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  1. #1

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    Help w/ darkroom decision & safelight

    Alright, I am in the process of creating my first own darkroom. I need help figuring out the best place to set it up and finding the right safelight for my situation. Here are the details. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Recently purchased a honking (large) Omega DII. Have two key decisions I have to make: where to set up the darkroom and what type of safelight to get.

    Issue #1: The Bathroom or the Big Pantry

    I live in a 1,050 sq. ft. apartment with my wife. I have two main rooms were I could work from. Below are the specs, pros, and cons of each room.

    Bathroom Specs
    - 6ft x 12ft.
    - bathtub/shower
    - sink
    - toilet (obviously)
    - 1 window facing the west

    Bathroom Pros
    - running water w/ tub and running water with sink

    Bathroom Cons
    - I could not leave my darkroom crap permanetly set up in the bathroom as it is our only bathroom, would take up a great deal of space, and don't want guest having to "work" around all that equipment.
    - With the toilet, sink, and bathtub taking up a bunch of the room, it would be pretty tight working with. Would have a difficult time finding a place for my "dry" space.


    Pantry Specs
    - walk-in pantry w/ heavy door
    - 10ft by 10ft
    - window facing the east
    - no running water

    Pros
    - would have more space to work with as the tub/sink/toilet is not taking up a bunch of space
    - could permanetly leave things set up and permanetly black out the window as we don't "show" guests to the pantry and have don't have too much food in the pantry

    Negatives
    - no running water (nearest faucet would be the kitchen sink -- 10 feet away from the pantry's entrance door)
    - chemicals in with out non-perishable foods (canned stuff, baking ingredients in tupperware, bags of chips, ziplocs, etc.)

    Both the bathroom and pantry have crappy ventilation, but what can you do?

    I would definitely love to have it set up in the pantry, cause I could keep it set up, and won't have to always set-up all the equipment every time I want to print. I hope to spend some quality time in the darkroom at least a couple times a month. My only concern with setting up the pantry is the water. I don't have a "wash basin" specifically designed for my prints. I have thought about getting one, and running a hose 15 ft to my kitchen sink -- but then I would have to deal with getting the hose in the pantry without any light seeping in, and find the right connection, tubing etc. How crucial is it that I have running water? Could I get by effectively without it? Any practical thoughts would greatly help.

    Issue #2 -- Finding a Safelight

    First off, I am recently out of college, and quite poor. Hoping to find an effective safelight for $25 or less. Secondly, I will be doing solely B&W work. I like to get things off of Ebay, but a little nervous when it comes to used equipment especially for something as important as a good safelight. Any thoughts on the best safelight in this $ ballpark would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Huram

  2. #2
    glbeas's Avatar
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    Your pantry will do quite well for a small "dry" darkroom, I've worked out of them for years before building the one I have now. I found a good print tub in an old vegetable crisper out of a discarded refrigerator, it was a big rectangle about 8 inches deep and about 10x12 inches area. Any easy to handle contaner will do as long as you can immerse the print completely in it with room for more.

    Just be sure to take frequent breaks for fresh air as such a small room will get stuffy pretty quick. Be best to do your work at night with the kitchen lights out so you can leave the door open and have more room to move around.
    Gary Beasley

  3. #3
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    You have lots of choices for the safelight. You could simply buy an OC filter bulb and screw it into the fixture. Bulbs are about ten bucks at most stores. A step up would be an old safelight off of eBay. Worst case you would have to replace the filters which is a few dollars. You can find to Kodak Bullet shaped safelights all over eBay.

    I would go with the pantry over the bathroom. Yes, running water is nice; however, it never fails that the wife wants to soak in the bathtub at the same time that you want to print. Put a table in the pantry to set your trays on. I used to leave the prints in a water bath until I was done printing. Then, i would set the print washer up in the bathroom to wash everything in one shot. For developing film just use an old bucket to dump the spent chemicals into.
    Facts are facts; however, perception is reality.

  4. #4
    Aggie's Avatar
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    As for ventilation, You can buy on ebay asome nice exhaust fans. get some plywood the demensions of your window and mount the fan in it. Then when you open the window you can stick the fan on the board into it. Use ehavy black out plastic to cover the portion of the window that is exposed. The plastic is cheap on the B&H web site. As for safe lights I have a couple that I am not using. PM me with your address and I will send them to you. As for the food storage problem, get those big plastic tub containers. It keeps it totally protected. The washer you can set up out in the kitchen. My darkroom set up is in a spare bedroom with the bathroom across the hall. I have a larger tray set up with just plain water to hold the prints until I can run to the bathroom and put them in the washer. This also gives me a chance to open the door for fresh air to circulate in. It sounds like space will be really tight. I would get the stacking type of holders to put your print trays into. Saves a lot of space. My darkroom is not that much larger. 12x12
    Non Digital Diva

