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  1. #1
    Necator's Avatar
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    How dark should a darkroom be?

    This might be a silly question, but since I just got a Leitz Focomat V35 for free, I would like to get started on my plans for a darkroom in the basement of our house. If I continue to use a changing bag for loading film into the development tank, and only use the darkroom for making prints, does it have to be completely light sealed? I seem to remember that the father of one of my high school friends used the boiler room in their house, without light sealing besides some dark curtains. He only used it after sunset of course.

    The room I have in mind is in the basement, with some small windows, where I think about getting some dark curtains, but I will need to keep the window open for ventilation. I would also like to keep the door open, to get air flowing, so there will be some leaks of light. Could that work?
    Henrik Lauridsen

  2. #2

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    I think it should be as light-tight as possible. If not, you'll always wonder if some print problem was caused by stray light. You may be able to construct some sort of light-tight ventilation system in the window.

  3. #3
    RalphLambrecht's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Necator View Post
    This might be a silly question, but since I just got a Leitz Focomat V35 for free, I would like to get started on my plans for a darkroom in the basement of our house. If I continue to use a changing bag for loading film into the development tank, and only use the darkroom for making prints, does it have to be completely light sealed? I seem to remember that the father of one of my high school friends used the boiler room in their house, without light sealing besides some dark curtains. He only used it after sunset of course.

    The room I have in mind is in the basement, with some small windows, where I think about getting some dark curtains, but I will need to keep the window open for ventilation. I would also like to keep the door open, to get air flowing, so there will be some leaks of light. Could that work?
    No. To maintain total darkness AND ventilation, you are advised to build light traps. You'll find plan on the web or in good books. Light does not go around corners, air does.
    Regards

    Ralph W. Lambrecht
    www.darkroomagic.comrorrlambrec@ymail.com[/URL]
    www.waybeyondmonochrome.com

  4. #4
    Rick A's Avatar
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    You can install an inexpensive bathroom exhaust and duct it outside, also install a wall vent(or two) that is light tight(as per Ralph L.). I would put one intake vent near the ceiling, and another near the floor, and a power exhaust in the ceiling. Make sure to place the 'in' at the opposite end of the room from the 'out'. A weather seal around the door will help to shut out light. When you are finished, sit in the darkened room for at least five minutes before checking for light leaks.

    Rick

  5. #5

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    Careful with the bathroom vents. These are not light tight.
    Frank Schifano

  6. #6
    RalphLambrecht's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fschifano View Post
    Careful with the bathroom vents. These are not light tight.
    No it is:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Vent.jpg  
    Regards

    Ralph W. Lambrecht
    www.darkroomagic.comrorrlambrec@ymail.com[/URL]
    www.waybeyondmonochrome.com

  7. #7

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    Ralph, as always, makes very valid and interesting points. Light does not bend about a corner....the relevance of the statement is that if you are working in a corner of your darkroom that is away from a small light leak around your door or window then it is entirely likely that the small amount of light coming several feet away from your dark area will not affect your materials. For example, close the door and stand where you are loading your film film into your developing tank, or placing your paper onto the easel of your enlarger. Take a sheet of white paper, and see if the light strikes the paper....you might be able to stand in front of the easel, or the developing tank in order to shield the objects that you want to "protect". As noted, curtains or caulking, or weather stripping will help....however, in some instances, the last bit of light that might "infiltrate" the darkroom might not affect your materials at all. No one would argue with the advisability of making the darkroom as light tight and dark as possible. However, there are instances wherein small amounts of infiltrating light will have little, if any, practical affect. To repeat, I am not advocating a cavalier approach in which light is allowed in to flow into one's workspace. However, I do believe that it is entirely possible to work in a darkroom that is not entirely Stygian.

  8. #8
    RalphLambrecht's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mahler_one View Post
    Ralph, as always, makes very valid and interesting points. Light does not bend about a corner....the relevance of the statement is that if you are working in a corner of your darkroom that is away from a small light leak around your door or window then it is entirely likely that the small amount of light coming several feet away from your dark area will not affect your materials. For example, close the door and stand where you are loading your film film into your developing tank, or placing your paper onto the easel of your enlarger. Take a sheet of white paper, and see if the light strikes the paper....you might be able to stand in front of the easel, or the developing tank in order to shield the objects that you want to "protect". As noted, curtains or caulking, or weather stripping will help....however, in some instances, the last bit of light that might "infiltrate" the darkroom might not affect your materials at all. No one would argue with the advisability of making the darkroom as light tight and dark as possible. However, there are instances wherein small amounts of infiltrating light will have little, if any, practical affect. To repeat, I am not advocating a cavalier approach in which light is allowed in to flow into one's workspace. However, I do believe that it is entirely possible to work in a darkroom that is not entirely Stygian.

    I was in Howard Bond's darkroom once, and he has no darkroom door at all. The whole entrance is designed as a light trap. You walk around a double corner in which the walls are painted flat black. It is open and yet light tight, which is great for a teaching darkroom where people can go in and out without disturbing the session. It takes some floor space but is very convenient and offers a lot of ventilation.
    Regards

    Ralph W. Lambrecht
    www.darkroomagic.comrorrlambrec@ymail.com[/URL]
    www.waybeyondmonochrome.com

  9. #9

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    Yes...the "gang darkroom" at The Southeastern Center for Photographic Studies at Daytona Beach State College is constructed exactly the same way Ralph....no doors, double corner, etc......

    Ed

  10. #10

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    Dear Henrick,

    Get it close and give it a try. If there are problems, work on them one by one. You may be able to solve the problem of the open door by simply turning out the light in that room (or replacing it with a safelight while you work). In any case, don't let the problem slow you down too much. IMO, it is much more fun to get started than wait for perfect conditions.

    Neal Wydra

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