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Thread: Advice needed for starting Darkroom

  1. #1

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    Advice needed for starting Darkroom

    I'm trying to start developing 4 x 5 B&W sheet film. I already have the Jobo 3010 drum. I can use a little advice on what size bottles should I buy, measuring cups, etc..
    Any help or advice would be helpful

    thanks
    gary

  2. #2
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    Re: Advice needed for starting Darkroom

    OK, the Jobo drum is really good. The first thing you need to get is the Jobo foot pump to get the lid off. Do not try to pry it off with your fingernails, you will not be happy.

    If you can't get the Jobo foot pump, something can be easily made. Get any foot pump for blowing up beach balls and such. Get a big bottle stopper and a short hollow tube from, say, a hardware store. Drill the stopper so the tube squeezes into it. Trim the stopper so that it will squeeze a bit into the top of the Jobo drum. Connect the foot pump hose to the tube in the stopper, and then test it out.

    You can either roll the Jobo drum back and forth along a table, or you can make a little roller platform for it. Jobo sold one, but it is easy to build your own. Get small casters from the hardware store, and then mount them on a piece of plywood. Then you can put the Jobo drum on the casters and roll it.

    You'll need 1 quart bottles, and measuring beakers in various sizes. I have a range, from the smallest up to 1L. These are cheap and will last until they get broken. I like to get all of my chemicals ready in sequence, each in a 1qt pitcher. Then when I am finished with a chemical, I dump it back into the same pitcher.

  3. #3

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    Re: Advice needed for starting Darkroom

    Thanks Brian for the info. I also have the foot pump and unicolor base. I just need to figure out how to store the chemicals. I was wondering if it's advisable to use a 1 gallon milk container to store the developer in? We are talking about B & W developing 101 here.

  4. #4
    Bruce
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    Re: Advice needed for starting Darkroom

    For gallons, I use both milk jugs (with screw cap only), and windshield washer solvent jugs, which have a much better cap. You can also buy new jugs at grocery stores where they have a 'fill yourself' distilled water supply.
    For two quart, which I use for toner and hypo-clear, I use V8 bottles. I do find that the sepia developer/toner seems to cause these to crack, so I replace them often. No problem as I like V8 juice.
    I used to have some glass gallon jugs that my Dad used for years, but the caps finally rusted out.
    Bruce
    http://brucecsdunekphotography.zenfolio.com/

  5. #5
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    Re: Advice needed for starting Darkroom

    The 1qt containers, like Datatainer, are #2 plastic, and so are milk jugs. (I don't buy milk in jugs, and I like the measuring marks on the Datatainers.) If the container is clean, then it will work just fine for B&W chemicals.

    The real problem with 1 gallon containers is air space. What happens is that the chemicals will go flat (oxidize) when exposed to too much air for too long. A gallon milk jug will have a lot of air space in it. A pop container may be a better choice.

    Lately I have been using Ilford Ilfosol, which is a one-shot (meaning use once and throw away) developer. I measure out 1:14, which is 1 part developer and 14 parts water. So for 15oz of solution, it is 1oz developer and 14oz of water. This is where the measuring beakers come into play.

    There are plenty of different developers. Don't be afraid to experiment, and have fun!

  6. #6

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    Re: Advice needed for starting Darkroom

    I was always used to the dark amber glass jugs with a handle. This was in the olden days, and they are heavy and tend to chip and break. Laboratories still use them, as it is still the best way to keep extremely clean water for analysis.
    You can get the burping/accordian type bottle, similar to the collapsable plastic bottles, I recently saw some at Freestyle photo supply.
    Don't forget, if you have small children, try to keep the mixed chemicals in a safe place where they won't reach them.
    As for measuring beakers or graduated cylinders, you might look up Lab Safety Supply's website, just to give you an idea of the variety of styles availabe. They sell all kinds of supplies, as indicated for labs, which a b&w darkroom is....... NOT like that plastic cumputer lab that use photoslop

    Also, a good place to look for darkroom stuff is your local classified ads, or your local craigslist, as people sell off their old darkroom equipment due to lack of use.

    Good luck,

    Jose

  7. #7

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    Re: Advice needed for starting Darkroom

    Go to a compounding pharmacy and ask for the jugs robetussin syrup comes in. They are plastic nowadays but the storage qualities would have to be identical to the old ambers. Another good container is empty hydrogen peroxide bottles---same plastic as Data containers but much cheaper (all you've got to do is figure out how to use all the hydrogen peroxide that comes in 'em)
    I still use my ambers, but I'm a stubborn traditionalist.

    I have a Unicolor, not a Jobo, but the plastic cups I use for chemicals are
    the plastic 1oz/1 cup Betty Crockers from the kitchen section at Walmart. I put some colored tape on 'em and label "stop/fix/dev" to help identify what juice is in which cup.
    Thats because I'm cheap!
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  8. #8

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    Re: Advice needed for starting Darkroom

    The thin milk jugs leak oxygen, so the developers won't keep as well. They should work fine for stop bath and fixer. Glass is best, then PET, and then thick lined HDPE as far as I can tell. Milk jugs are unlined thin HDPE so there are better choices.

    For storage bottles I like the Jobo brand bottles in the 1 liter size for black and white. PET soda bottles work well (and maybe better), but the wide mouth on the Jobo bottles makes them my favorite. Plus they fit in my Jobo processor for warming if needed.

  9. #9

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    Re: Advice needed for starting Darkroom

    A cheap ion generator to knock down dust. We all have negs that would be gems if it weren't for the examples of string theory, usually in an unretouchable spot. As mentioned here once, baby diapers are lint free towels that are hard to beat. If you are going to be doing a lot of processing 1/2 gal glass milk jugs will work. Clear works when stored in the dark. if longer term are going to be used bite the bullet and get the collapsible containers. Air IS the death star.

  10. #10

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    Re: Advice needed for starting Darkroom

    For the developer: Accordion style bottles eventually wear at the seams. Regular plastic jugs used for milk, water etc. from grocery stores are not terribly reliable either, especially with the caps or lids, and though they're cheap and easily replaced, they "breath" and may let air in so if you're going that route, use 1 gallon soda pop bottles instead. You can squeeze them a bit to minimize oxidation of developer, and they have good caps too. I use good old fashioned amber glass jugs. Most of the stuff you find in a kitchen supply store will more than suffice for a darkroom.

    For stop, I just use plain white vinegar mixed with water, so whatever bottle the vinegar came in is fine.

    For fixer, anything will do really since it won't oxidize. A wide mouth would be a good idea, since you'll be pouring fix and and out of the bottle, and you don't want that stuff getting all over. So a cheap plastic funnel or two will be handy too.

    I also recommend a talking count-down timer. Cheap. So you can keep track of the passage of time in the dark.

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