  5. #5
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    Huram,
    Do not let the lack of a local source of water keep you from setting up in the most ideal space!
    I have a wonderful, permanent darkroom that has no water, and I have to tell you that it is not really a pain in the posterior! here's what I do... When I am ready to use the darkroom, I fill two containers with 68degF water... the first is a gallon container and it is used for mixing my chemicals. I do keep stop bath pre-mixed.
    The second is a 5-gallon container that I use for a primary rinse. I keep a somewhat larger tray for that rinse. When I am done enlarging, I empty the primary rinse water, developer and stop bath into a large bucket and dump them. The used fixer goes into one of two dark containers - used, used fixer or first time used fixer. I do all my final rinsing in a large container in the tub. If you do a search in the forum on final rinse or some such phrase, you will find a plethora of info there about rinse methods!

    I use a safelight that screws into a regular light socket. It was relatively cheap and works fine. I am pretty sure you can get sheets of plastic in OC Amber and put it over the lens of a flashlight. I know people who use red sheets for this, too. This stuff is thin... like plastic sheeting.

    As far as keeping things separated from food, make sure your food is in sealed plastic containers, or make sure your chemicals are in sealed in plastic containers! I would think the bigger problem would be chemical spills (all that sloshing about in trays). But what I would do is invest in a couple plastic tablecloths...the kinds with the flannel backs. Put the trays on them and let them cover the fronts of the other shelves. That way, if developer decides to mutiny over the edge, the worse thing you will have to clean is the floor!
    I would make sure that whatever you put your enlarger on is very stable and cannot be 'jiggled' around. That is the key! It must be stable!

    So, I hope this helps! Yeah, maybe one day I'll have water and giant sinks and two enlargers and an unlimited supply of paper and...... oops! Sorry! Off track!
    Jeanette
    Jeanette
    .................................................. ................
    Isaiah 25:1

  6. #6

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    My Safelight is an old camping lantern that runs off standard alkaline batteries and has a red balloon as a errrm cover, sheath, rubber over the top <blush> works perfectly with all papers I've tried
    Last edited by TPPhotog; 09-02-2004 at 05:22 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: typo's

  7. #7

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    10X10? Oh the humanity! My darkroom is 24"X6'. You read that right, 24 inches. I have a sink thats outside, but next to the closet. Getting water is no big deal. I enlarge and dev inside the closet. After wash I can move the prints to the bathroom to inspect, wash more if desired, and dry. I purchased a used safelight from a local camera shop for $10. It's one of those old 4X5 Kodak lights with removable lenses. I even got extra lenses in the deal. For a larger room you might need more though. Not much I can do about ventilation unless I put a hole in the wall. I'm usually only in there in 2 to 3 hour shifts. With frequent trips to the bathroom to evaluate and hang prints. All the negatives are outweighed by one big positive; I don't have to tear down my darkroom every time. I go in, pour my chems, and have fun. The biggest hassle is taking the trays into the bathroom to pour chems back into bottles. I'm not too hot on the idea keeping food and chems in the same area. I'm sure you could find another place to store them. Heck, priorities man! Store the food somewhere else!
    The Rat

  8. #8
    papagene's Avatar
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    Heck, I was gonna say that a 10x10 darkroom was a luxury (mine is 8x8), but The Rat is the sure winner!! And I do have running water.
    Huram, use the pantry and have some fun.
    gene
    gene LaFord


    Long live Ed "Big Daddy" Roth!!
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  9. #9
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    For window covering, not all black plastic material is created equal. The best method I came up with was aluminum foil covered with black fabric. It works really well; however, my neighbors think I have a hydroponic marijuana growing operation.
    Facts are facts; however, perception is reality.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrPhil
    I have a hydroponic marijuana growing operation.
    I've often wondered if my neighbors had this perception with my bathroom window covered with foil or black plastic.

    The other day I was mixing up some Pyrocat HD from powdered chemicals. I was doing this on my kitchen counter, in front of the open window, at night. I'm sure everyone who went by could see in and wondered just what I was doing with that scale and all that white powder. We do have a big meth producing problem here in rural Iowa. I was half expecting a visit from the sheriff.

    I have no place for a permanent darkroom at this house and have to set up in the only bathroom every time I want to dev film or print. It's a major pita. We are moving, however, in a couple of weeks and this will change. I would go with the pantry if I were you. You'll find that the lack of running water is much less an inconvenience than having to set up & tear down your darkroom every time you want to use it.

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