Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Developing the Darkroom

After many long months I now have a working darkroom at last! The old storage area out the back of the garage that was once a home for many spiders and random items has been transformed. It took a long time as I had to fashion some items from scratch and convert or paint others. I had a small room 2m by 4m to work with and a small budget. I wanted a nice clean area that was as dust free as possible (to save time spotting later on). This darkroom is for developing film only so that made things simple.

First thing to be done was to clean it out and give it a coat of paint. After reading some internet forums I painted the walls matt white and not black as I assumed would be the best. This makes it a nice light space to work in and since there is no light getting in there is no problems with the film being fogged. The floor was scrubbed and coated in a clear concrete paint to seal it. I built a small wooden platform over the open drain that also saves the feet from the hard concrete. A well connected friend got me some tables and safe lights for free (thanks Tristan).

All set to get to work!
Next step was to make the room completely light proof. This turned out to be not very difficult to do really. I covered the window with a scratch built box that allows air flow but blocks the light. It looks odd from outside but does let air in without any fans or complications.

This light proof box covers the existing window.
I sealed around the existing door with a rubber weather strip and made a lip to stop light entering from under it. A second door that fits very snugly into the outer edge of the door frame stopped all light leaks.

The second inner door is matt black (chalk board paint) to stop reflections.
To dry the films I visited the ex government furniture outlet and found a steel locker. After removing the shelves and internals it was the perfect size for a drying cabinet. I laced some elastic cord through the top to hang film from and gave it a stylish paint job. I heat the unit with an oil filled heater that sits next to the locker, that does the job well. 

The film dries in 1 hour and holds around 10 35mm films.
 Getting this darkroom working was a bit of work but well worth it. I have processed my Indian trip that has been sitting in the cupboard since I returned in November 2009. That was about 26 rolls of TMAX 400 (35mm). I have also developed about 15 rolls of Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100 (120) from two trips to the South Coast. I will post up some examples of this work in the next few days.

The red light is for atmosphere only :)

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