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  1. #1
    zsas's Avatar
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    Feedback on building a darkroom

    Folks -
    I am considering building out a darkroom in my already finished basement. My wife and kids kindly allowed me to annex about 1/3 of the basement to my hobby. I shoot 35 and MF and print up to 16X20. I have a 7’ 3” photo sink and a 3' deeper Kreonite fiberglass darkroom sink that I call my “slop sink”, a 16X20 washer. My space already has a small built in sink but that might just be re-purposed since I will have the aforementioned sinks already. The bold areas in red need to be constructed (drywall, door). The areas in gray are where you can walk.

    Flow goes from the SW corner to the NE corner and back to the SW corner to dry the prints. Film drying area will be in the NE corner.

    Any thoughts on layout? Any pitfalls you see here?

    Had my first contractor over to look it over today still don’t have a quote, I figure I will be saving for a while before this actually breaks ground (or I guess I should say carpet). It has been fun measuring it all out and drawing it up and just dreaming of a darkroom.

    Best,
    Andy

    Last edited by zsas; 09-23-2011 at 12:07 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  2. #2
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Congratulations!

    I would suggest doing a drawing that is to scale. Hard to envision things as it is.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  3. #3
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Looks quite workable.

    Are you sure that the "table" for the enlargers and paper cutter is deep enough? 25 inches of depth isn't a lot if you are printing 16x20, and it is really shallow if you should ever try 20x24.
    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

  4. #4
    zsas's Avatar
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    2F/2F - Thanks, yeah jusk kinda 'hacked' it in Excel. Dont know CAD or anything like that. There a freeware or anything you recommend?
    Last edited by zsas; 09-23-2011 at 12:24 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  5. #5
    zsas's Avatar
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    Matt great point that west table prob does need to be a bit deeper, 3' could easily be done there is room. My max footprint of enlarger is 2' 1" but why not give it some more room if I ever want to do a larger print - 3' or so seems great!

  6. #6
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    I wouldn't make the tables any wider than they need to be. Looks slightly cramped to me. I wouldn't make it any tighter. Instead of using a wider table, you can make the one you are planning now a drop leaf table like we do at the lab where I work. You can install mounts in the table itself to mount the column, instead of using the baseboard. We have it set up so you can enlarge onto the normal table, remove that table and enlarge onto a lower shelf, or remove both and enlarge onto the floor.

    I have even seen single-column enlargers mounted directly to the table at a 45 degree angle to the corner. Not sure that is the best way to go here, but it is something to think about. It takes up more space laterally, but it can give you a bit of extra depth. In this case, it would give you about 35 inches from the corner, instead of 25 inches from the wall. Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to just install the mounting hardware in the corner. Use the factory baseboard most of the time, square to the wall, but move the column over for times when you might want to make larger prints. This is all only if you have a single-column enlarger, however.

    You can also mount the enlarger on a raised platform if you have the headroom.

    Personally, I think the dropping leaf design is the most simple, elegant, and effective way to go. You may or may not want to combine it with a slightly raised enlarger. (We use both methods at the lab.)

    I don't know any computer programs for drawing. Pencil and paper is how I usually do it.

    Be sure to have a proper active ventilation system. Also make sure that you have a filter built into that to help with dust.

    And make sure you have a safe (dark, cool, dry, but not too dry) spot to store your papers and films outside of the darkroom. The darkroom itself is not the best place to keep your papers, films, prints, and such.

    Also, I think you need much more room to maneuver in front of the print drying cabinet. 11 inches won't be enough.

    Over all, I would sacrifice a little bit of table surface for a bit more maneuverability. Table space is overrated in darkrooms. You can build shelves, cabinets and drawers to help with storage. Sink space and moving about space are not overrated, however, especially with larger prints.

    A proper viewing hood is lacking in most darkrooms, and one's importance cannot be overstated. Try to set up a space that will most closely simulate the light in which the prints will be viewed. Overhead tungsten spots seem to be common in museums and galleries.

    P.S. Where on Earth are you going to put the Kreonite?
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 09-23-2011 at 01:14 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  7. #7

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    Sketchup (free from google) is a great tool for doing 3D layouts and then being able to see them from various angles to have a better idea if a layout is going to work.

    What sort of door are you going to have? It's tricky to make a standard single door light-tight. A classic solution (if you have the square footage) is to simply make a hallway with staggered walls (like a very short maze) painted with matte black. You can turn the couple of corners but the light can't. Those cool Eseco Speedmaster revolving doors are available for darn near free if you can catch someone needing to get rid of one locally.

    Duncan

  8. #8

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    Just a very simple but useful suggestion not of the layout: cut three pieces of 3/4in. plywood that can be removable covers for your long sink and paint with marine polyester. When the sink is not being used as a sink it will give you an additional working counter-top. An exhaust system is also advisable.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/

  9. #9

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    hi andy
    it looks nice ... !
    what is overhead,
    do you have a drop ceiling or bare beams ?

    if you don't have a drop ceiling, i would consider something like that
    because dust and debris will be a PITA otherwise.

    will you be building your film and print drying racks or buying things to repurpose,
    and do you have storage area for your "stuff"?

    i built a drying rack with screens out of 1/4" plywood angle irons and strapping
    ... i used lath and a staple gun ( and screen ) to make my screens. the top is wood + countertop
    and adds to flat space ...

    if you don't have anything yet, you might look into a storage closet
    ( like a home depot plastic shelved pantry )
    they cost around 100$ put together in 15mins and you can exclude the shelves, drill holes and string wire across the top.
    they make a great a drying cabinet for film ( tall enough for rolls ). it is closed and keeps dust &c out ...

    don't forget to save an area for paper, reels, tanks, trays &c too ...

    have fun !
    john
    if my apug gallery looks empty you might check these places

    website
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  10. #10

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    Use Sketchup and draw to scale. You can't get a sense of proportion and usability unless it is to scale. You can layout the benches and the enlarger shape and shelving and cabinets and view it all from any angle, which will quickly tell you how usable it will be. You can check door swings and reach and lots of aspects. Time invested designing saves a lot of time and headaches later.

    Sketchup is worth the investment of time learning and once you get it, it is very fast for what it does. I designed aspects of my darkroom with it and designed a printer stand and a sturdy workbench that I built. My next project is to design a 6x9 view camera!

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