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Setting up a darkroom - To enjoy the full benefits of black & white photography you need to venture into a darkroom and process your own films. Here we look at the options for setting up a darkroom.
To enjoy the full benefits of black & white photography you need to venture into a darkroom and process your own films. Here we look at the options for setting up a darkroom.
Words Peter Bargh
When designing a darkroom bench allow for an area that will take equipment to process big prints, even if this is not required at present it is better to be equipped for any future developments.
1 The safelight must be placed at a distance from the print handling area to avoid fogging there are different coloured safelights to match the various sensitive papers available.
2 Tray allow a small amount of space in between trays so the can be rocked independently when print agitation is required. Buy a set that will be just bigger than the paper size you are using, If you intend printing on several size of paper it's worth getting several sets of trays to avoid using unnecessary amounts of developer etc.
3 You can buy a custom darkroom sink that will probably be made of fibre glass or stainless steel. When fitting this ensure the strut supports are able to take the weight of the sink when full of water. It's also worth plumbing in a water filter to ensure you have particle free water.
4Drying rack Place the drying rack near the washing area so that you can quickly load prints without water dripping everywhere.
5 Ensure plug points are away from any water supply.
6 A contact printing frame should be near your light box so you can view negs and then insert them into the frame ready for printing.
7 A light box is a useful item to have so you can illuminate the negatives and check sharpness using a magnifying lupe.
8 Enlarger If you are lucky enough to have the option of choosing your room then a high ceiling should be on your wish list .Not only does this offer better ventilation, but it's also important if a large columned enlarger is purchased. You obviously can't do anything about this if you have a low ceiling so check that the enlarger head can be swivelled so you can print off the wall or the floor and, in either case, plan where the enlarger will have to be placed for this to be possible.
9A masking frame will make it easier to print pictures with borders and holds the paper securely while you make an enlargement.
10 Keep your negative storage files to hand so you can find images to be printed without having to search around. Place a contact sheet with each page of negs to make the job even easier.
11Make sure the room is adequately ventilated. You can buy a special ventilator if you want the job doing right
12It's useful to have somewhere to sit, but a chair will get in your way. Buy a cheap round kitchen stool so you can swivel around and move from wet to dark with ease.
13Make sure any storage space is used effectively. Cupboards under the wet bench should be used for chemicals, mixing devices an and storage containers.
14 Cupboards under the dry bench should be used for papers, note books, reference material, enlarging accessories and filing sheets.