I spend a considerable amount of time in the darkroom, but am still interested in Tips and Tricks to make the work better or more streamlined.
For instance, I worked for years while standing up at the enlarger. With the addition of a 138S to my darkroom, with it's adjustable enlarging platform, the first thing I did was to bring a chair into the darkroom. This made the work not only less fatiguing, but more comfortable, and slowed me down a bit, giving myself time to consider all the possibilities.
What I still have not perfected is a record keeping system for the darkroom work. Sure Imake notes of what lens, f-stop, time and contrast was used, but that's it. Maybe it's enough.
I'd love to hear some of your ideas...
Have you tried the Calumet Zone VI darkroom record sheet? or maybe Lynn Radeka's printing sheets? Either one are very simple to copy or make on your own. They have squares where you write your dodging or burning times. Of course they also have information lines for Developer, enlarger height, enlarger lens f/stop, temperature, date printed, film, print developer type and dilution. Just go through the steps you follow and make a spread sheet. Cheaper than buying the records...
I use a dictating machine to make the initial records and then write it up later into an ordinary notebook. It suits me anyway.
I do agree about a chair in the darkroom - just a three or four hour darkroom session leaves me feeling like I've done a full day's work.
But my most useful accessory has to be an electric fan. I've never worked out why the simple act of switching off the main room lights seems to make the ambient temperature rise, or how it instantly returns to normal when I switch them on again and read my thermometers.
An electric fan?
Aren't you concerned that you'll stir up dust?
I also use a fan but it is one of those home HEPA filters that I keep running continuously even when I am not there. When it gets hot, I turn up the speed dial so that it blows on me for cooling.
I live in a dry climate and I have very little dust problem since I started using this unit. The rest of the house is quite dusty.
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Has anyone tried, or does anyone use a digital thermometer?
I'm also thinking about installing a faucet with a built in thermostat. Keeping a relatively constant temperature control on the wash water is a real pain...I looked at them at the hardware store today, and they run about $100 for a decent one. It would however help to eliminate one more variable.
William, digital thermometers? Isn't this an analog website? Just kidding. I became very impatient when I reached geezerhood. Threw out all my old analog thermometers because they were very slow to stabilize on the exact temp. After trying a few digital thermometers, I settled on a relatively inexpensive stem- type. It has a built-in shut off switch that saves on battery power. It responds to temp. changes rapidly. I don't recommend the types that have LED displays. I think they would fog fast film if held too close. As to your second point, the tap water in my part of the world seldom runs below seventy degrees F. A temp. control faucet would not be useful here, because it is only capable of mixing hot water with cold tap water. My tap water is too warm to begin with. However, when I lived in the mountains of Oregon, the tap water ran at fifty degrees F most of the time, and an automatic temp. controlled mixing faucet would have been a blessing there.
As far as records in the darkroom go, I keep pertinent printing info on the back of a proof print including exposure info, paper used, developer/dilution/time and info on toning, bleaching etc. I will either use a grease pencil and make notations on the print about dodoging, burning, filtration etc. Sometimes a seperate paper clipped to the print contains additional info.
In a notebook I keep a list of prints made, numbers and sizes of each and date neg exposed and date of first printing.
One thing I did in my darkroom was to install lamp on a pivioting and telescoping arm over my sink and trays. I have about 8' of area so the arm allows me to have a consistent light source over any area of the sink.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
Here's a few wonderful devices that make me wonder why I didn't install them many years ago....
A Jobo processor.
A magnetic stirrer.
I do keep pertinent information on the negative sleeve as far as exposure time, contrast filter and burning and dodging is concerned. I do not keep track of the development times because of the fact that there are too many variables in my darkroom ettiquet to make them truly consistant, meaning for example, I do not mix fresh developer for each session, so the strength is going to be different in any case, I don't have a rigid temperature control for the baths, again a variable introduced.
A magnetic stirrer would be quite handy when mixing the B part of PMK in any case, and those with an additional warming surface look really good...hmmmm....maybe...
The bar stool, (but without the bar I take it...)
I'm a "tray developing kind of guy". I've looked at Jobos, and even used Jobos as an assisitant many years ago, but for now, I have the luxury of having a large darkroom, with more than ample sink area, and I like the "quiet time" spent in the dark...
BTW, I just ordered a digital thermometer of the style you suggested Eugene.
Jim, what wattage bulb do you use in order to make your judgements "correct" as far as the tone and contrast of your prints are concerned? I still take a print out of the darkroom to check it by daylight. I think I do that so that my eyes become adjusted to the daylight and I seem to be able to make more accurate assesments in this manner. Sure, I wing it too with the lights in the darkroom, but if I'm matching an enlargement to an existing print, then I need the old daylight method.