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  1. #1
    verian's Avatar
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    New To Making Prints - Any Advice?

    I plan on setting up a darkroom in my garage so that I can develop and print. There are quite a few 'full' darkroom kits on ebay at the moment which aren't overly expensive and allow me to get started without a significant investment. Does anybody have any advice as to what to look out for, any general pitfalls or general tips when setting up a darkroom. All advice most welcome. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Jesper's Avatar
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    You should be able to make prints and get experience with almost any enlarger. Just make shure that it has all the parts that you need. The lamp may be broken and hard to find, there should be a negative carrier, a lens etc. Apart from the enlarger you need some trays and some tongs. There is really no limit to what kind of gadgets you can find for your darkroom but you can stat out small. If you buy "a complete darkroom" you will probably get all that you need except paper and chemicals (even if they are included you should get fresh supplies). I think the important part is to make shure that the enlarger has all the parts since spare parts can be expensive and hard to find.

  3. #3

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    Get LED red safelights, forget those tungsten dim lights. Osram makes the Parathom P 1W which is what I use. I have two and it's not a dark room anymore I did the fogging test and I am safe for at least 30 mins. Use only red safelights.
    Get citric acid as the stop bath, do not use vinegar or acetic acid. It's odorless and cheap.
    Get those odorless fixers (I use Rollei RXN, or Tetenal Odorless), that are also easier to wash away from prints
    Get an electronic timer, do not buy those old second-hand analog timers as they count very unreliably.
    If possible, get those inox tongs instead of the plastic ones.
    Stick with one paper and one developer for a while.

    As you are new to making prints: learn how to do test strips. It's the most important part of the process. Some do with f-stops increments, some do with a linear one. Whatever works for you it's OK. E.g. I do a linear strip but then work in f-stops on the print. To each their own. Start with wide strips and then learn where to put them on the print. Learn how to judge the whites and how contrast changes the blacks (and the whites). You will need to train your eyes, but it will pay off.

  4. #4
    Hatchetman's Avatar
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    My advice. Get the Ilford printing pamphlet: http://www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/200629187211322.pdf
    Read it. Make some notes. Get the Ilford chemicals. Follow the directions.
    Very easy.

  5. #5

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    LED Red Safelights are a +1 from me too... so don't spend on a safelight with filter. ( i recommend getting any light fixture and using the red led from superbrightleds.com, since they have the nm/wavelengths).

    As for ebay, like anything else, it's a hit and miss, but you have to think about shipping especially with equipment as old as darkroom equipment. I recommend you look around at local sales (craigslist, local ebay, etc.) as it will let you see the actual condition of things.

    I also recommend you look at other threads, which have sprung up concerning this, and see what some people have come up.

  6. #6
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    Plan, plan and plan. Think of your safety first. Plan on good ventilation and a safe electrical system. Think of your workflow. A poorly planned darkroom is dangerous and not productive. Learn from other people's mistakes.

    What I suggest is use a rental or a school darkroom first to see the layout.
    "Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."
    Aaron Chang

  7. #7

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    Keep every thing very simple and basic ~ Use one film and one dev (HP5 and ID11 or Tri-x and ID11) a box of 5x7 and three dishes ~ small enlargements are nice to carry with you ~ do not worry about the enlarger or lens too much ~ print boarder-less ~ keep every thing clean ~ use multigrade paper without filter! (try 5 secs at F5.6) and get your film processing right ~ Try this ~ rate your 400asa film at 320 and develop stock for 7 minutes at 20 degrees ~ and the magic? expose all of your first film at 1/125 ~ F8.0 ~ you have nothing to loose and....I have taught this for 20 years and every time my students have had a big smile on their face!!

  8. #8
    ROL
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  9. #9
    Mark Feldstein's Avatar
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    Welcome to the party !!! You've gotten some solid advice so far. Cleanliness is really important to processing. B&W processing is really straightforward for film or prints and really enjoyable too. But when you've got to combat dust, insulation and grit falling into trays or processing equipment or blowing in the wind it becomes a real battle.

    So, what I suggest is that you go down to some home center or lumberyard and score a roll of 6mil visquine plastic in either black or translucent. (Black might allow you to work in the daytime) It's pretty heavy duty and should handle large construction staples well. Try and confine a small area of your garage and enclose it, ceiling and sides too. Slit a doorway flap in it so you've basically built a tent and use an air purifier / cleaner inside along with a small fan to move air. Ventilation is important while you're working.

    You can even make a film drying area inside a small hanging plastic frame (like PVC pipe) with a plastic sheeting for sides, kind of like a narrow vertical tent. Oh, and when you wash film, don't forget hypo clearing agent AND photo flo to prevent streaks and curling of your negs.

    After you get it all cleaned up as best you can, vacuumed and dusted, keep your equipment clean and maybe stored with plastic sheet covers over work surfaces. You'll be much happier for it and your work will really benefit.

    I've processed and printed film in all sorts of terrible work environments from motel bathrooms to tents. Dust and dirt is the enemy. Minimizing it really helps the enjoyment and productive level.
    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Feldstein; 09-09-2013 at 12:59 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    _________________________________
    Without guys like John Coltrane, Count Basie and Duke Ellington, life....would be meaningless.

  10. #10
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    I'm jealous

    Quote Originally Posted by ROL View Post
    This is my dream darkroom
    "Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."
    Aaron Chang

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