BP Film And Photo
September 12, 2020
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Creating a Darkroom at Home

Author: Administrator
Working in the darkroom is a hallmark of being a photographer, as well as a great way to grab a little personal time to really focus on your craft. There's something to be said about a door that literally cannot be opened and the impact of having no interruptions can have on your work. Unfortunately, few people have access to a local darkroom, so the best alternative for developing your own prints is to create a darkroom at home.

Location, Location, Location

Garages, sheds, basements and extra rooms are all great places to have a darkroom. Just bear in mind that the materials are a bit hazardous and do carry a smell, and you're going to have a far easier time if the place you choose has access to running water. Additionally, since the room you choose will have to be completely sealed of light, it's a good idea to choose a room with no windows that you don't mind removing from normal life - once you make a room a darkroom it's not going to serve as anything else. That's why sheds or basements are common darkroom locations because they can be used just for that purpose and have running water and electricity. You can also set up a darkroom in an unused bathroom however this might be a bit cramped.

Your Darkroom Supplies

Most of what you need for your own darkroom is pretty basic and won't cost you too much. Excluding whatever it takes to lightproof the room you use, you can get by with the following:

* 3 Trays big enough for 8x10 paper
* 3 Sets of tongs
* Chemicals (see below)
* Enlarger and timer (see below)
* Easel
* Darkroom light

The only expensive things you need are the enlarger, which you fortunately only need to purchase once, and the chemicals, which will need to be refreshed now and again. You can buy a photo enlarger for around $200 and a basic timer for about $150 or you can search online for some used equipment.

The chemicals are a bit more complicated. You can get most chemicals in either powder or liquid form. With powders you have to be careful as they can become airborne and do require mixing however they are easier to store. Liquids on the other hand, are easier to work with but are more expensive than powders and take up more storage space.

At the very least, you'll need to invest in some sort of developer, fixer, and stop bath. It's a good idea to buy small quantities, or if using a powder only mix small amounts at a time, as the chemicals will go bad over time. You'll also want to keep the chemicals in the dark in plastic bottles as glass can easily break when you're working in the dark. A darkroom light will help you see while working with your paper but please know that a darkroom light can still ruin undeveloped film so only develop your film in complete darkness.

The Darkroom Setup

Once you have the chemicals sorted and all of your supplies in order, you're good to go. The best darkroom layout will have a dry side and a wet side - do your cutting and enlarging on a workbench or table, then have another bench or table with your developer, stop bath, and fixer laid out and ready to go. If you have the budget, it's best if you can have a special darkroom sink that is "always running, always full" so you can make sure that your prints are fully clean from chemicals. You may also want to consider adding a lock to the door to prevent accidental door openings while your working. However if you lock the door, just make sure that you can easily open it from inside in case of an emergency.

Darkroom developing and printing can be done in any room that is protected from light, so once you have all of the supplies you can really set it up however your space allows. Figure out what works for you and soon enough you'll be printing your own photos in no time.


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