Blackout material for darkroom
I've been looking for a way to set up my darkroom during daylight hours, so I can print during the long rainy days we get up here, (Highlands) but the specialised vinyl stuff is too expensive. It has to be easily put up and taken off, as I don't want to be in the dark except when printing, as its my one-room bedsit which I convert. Night time is no problem, as I'm in the middle of nowhere, but keeping the daylight out is pretty much impossible on a temporary basis. I've got one large single window about a metre square, so that should make it a bit easier than several smaller ones.Anyone got any tips? What do you guys use? I've seen some cheap roller blinds from Argos for £13 which I could cut to size and tack or tape to the window frame, but I doubt if that would be 100% effective.
Thank you for your help.
I used a darkroom that had a thick length of black felt over the door. If you're really concerned about light leaks, I'd get the blinds, as they are probably vinyl or plastic of some sort if they're the ones I'm thinking of, and then pin a length of black felt bigger than the window over that.
One possibility is using thin (approx 5-6mm) plywood. 3 sheets, each long enough to fit snugly in the window frame top to bottom. Each just slightly less than 1/2 the width of the window. The third sheet covers up the gap between the other 2.
The reason for 3, instead of one full size sheet, is that it's easier to put up and take down. Plus easier to store. You might want to paint the sheets flat black to minimize any reflections between the top and bottom sheets.
For this to work you need a reasonably snug fit at sides, top, and bottom. Fabric, wrapped around the outside edges on the plywood, can help.
"Far more critical than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know." - Eric Hoffer
Black mulching plastic.
The thick stuff blocks out all light for me. I made two walls for a darkroom once by just tacking up mulching plastic and weighting the bottom end down with 2x4's.
Carefully cut heavy cardboard from a big box works well and is real cheap. You can trim the edges with felt, or possibly good old duct tape, if necessary for a better light seal.
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I use what is typically called "Contractors' cleaning bag". It's an oversized and thick black garbage bag. When they are layered two bags (thus 4 sheets), they are light tight. Then I use combination of painters' tape and duct tape to seal the leak around the edges. It has worked for me very well for few years.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
John Lewis in London used to have special darkroom blackout material. That's what I got when I was there. I cut it to size, put velcro all around the cloth and the window frame and simply stuck it up for printing sessions. However, light is quite obstinate, it still goes through in between the velcro. A heavy curtain on top dealt with that.
You live in a wonderful part of the world. I was fascinated with Glen Coe. We hiked over the saddle point between Buachaille Etive Mòr and Buachaille Etive Beag.
Use black duvetyne. (AKA: "commando cloth.")
Duvetyne can be bought in swatches 54", 60" or 78" wide and any length up to a full bolt, 100 yds. long.
You can get it at any theatrical supply house such as BMI Supply: http://www.bmisupply.com/index.htm
Buy the 16 oz. fire retardant kind. It's a bit more expensive but it's heavier and more opaque so you won't have to use it in double layers.
I blacked out the window in my basement darkroom by taking a 1/2" thick piece of blue Insul-Board (construction grade polystyrene insulating board) and wrapping it with dyvetyne.
Cut the board a little bit smaller than the window frame. Wrap the fabric around the board but leave some extra fabric hanging loose all around the edges. Push the board into the window then use a putty knife or a stick to stuff the excess cloth into the gap between the window frame and the board. Leave enough fabric hanging off the board so that you can get a good packing all the way around.
My darkroom window is completely blacked out. When the lights are dim, you would never even know that there is a window there.
The neat thing about this is that you can take it out of the window when you don't need it and stash it in the closet or behind the sofa. It's very light, easy to carry and it only takes about 3 minutes to install or remove.
If you don't want to use duvetyne you can use any kind of heavy cloth. Even an old wool blanket. The difference is that duve is made for blocking light. If you get good quality, heavyweight stuff you won't have to use two layers. If you use a blanket, be sure to check to see that the cloth is opaque before you commit.
I use duvetyne everywhere. I use it to black out windows. I made a darkcloth out of it. I keep a 3-foot piece of it in my camera case for when I need to unload a camera in bright light. (Just drape it over your lap while you work.) I stapled a strip of it over the hinge side of my darkroom door to keep the light from leaking in around the frame. It also makes great backdrops for photographing subjects where you want a dead black background.
I placed black self-adhesive draught-excluding tape on the wall around the outside of the window. In my case there was a window sill, so I had to screw a baton of 10mm x 44mm cross section wood onto the windowsill so that it was flush with the wall to allow me to place the draught excluding tape all around the window, all flush to one surface. I hold a piece of 10mm thick plywood against the draught excluding tape with 6 bolts that protrude from the wall through holes in the ply. Importantly, the holes should be outside the draught excluding tape, so that light from the window can't seep through the holes. I use 6 nuts to compress the plywood against the draught excluding tape - it compresses down from about 10mm (uncompressed) to about 5 mm when compressed. This works very well and the ply can easily be removed (you could secure it with butterfly nuts so you don't need a spanner to remove it).
A very effective, efficient and not-too-expensive option is triple pass fabric. It is usually light in colour, but it is totally light proof.