Is it hard to setup a darkroom?
It all seems kind of daunting, I love shooting film, and a friend gave me his enlargers etc... I just dont know what to do with them and how to set them up in a normal house.
Or given I have a large format printer (24"), should I just not bother?
Warning: developing and printing your own pictures may lead to a lifelong addiction!
Just start, trial and error etc. Lots of people here that are more than willing to answer your specific questions.
Digital is best taken with a grain of silver.
There are some simple books on how to set up a darkroom as well lots of threads on this site. good books- The Darkroom Handbook (Dennis Curtin and Joe DeMaio) - Darkroom 2(lustrum press).. These books helped me in all stages of setting up darkrooms, I have made a few!!!!
There is nothing more peaceful than watching a print emerge in the tray with the red lights on a good sound track going and a half dozen old milwalkees to amuse yourself.
You do not need a lot of space , go to the darkroom portrait thread and you will see some pretty ingenious designs.
I encourage you to try this, I also have a large format printer, but I can tell you there is no comparison between the experience and the final output of a darkroom to inkjet.
Search the darkroom portraits thread (in the darkoom section). There are lots of photographs of home darkrooms. Lots of folks have temporary darkrooms that set up and take down easily. Be creative. If you have a place to work where you can leave your enlarger set up all the time you will be more likely to use it. For years I would carry my enlarger in and out of a bathroom. Fortunately, (after a small addition to the house) I now have a closet in that bathroom where it can stay permanently. Everything else still has to be set up and taken down each session, but I print at least twice a week.
It's a lot of fun, but as noted above, maybe a little too much fun.
A small functional darkroom is not hard to set up. If you look for books on darkroom design from the 70s and 80s you will find lots of options, from a closets to built in darkrooms. If would ask myself the following questions:
1. How often will I use it?
2. How much space do I have?
3. How much do I have spend on plumbing, electrical, ventilation?
4. What else to I need (other than an enlarger) to set up a dark room?
5. What will the operating expenses be?
The one advantage of a digital system is you can stop to attend thaings that come up. When you are in the darkroom you are in the darkroom.
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If an idiot like me can do it, anyone can GO FOR IT!
Exactly why I love the darkroom!
Originally Posted by Paul Howell
While it is true that you can simply stop doing the digital work, do you want to. Once you are deeply into something, do you want to be disturbed.
I will occasionally answer the phone in the darkroom. I can usually continue processing a print while on the phone. But, I am also happy to tell callers that I can't talk because I'm working in the darkroom.
My darkroom is 35 sq. ft. It has a dry side with Beseler 23c and a D2, The wet side is actually a counter top I built myself and a laundry sink. Because each side is only 5 ft. in length, I built a tray stack to process 11x14's. I could probably use it for 16x20, but it would be tight.
It has plumbing and a darkroom fan and was built by partitioning a utility room.
I paid for the lumber, laundry sink, adorama darkroom fan, white paneling and prehung door. I scrounged the cabinets at the landfill (someone was dumping 1980's kitchen cabinets after a renovation) and made the counter tops out of a damaged 4x8 sheet of Melanine type shelving ($19) and some nice oak trim.
All of that said, my first darkroom in the 80's was a temporary one in a bathroom. It worked fine for the time.
It's *really* easy and needn't take much space.
As you've already got the kit why not give it a try? If you find you don't like it then you can always go back to your printer. Alternatively you may end up like me and be even happier to print than shoot!
The best darkroom-setup-and-printing-manual I've seen (by a long way) is Tim Rudman's "The Photographer's Master Printing Course" (ISBN 1-85732-407-2). Don't let the title put you off; he starts from the (very) basics and even has some example darkroom layouts in there. The book then goes into basic printing methods and on into more advanced controls, but remains very readable throughout (and no, I'm not on commission!).
Again, why not give it a try?
It's dead simple and IMHO well worth it. I'm lucky and happen to be able to do basic carpentry so I created a 6x6 ft room in my basement. The ideas for the dry-side counter and wet-side sink all came from 'Build Your Own Home Darkroom' which I got for a few dollars on Amazon.
You already have the most expensive stuff, which is the enlarger etc...Now you just need to build a space.
Max Power, he's the man who's name you'd love to touch! But you mustn't touch! His name sounds good in your ear, but when you say it, you mustn't fear! 'Cause his name can be said by anyone!