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  1. #1

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    Darkroom design mistakes - who has made them?

    All,

    We've done some major renovations to our house and I'm going to be re-building my darkroom in a month or so. Originally, it was a dungeon in the basement, and as soon as it was dark enough to work in I stopped improving it. I produced some pretty good work in there but this time I'd like to do it as "right" as I can and with the money available so It's a real pleasure to be in there.

    I have the same 11' x 10' dungeon I had before only now there's a heating duct going through the doorway . I'm going to put in a sink but will have to do with a slop bucket. Running water is much more doable but will have to wait for the money to pay for it. I'm not looking for a mansion; just a nice place to stay in until about 3AM, like I had before.

    I know every darkroom is different. What I think I'm after is those "If I did this again I would..." and those "I thought this would work but..." and the "This was a hack but it turned out better than what I thought I wanted" kinds of revelations that (I think will) show up in a project like this.

  2. #2
    jp80874's Avatar
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    You might find this thread good reading. "Darkroom Portraits
    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum43/1...portraits.html

    1145 posts as of now.

    John Powers
    "If you want to be famous, you must do something more badly than anybody in the entire world." Miroslav Tichý

  3. #3
    RalphLambrecht's Avatar
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    Follow John's suggestion and make sure to use proper safelights. Here is something to read before you get to the actual darkroom renovation:

    http://www.waybeyondmonochrome.com/W...ghtTestEd2.pdf
    Regards

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

  4. #4

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    What I would do differently in my darkroom

    1) I wanted a drop table for enlarging so I built one and have never used it. Instead I use it for additional shelving.

    2) I would mount surface mount the electrical receptables and switches instead of behind the drywall - it allows for making adjustments based on the evolution of the equipment you bring in.

    Todd

  5. #5
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Lessons I've learned from darkrooms I've worked in or put together:

    When you decide where you are going to put safelights and regular lights, make sure that you don't end up with a situation where your own shadow falls on the working area.

    When you design your area for trays, be sure to include space to empty the trays easily.

    Remember to include a dry area for a paper cutter and one or more paper safes/drawers.

    Lots of electrical outlets, spread over more than one circuit.

    Separate the safelight and regular light switches.

    A floor that will withstand spills and is easy to clean.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  6. #6
    Mark Fisher's Avatar
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    A white light switch somewhere near your fix tray. Locate a dry area outside the darkroom for mounting etc.......and don't forget the circuit for the drymount press. Mount everything you can to the wall to get it out of the way. And lastly, get lots of paper safes so you can always work out of a paper safe instead of a box of paper!

  7. #7
    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    Do it the easy way - move a lot. I am quite settled (in the current house for the last 8 years) and have made only twaeks to how I originally laid things out. But this is the 9th darkroom facility that I have built/jury rigged. All of the past less permanent darkrooms have tought me the elements I wanted in this most refined one.
    my real name, imagine that.

  8. #8
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    I found that I really don't need that much to work well. The only thing I regret to date is that I haven't installed a proper electrical circuit dedicated to the darkroom.

    I need a really sturdy enlarger stand, so I built that. Good safe-lighting. Light proofing. A sink. Room for all trays. And lots of storage space.

    I think the rest is 'nice to have'. I really ought to post a portrait of my darkroom into the thread mentioned above. It's basically just a section of an open plan basement with the windows covered up, and a hinge on the door to keep the cats out.

    Good luck with your project!
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  9. #9

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    I am on at least my third darkroom configuration in the same space. I don't really consider my earlier designs to be mistakes. The earlier designs worked great for the work I was doing at the time. I made changes as my photography evolved.

    I recommend that you make your design flexible. I don't use built in cabinets. I have movable tables, shelves and storage units. Even my sinks could be moved with some minor re-plumbing. I recently bought a used 8x10 enlarger that is much larger than my old enlarger. To accommodate it, I only had to lower a shelf on the work unit and remove the top shelf on the unit.

    You might be able to build the perfect darkroom for your work today, but what will you be doing five or ten years from now?

    I remember reading about a guy who build a table for himself. He ended up making three. He said, "I built the first table for an enemy, the second for a friend and the third for my self."

  10. #10

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    Design it to suit your needs. I have just two generic suggestions to those you have already received. One: an exhaust fan and two: if you are building a sink "paint" it with marine polyester (coloring can be added in the mix). I used it on mine and it cleans up easily and has been very durable for the past 35 years.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/

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