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Thread: Darkroom Setup

  1. #1
    dustym's Avatar
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    Darkroom Setup

    I have just embarked on the City & Guilds monochrome course in the UK
    and I have purchased a paterson darkroom kit to process 10 x 8 max size.
    I could do with some pointers on a kitchen darkroom or a bathroom darkroom as these are the only two spaces that are available to me that I can restrict the flow of child traffic, as the time at the college darkroom is fairly restricted.
    Also any ideas to prevent light leakage and perhaps a manufacturer or supply for a good changing bag when spooling my film as I do not have a cupboard under the stairs.

    Great to be onboard, I will mention this forum to my camera club as this was not easy to find.

    I wish this forum every success, its exciting to see such an active place for
    what is perceived to be a dying art form of film photography

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    Welcome to APUG. I did a City & Guilds course a few years back and really enjoyed it.

    Before I set up my darkroom in a spare bedroom I used to use the bathroom for printing. I placed a sheet of 12mm MDF over the bath. The enlarger went on top with the trays next to it. I could just about wash 10x8s in the hand basin. I blacked out the window using thick black plastic sheeting, which I think was designed for pond liner. B&Q or somewhere should have some, or you could try double thickness bin liners.

    I ran an extension cable from the landing under the bathroom door for the enlarger and safelight. The gap under the door was blocked by a towel. It wasn't ideal and there were some light leaks so I had to restrict printing to evenings. Perfect timing for you as the clocks will be going back soon!

    There's still a few places left that'll sell you a changing bag -- plus you can try eBay. The place I use is Firstcall Photographic at www.firstcall-photographic.co.uk, I think Jessops may even sell you one but you'll have to order it and knowing them it won't be cheap!

    Hope that helps and keep the questions coming

    Mike

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    Use a socket RCD (Residual Current Detector) for your extension (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt in the US) to reduce the chance of shocks.

    I blacked out my bathroom on a semi-permanent basis for a long time, but I did not have small children to accomodate.

    If there is space for a cupboard for trays and other kit in or close to the room it will bake things easier. Or a good butcher block cart you can wheel in and out.
    I feel, therefore I photograph.

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    Years ago, I used to use my bedroom. The blackout was achieved by having a roll of opaque material fastened to the top of the window using drawing pins, with the roll concealed by the pelmet. To use, the two ribbons holding up the roll were removed and the material dropped down over the window and was then pinned at the sides. The window fram was wooden, and proud of the walls. Any marks on the frames were concealed by the curtains, and pin holes in the material (where the old holes weren't reused) didn't matter as there was wood behind.

    I completed the light proofing of ny current darkroom using thick plastic sheeting from a Focus DIY store. The sheeting was intended to be used as a groundsheet in the garden to prevent weed germination by blocking out all light. It is quite opaque. So garden centres may also provide blackout material...

    Bathrooms can get quite steamy so I don't recommend leaving an enlarger there when not in use.

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    Kevin Caulfield's Avatar
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    I agree that the black plastic garden sheeting works very well. But be aware that you may need to at least double it up as it's not completely lightproof.

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    Andy K's Avatar
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    Hi Dusty and welcome to APUG. I am also in Essex, where are you taking your City and Guilds? I checked my local colleges and found no decent photographic courses.
    As far as darkroom goes, I too use my kitchen. As my flat is small, I find it easier to black out the front living room window and the kitchen window, which gives me a large DR!
    For equipment, look on Ebay, there are many people selling their darkroom kit at the moment. My first purchase was a changing bag, film tongue retreiver and some tongs (I was only after the bag, but the rest has since come in useful!). I now have a fairly comprehensive kit: Meopta Opemus Color 6 enlarger (with 35mm and 120 carriers and lenses), timer, developing tank (for 35mm and 120), paper developing trays, chemical storge containers, blackout...
    If you do a search on Ebay for 'Darkroom kit' you'll get results. You can also find most of what you want, new from Jessops etc. There are also a few online shops such as:

    http://www.secondhanddarkroom.co.uk/

    http://www.novadarkroom.com/

    http://www.aremdirect.co.uk/

    http://www.firstcall-photographic.co.uk/

    and the standby:

    http://www.jessops.com/shop.cfm

    Hope some of that helps!

    Andy.


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    Don't get too hung up reguarding the black-out. If you use a changing bag for handling film, then you really don't need it to be that dark for paper.

    A couple of sheets of hardboard cut to the right size makes and easy blackout, and if you throw a sheet of material over you can get it more than good enough.

    If it's really bad, just work in the evenings...

    Ian

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    For many years whilst living in various rented places I loaded my film in a wardrobe. Usually I managed to fit a small stool or box to sit on, with a chair as a table. Warm in summer, terrific in cool weather, it soons gets warm in a wardrobe.

    I find film loading, to be the only time I ever need total darkness.

    I have enlarged in a tent in the bush, using the moonlight as a safelight and enlarging by using power from a truck battery. It's absolutely amazing, the tolerance papers have for normal prints.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of photography!

    Mick.

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    dustym's Avatar
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    I live in the fast becoming London Borough of Brentwood in Essex, im studying the course at Thurrock college of art and design a bit of a drive bit this course and tutor was highly reccomended. Our tutor is a film user more than digital orientated, the college have another tutor which specializes in Digital....oops can as say that word here !

    Thankyou so much for the responses to my post some other forums my request would have stayed in a dusty corner with a thread string dating back to the middle ages.

    I do take some comfort in seeing a great deal of enthusiastic people maintaining the craft.
    I dropped out of photography 20 years ago when my equipment was stolen in a burglary, It has changed but nice to see no to much if you don't rely on a black box that does it all for you.



 

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