Many photographers crave their own darkroom to process pictures. If you are building your own darkroom, don’t fret! It’s easier than you think. Even a beginner can turn a garage or an extra room into a darkroom dream-come-true.
The basic requirements for a darkroom are running water, light blockage, a dry area to dry your pictures and sturdy work surfaces. To lightproof a darkroom, start by blocking any windows with black masking tape, aluminum foil and a blackout shade. Then hang a blackout shade in front of the door that extends to the floor and beyond the door’s sides.
Darkroom Photographic Supplies
Divide your space into a Dry Side for printing and a Wet Side for chemical processing.
Darkroom Equipment: Dry Side
- film tanks and reels
- an enlarger
- a light-tight paper safe
- a safe light
- a timer
- an easel
- a grain magnifier
- a paper cutter
- a dodging and burning kit to darken or lighten areas of a picture
- sufficient storage space
- a safelight near the enlarger
- a print dryer
- a place to hang the film to dry.
Darkroom Equipment: Wet Side
- running water
- a sink at least five feet long
- one deep tray with holes on one side
- a short hose from faucet to deep tray
- four smaller trays, preferably 11”x14”
- print tongs
- film clips for hanging processed film to dry
- small, medium and large graduates for mixing chemicals
- 6 to 10 large dark bottles for chemical storage
- surgical gloves and face masks
- a safelight over the trays.
Darkroom Photo Enlarger
Although you can get a good photo enlarger for as little as $200, keep in mind that you get what you pay for. If cost is an issue, check auction sites that have good used equipment. Make sure that the enlarger you purchase has a standard lens mount, an option for a glass-less negative carrier. Also the bulbs the enlarger uses are affordable and easily obtained in your area.
Darkroom Chemicals and Safety
Ventilation is very important. While you can install a lightproof extraction fan above the “wet” area, this is an expensive method. A cheaper alternative is to use a range hood or conventional extraction fan, such as those used in a kitchen or bathroom. These fans can be purchased from a building supply warehouse.
If you have pets and children, be sure to store photographic chemicals in a secure place with the caps tightly sealed to prevent spillage.
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