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Thread: Darkroom setup: your thoughts

  1. #1

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    Darkroom setup: your thoughts

    I have a space in the basement around 11x5 allocated for a dark room. The sink will be about belly button height due to the drain.

    1) Would you finish the interior or exterior of the studs?
    2) I was going to use black sheet plastic for the ceiling in a small section about 1 foot wide due to shoddy construction of the exterior steps when my place was built 30 years ago. There's no flashing behind them and you used to be able to see the dirt. I have since foamed the truss holes but I think dampness may still sneak through.
    3) Venting will be handled by an old heater inducer motor that is in place when I used to air brush in this space. I have since taken down the two walls.
    4) The door I was going to make a frame and use blackout shade from the fabric store, or instead of the frame maybe just velcro all the way around.
    5) And the biggest question, finding a good 4x5 enlarger. At the moment I have a Durst 601m that a guy at work gave me. Its like brand new and has both 35mm and 120 6x6 carriers. I thought about ordering the intrepid conversion but I would rather have something I don't need to disassemble to go take pictures.

  2. #2

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    Re: Darkroom setup: your thoughts

    This space is a lot like what I had available when the 4 girls were still at home only mine was in the garage. In it I had a 4x5 enlarger, and a 5x7 enlarger. The 11x14 trays were in a Tray Stacker and the was was done in a fill and dump which I built from plans in a bagazine.
    Covering the ceiling is a good idea. I would finish the outside of the studs, at least I did. Since a car was often in the garage limiting space fora door to swing, I hung a sliding door on the outside after getting disgusted with a blackout curtain. I had no need for extra ventilation because the open studs allowed plenty of air-flow and there was a vent near the floor.
    Good luck and enjoy it.

  3. #3

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    Re: Darkroom setup: your thoughts

    I presume the space is on the main floor (vs basement). I'd be inclined to ditch the door idea and go with black out curtains. Will depend on whether there's lots of traffic in the hall outside the darkroom. If there are no other occupants in the house, def go with curtains. Jim's idea of sliding door (if you have room, pocket doors would be ideal) is a great idea as well.

    re: painting the studs, I don't really see much need tbh, but if I were to paint them, I'd probably go with white or gray.

    Have you plotted out a floor plan on paper to see where things will go ? Will you just be setting up one enlarger ? I always remind people to think about their workflow, esp the wet side. ie-I like going l-r so my holding tray is on the far right. Lefties may prefer it the other way around.
    notch codes ? I only use one film...

  4. #4

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    Re: Darkroom setup: your thoughts

    If I were you I'd sheet rock the entire space and paint it low gloss or satin white. Bouncing a safelight off a white ceiling is really, really nice, plus, the whole space will be friendlier when the white light is on for print viewing, etc.

    If your sink ends up being uncomfortably high, you might want to consider building higher walkway in front of the sink. Two-by-fours with a plywood overlay and some floor paint (white...) and you've got a four or five inch higher floor.

    My darkroom has a regular pre-hung door installed. I added a threshold, a sweep and a bit of weatherstripping and it's 100% light-tight. I think that would be a whole lot less of a dust magnet than a piece of hanging fabric that gets rustled around every time you enter/exit.

    As far as enlargers go. If I were shopping again, I'd look for a good used LPL 4500. De Vere is really nice too. They're both a bit on the pricey side though. If you can find a good used Omega D with a Chromega head and all the related power supply, voltage regulator, etc. then that would be great too. They come up regularly for not much (even free at times). I really like the Chromega heads a lot more than the Beseler offerings. Personally, I have two Beseler enlargers, an old 45M and a newer 45MX, both of which I've modified to take Chromega heads. The one I use most has an Omega E (5x7) head mounted. The Beseler enlarger chassis with the motor drive is nice; if you can find one with a decent working head, either cold light or condenser, and don't mind using filters, That would be good too.

    Have fun finishing your space.

    Doremus

  5. #5

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    Re: Darkroom setup: your thoughts

    Have you tried searching this site? Most of these questions have been asked and answered probably hundreds of times if not more. Doremus' advice is right on!

  6. #6

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    Re: Darkroom setup: your thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred L View Post
    I presume the space is on the main floor (vs basement). I'd be inclined to ditch the door idea and go with black out curtains. Will depend on whether there's lots of traffic in the hall outside the darkroom. If there are no other occupants in the house, def go with curtains. Jim's idea of sliding door (if you have room, pocket doors would be ideal) is a great idea as well.

    re: painting the studs, I don't really see much need tbh, but if I were to paint them, I'd probably go with white or gray.

    Have you plotted out a floor plan on paper to see where things will go ? Will you just be setting up one enlarger ? I always remind people to think about their workflow, esp the wet side. ie-I like going l-r so my holding tray is on the far right. Lefties may prefer it the other way around.
    No, the space is definitely in the basement.

  7. #7

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    Re: Darkroom setup: your thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Luis-F-S View Post
    Have you tried searching this site? Most of these questions have been asked and answered probably hundreds of times if not more. Doremus' advice is right on!

    I usually do a search then add large format after so it pulls up threads from the site I want. I've gotten some info but somethings just don't come up.

  8. #8

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    Re: Darkroom setup: your thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by jtomasella View Post
    I usually do a search then add large format after so it pulls up threads from the site I want. I've gotten some info but somethings just don't come up.
    Ok, so what else do you still need to know besides the advise that Doremus gave you?

  9. #9
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Darkroom setup: your thoughts

    Doremus gives fine advice. Add up all of the electrical devices you might ever use in the darkroom, double or triple that number, and put in that many outlets. I've had up to maybe 20 outlets in use in my last darkroom. Certainly outlets near the sink and probably throughout the darkroom should be protected with a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. A separate power line from the power panel is advisable when air conditioners or heaters are used. Plan and install all the plumbing you anticipate needing. It's much easier to do it right than redo it later. My next-to-last darkroom had no running water, but plenty of walking water. I walked in with jugs of water, and walked out with buckets of waste water. We don't need to use a lot of water for fairly small runs of negatives and prints. Thermostatic control of heaters and air conditioners kept chemicals, me, and the water at the right temperature. A slab of plywood or MDF can be framed in for a door perhaps as easily as buying a pre-hung door. Photographer's need for ventilation varies widely. Plan for at least some ventilation.
    Last edited by Jim Jones; 23-Dec-2019 at 09:17. Reason: misspelling.

  10. #10

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    Re: Darkroom setup: your thoughts

    to add to the electrical outlet talk, I'd add a few to the ceiling for safelights. and definitely go gfci in the darkroom. you don't need to make every outlet gfci, as those downstream from a gfci outlet will be protected afaik.
    notch codes ? I only use one film...

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