 5x7 and 8x10. What would be a recommended tray size?
if the largest you want to print is 8 by 10, get 11 by 14 trays so the prints can slosh back and forth a bit and will be easier to get out.
Get print tongs so you don't have to be putting your fingers in the chemistry.
Don't worry about covering the mirror -- reflected dark does not hurt prints, and there will be very little light from the enlarger flying around to worry about.
I have two safelights -- one between the enlarger and the paper safe so i can see what I'm doing there, and one over the trays.
Shop around for safelights -- the paper you use will tell you what is the best color, but the danger is not large if your particular safelight is not precisely the right one. Most safelights now are more orange than bright red. Years ago I used a small candle four feet away for a safelight and it worked fine.
Now I have one that uses LEDs and can be switched for three different types of paper... but my other over the trays is a standard very old filtered light with a low-wattage bulb in it. Both are orangish. The kind with filters and regular bulbs will be easier in the long-run because, when the bulb burns out, it is cheaper to replace.
I had been wondering the same thing about reflected light since I will be setting up a bathroom as a darkroom as well.
I'm assuming the mirror would cause problems with any stray light coming from the enlarger, but also wonder if the enlarger should be shielded in general. There are a lot of non-black surfaces in a bathroom, and some stray light could bounce off a wall or cabinet and create fog.
My thought is to cover the mirror and to get a large piece of cardboard box to make a foldable "wall" or baffle on three sides of the enlarger; painting the cardboard matt black.
Also, be very sure the doors alone block enough light. You only need a little bit to mess things up - and you may not notice that little bit unless you sit in the darkened room for 15-20 minutes so your eyes adjust. I'll be using some black-out plastic to makes sure no light gets through the cracks in the doors.
With how the two doors are located, they are 90 deg from each other. When I load film into my tank, i shut both doors and block the bottom with towels. There is no light at all, it turns into a giant changing bag.
See the attached photo of my bathroom darkroom - note that the entire 4' x 8' wall above the vanity is a mirror. The Beseler enlarger pictured is now in storage and an Omega D6 on a really large cart is in its place, but otherwise what you see is what I have been using since I started on APUG.
The mirror is only a problem if you have too much light in the darkroom in the first place.
If I had to have the enlarger right up against the mirror, I would cover a portion of the mirror, but it is six feet away. I get fog free results.
There are two doors into my bathroom. I've put some light, easily removable, weather stripping into each opening, and I block the area at the bottom of each door with a rolled up towel.
When I am loading film into cassettes or on to reels, I am careful to check on whether incoming lights are fully blocked. If I let my eyes acclimatize, I can perceive a faint lighter area around the doors, but I cannot see anything else in the room, and I always load film with my back to the door. I have had no problems with light leaks or fogging.
When I am printing, the doors alone block almost all the light. The towels and the weather stripping are only really necessary on sunny days or when I have all the lights turned on in the rooms outside the bathroom. Here too, I have had no problems with light leaks or fogging.
With a reasonable amount of care and attention to detail, you should be fine.
Have fun - I certainly do.
I used to hang my safelight in front of the bathroom mirror. Provided the safelight is safe (colour and brightness), you may as well bounce it around the room. A small light painted room should not need more than one safelight. The real problem with small temporary spaces is that the easy ways to block light also block airflow. Make sure you ventilate the space periodically.
When I used a bathroom I had a raised bench surface that went over the bath. This made the working height much nicer. Not quite as easy to store as a simple flat surface, though.
I'd recommend keeping the enlarger out of the bathroom if at all possible. The bathroom is the most humid area in the house and is prone to some nasty odors :( at times.
When I first got my enlarger I too placed it in the bathroom but quickly moved it across the hall to a large and otherwise unoccupied corner of the bedroom and taped tow large black 3mil contractors trash bags to the L-shaped corner to absorb any stray light from the enlarger. Perfect: out of the way and away from excessive moisture. When I expose a sheet of paper I place it in a paper safe and walk it across the hall to the bathroom where the developing trays are set up, close the door and process the paper. I have a Thomas safelight set-up in the bathroom and a small 5x7 safelight in the bedroom which gives me just enough light to see where the box of paper, easel, and papersafe is. When the prints are ready for final wash, I bring them into the kitchen where I have a 11x14 Versalab print hooked up in the sink. For prints larger than 11x14, the final wash is in a 20x24 Gravity Works washer in the shower.
I also have a large vanity mirror in the bathroom which I cover with a large black trash bag when unloading 4x5 and 8x10 film into Jobo drums for processing or when tray processing sheet film. Any light that enters will eventually reflect off the mirror. I even remove my white T-shirt at times. Except for the entry door, my bathroom has no other way for light to enter and I block it completely. Yet I can usually barely make out my moving fingers in front of my face.
I could use the guest bedroom. I only have one window to worry about and the door will not be too hard to make light-tight. My enlarger is already sitting in the guest closet, sadly not a walk in like the master. I wonder if i can swap out the bulb in my floor lamp with a safelight bulb. I do like the idea of not hogging the bathroom, oh and not feeling too confined. :)
Are there other options instead of buying a paper safe? At work, we have some sturdy boxes that have the flap that you undo from the front. Im not sure if those are 100% light tight, but a bag could be made to make it light tight.
I second keeping the enlarger out of the bathroom. Besides the moisture issue, I worry about the enlarger getting out of alignment moving it in and out of the bathroom.
In my case, I don't have any option. The only room available is the bathroom - I've no 2nd bedroom or other convertible space.
And while the moisture issue is there, so is the exhaust fan which is specifically designed to exhaust moisture.
If the OP has flexible, re-purposable space elsewhere I'd say go to it. But if not, a good bathroom works well too.
12 x 16 is the largest size I print regularly, but I can and have done 16 x 20.