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Thread: Darkroom set up question.

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Boston area
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    Darkroom set up question.

    I want to set up a darkroom but it must be one that is not permanent and only to be used occasionally. My problem is my basement has several small windows and a walk out door with a half window and I don't want to keep the windows and doors covered and don't want to spend a lot of time covering them when I want to print. What I am hoping I can do is buy a safe light type mylar filter material that I could tape over everything when I want to print. Is there such a material that would work for printing without fogging and where could I get it?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    Seattle area, WA
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    916

    Re: Darkroom set up question.

    I have the same problem in my basement darkroom. Covering windows with darkout material every time is a chore, and is hard to get consistent results in terms of lightproofing. One thing you can do is to make a frame to cover each window and cover the frame in dark material and foam on the sides. Secure your frame to the window using some kind of clip (storm window clips etc). Note you can make the frames go on the inside or outside of your window, whatever is easier. I.e. I have a half basement / half crawl, so I cover the crawlspace vents from the outside of the house.

  3. #3
    Joe O'Hara's Avatar
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    Jul 2007
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    612

    Re: Darkroom set up question.

    I had this problem with my darkroom which is in the finished-off back half of my garage, with a door to the back yard on one wall. The door is rarely used, but just the same leaked light like crazy all around the edges. My solution was as follows:

    You can have curtains made out of "duvetyne cloth". This is very effective at blocking the light that leaks in around around a door to the outside of the house. Cut it to size--making provision for a generous overlap at the edges, pin it up with a doubled-over part for the curtain rod, and take it to your local cleaners and have them sew it for you. Some flexible magnetic tape fastened in strategic areas around the perimeter and a couple dozen small disc magnets and you're good to go. Get the "commando cloth" which is the heaviest grade and effective even against direct sunlight. I was able to find a supplier who would sell me just 3 or 4 yards or so, which was more than I needed.

    To open that door, I lift the edges of the cloth, letting the magnets drop into my hand, and then unhook the curtain rod and put the whole thing aside. Takes about 30 seconds and it's perfectly light tight when in place.
    Where are we going?
    And why are we in this handbasket?


    www.josephoharaphotography.com

  4. #4
    Pieter's Avatar
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    Jul 2018
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    Re: Darkroom set up question.

    You can also use home theater black-out curtains. I bought some from Target for my garage darkroom. Just make sure they are 100% opaque, some let a tiny bit of light through. Another option is opaque vinyl sheeting (like enlarging paper envelopes) that can be velcroed or taped over the windows.

  5. #5

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    Jul 2006
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    Collinsville, CT USA
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    Re: Darkroom set up question.

    I cut rectangles of rigid insulating foam which easily fit inside the windows and could be easily removed. They did a great job of keeping out 99+% of the light. That was maybe 3 years ago and have yet to remove them.

  6. #6

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    Boston area
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    Re: Darkroom set up question.

    A couple of the windows are difficult to get at and would probably leave the mylar up on those. Also the mylar would would allow light from the other windows come through so it's not totally black. I just thought a product like this would eliminate the need for total darkness. I know there are ways to eliminate the light but curious as to why there isn't this type of product out there.

  7. #7

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    Oct 2015
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    903

    Re: Darkroom set up question.

    Or, you could do as Brett Weston did and print at night. I've read that he used to leave the window of his darkroom open while printing!

  8. #8
    Matt Alexander
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    Nov 2017
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    Wisconsin
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    Re: Darkroom set up question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg View Post
    I cut rectangles of rigid insulating foam which easily fit inside the windows and could be easily removed. They did a great job of keeping out 99+% of the light. That was maybe 3 years ago and have yet to remove them.
    +1
    Even better if you get the insulation board with a foil backing. I did the same and have never had a problem with light leaks. Cut it with a knife and wedge it in tight, it will deform enough to seal quite well and easy to remove without any damage to the windows if /when you need to.
    Even monkeys fall from trees -- Japanese proverb

  9. #9
    C. D. Keth's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
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    Salt Lake City, UT
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    Re: Darkroom set up question.

    You could just curtain off an area with black plastic dropcloth material. That will black out a small area easily and cheaply and act as a bit of dust buffer, too.
    -Chris

  10. #10
    Pieter's Avatar
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    Jul 2018
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    Re: Darkroom set up question.

    Some have used a product similar to Rubylith by Ulano (https://www.ulano.com/rubylith), available at art supply stores. Blick sells it in 20x24" sheets, but rolls are available if you need to cover a large area (not cheap!) How much direct sun exposure do the windows get? I would suggest doubling to ensure to be on the safe side, but you could try a single layer first.

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