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  1. #1
    lorirfrommontana's Avatar
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    What rules should I set for the Darkroom?

    I will be having kids (10 or 11 years old to 18 y.o.) learning development and printing in my darkroom. There are only a few of them right now but I will never know from year to year how many will want to try photography! I want to set up a list of rules that they must sign and abide by in the darkroom. A couple of rules I thought of are to always wear gloves and eye protection (I'll provide) when handeling chems, No horseplay, ...??? Anything that you can think of that would be good to have on a list of darkroom rules would be so helpful.

    I'll probebly charge them a small yearly fee for printing and develping ($5 or $10 or so plus the cost of film wich I will order so we are all useing the same stuff for beginning). I may do a per session ($1.00 ? ) wich might be more fair for those that may only do one roll of black and white or just a pin hole print. This will of course not cover the cost of supplies but I don't want anyone left out that would like to learn. I'm still coming up with ideas. We will only be developing and printing Black and White.

    The plumbing and electric should go in this next week (I hope) so, although behind schedule I will have a darkroom! I'm hoping that I'll be able to be in the next postcard exchange! There will only be room for 1 or 2 at a time in there as it's tiny! I need to do a bit of practice myself before I try and show anyone else what to do! Thanks for any ideas any of you may have.

    Lori

  2. #2
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    My kids are under 10, so washing the grubby little hands is rule #1, then no eating or drinking. I have an enlarging station set up for them with their own enlarger, light box, timer, grain focuser etc. Their attention span is like 15 seconds, so I don't have them down there long. I set some time aside and bring them down to each do a print. I use the Kodak projection print scale, so they do the exposure on RC paper and I quickly run it through the chemicals and dry it for them and they get to pick the slice they like. They set the timer and focus and make the print. They are read to go play something else by the time the prints are in the fixer so I let them go and give them the prints the next day. So far it has been a great experience.

    I have the enlarger on a standard height counter, but it is too high for them, even for 4x5 enlargements.

  3. #3
    mts
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    Teach them to wear an apron (plastic not cloth) when working wetside, and teach them to use the towel after dipping hands into wash water before handling anything on dry side. It's also important to teach them not to lean on the sink edge, rather to stand up straight a bit away from the edge. It is a very good idea to avoid chemical exposures, especially to developers as the allergenic responses can build slowly with time.

    Use a paper safe that has spring-loaded doors to prevent inadvertant exposures. Teach them to work in complete darkness for loading film onto reels and for tray processing color prints. Teach also proper use of a low-level safelight for B&W printing, e.g. not directly illuminating the developer tray.

    No eating and drinking is a hard and fast rule, with the sole exception being of course the glass of scotch that is kept on the shelf just above the sink. You might also want to think about letting them use their iPods in the darkroom after they become more proficient. I favor classical music played through speakers but it keeps my wife awake at night and so have switched to MP3 players and ear-buds. The use of players might be a 'reward' for demonstrating some level of proficiency at developing and printing. Having music in the darkroom makes the time pass much faster and many people find the work much more pleasant.

    For timing things I prefer the GraLab timers with large glow-in-the-dark numerals. Just let the thing run and watch the sweep and minute hands to time processing. Setting alarms and waiting to hear them is a real pain, especially when the iPod is running in your ears.
    By denying the facts, any paradox can be sustained--Galileo

  4. #4
    Poisson Du Jour's Avatar
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    Have a torch handy...
    Oh alright, joke, joke...
    Safety glasses, if they come in kid-size, are a splendid idea. Additionally, I'd be looking to keep paper in paper safes, safelight switches high up, chemicals in a locked cabinet, electrical cables on (and preferably fastened to) the benchtop, tools, trays etc where only you can access them (in terms of height/reach) and no more than yourself and one other in there at any time when working (so you can divide your attention — however tryingly — between the stop bath and yelling "stop that!" :-0). Ten to 11 year olds are a handful (my nieces are that age!), while 18 year olds are often mistaken by me to be much older!!

    A yearly fee? My goodness, very entrepreneurial! :-)
    “The photographer must determine how he wants the finished print to look before he exposes the negative.
    Before releasing the shutter, he must seek 'the flame of recognition,' a sense that the picture would reveal
    the greater mystery of things...more clearly than the eyes see."
    ~Edward Weston, 1922.

  5. #5
    MattKing's Avatar
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    If you plan on having more than one youngster working at any time, it would be a good idea to develop a routine where whenever the white lights are to be turned on, everyone will first check with everyone else there before flipping a switch. Something like a standard announcement: "Okay for lights on?" followed by a definite pause.

    Matt

  6. #6

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    My simple rule for all the college students I teach is: Clean Up After Yourself.

    Your students should not be done in the darkroom until the room is clean, and everything is put back in its proper place.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Photography/index.html

  7. #7
    ITD
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattKing View Post
    If you plan on having more than one youngster working at any time, it would be a good idea to develop a routine where whenever the white lights are to be turned on, everyone will first check with everyone else there before flipping a switch. Something like a standard announcement: "Okay for lights on?" followed by a definite pause.

    Matt
    Heh. I still do that when I'm on my own

  8. #8
    lorirfrommontana's Avatar
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    Cool! Thanks for all the ideas. The fee isn't to make any money for sure. Each of the Kids have to keep track of the expenses of each of their projects and do a financial journal (4H projects) so the fee is basicly just for them to have something to put in their book! I like the idea of only one at a time. Mabey I'll have a sign up sheet for darkroom times so I can give my undivided attention to whoever is in there with me. There is also going to be very little room. My darkroom is about 8 feet square (tiny!) and will have counters in an "L" shape along 2 of the walls. Not much room for any more that 2 of us in there at a time anyway!I want to make a pin hole camera with them so even those that are shooting digital will have at least one or 2 darkroom sessions for the pinhole images. I hope that they get as excited about this adventure as I am! I really think it will be nice for them to have at least one image that they made in the darkroom to show at fair. You have all given me some great ideas!
    Lori

  9. #9
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    Lori, Here is one rule presented to us by the Dean of Women at the teacher's college I attended in the early 1960s when we finally got a darkroom. I am not making this up. "At least three students in the darkroom at all times; two must be of the same gender."
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

  10. #10
    lorirfrommontana's Avatar
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