Need some help for my new darkroom... : LUSENET : Black_and_White_Photography : One Thread

First of all I want to point out how grateful I am for this newsgroup and messages I've read thus far. Now, my agony. I'm assembling all the standard things you need for a brand new personal darkroom in my living space. I don't wnat anything special; the darkroom will be exclusive to me so there won't be much fuss. So I'm gonig through all the basic decisions now, because finally I've got an enlarger I can live with. I've been browsing through camera stores and I've come up with a few questions that I hope you can help me with. Trays-is there any difference between a stainless steel tray and a plastic customery one you find in the stores? Do the chemicals react at all? Timer- Is GRALAB 300 the best? For the econonomically challenged, that is. Seems easy to find a used one for $55 to $60 Canadian. I've found another one, much more portable, caled MARK-O-TIME or something like that, same price, brand new, but how accurate is it? I've never developed before in any darkroom, but from watching an hour tape of Fred Picker it's apparent that milliseconds are crucial. 11/2 second did that!?!? So, I fiddled with the timer in the store, and the dial is compeltely off compared to the timer! How can I get a timer that measures a millisecond, or one second accurately?! Should I isolate myself for the time being to look at digital timers? Water-regarding all this talk of water and all the talking I've heard, can there be trouble if I use tap-water thats not necessarily peachy? Should I use a normal water filter? Would that make any difference? Safelight-I'm lost with this. Does it matter if I choose a normal safelight as in a bulb, over the safelights that are dedicated safelights? Will there be trouble using a safelight bulb if I use the same bulb over paper that changes, from Ilford to Agfa, to Oriental (Exists?) to Kodak? Don't you need special filters for some papers? Those are my problems. Can all the details in the darkroom be worked out? Fred Picker (loved the tape) mentions an "intermittance effect"; what is this? Questions, questions, questions! I want a smooth darkroom.

-- Anonymous, May 12, 1997


Darkroom help

Hi Albert

First of all congratulations on your new darkroom, I hope that you get as much satisfaction as I have from mine. Is this a permanent or temporary set-up? I can't answer all of your questions but I do have some advice. First you can get precipitate, especially from the developer, with plastic trays IF you don't clean them well. I found that a good washing after you have finished for the day will keep them clean for years. I have never used stainless steel trays but the sinks certainly can get a build up from the fixer and I can imagine that they would be ridiculously expensive. You are right about 1.5 seconds making a difference but I wouldn't get too concerned about millisecond (ie 20 ms) amounts unless you are really picky. The most important thing about a timer is not how accurate it is for absolute measurments but are the chosen times repeatable. Time is relative in this case; as long as you always use the same timer it doesn't matter if 1 sec on the dial is really 1.3 seconds but is it 1.3 seconds every time. However, having said that, it is important that the scale be linear. A good test is to take a reading then double, triple, quadruple etc. the chosen unit, if the measured times don't jive closely with your predicted values then forget it. Naturally it is more difficult to reproduce the exact time with the cruder mechanical timers but once you get used to your system it gets much easier. As for water quality, I think you should use the cleanest water that is economically available, especially for your film development. I am fortunate to work in a science lab and have a continous supply of ultra-pure water and I found that all of the blemishes I was getting on my films from my home water have dissapeared. If you are using a chlorinated water supply let the water sit for a day in an open container so the chlorine can diffuse out. Best of luck with your set-up.

-- Anonymous, May 12, 1997

Albert, glad to see you getting your own darkroom. On trays, anything that holds water will work as long as you keep them clean. A few chemicals may react to certain tray compositions, but warnings usually accompany those that will. I do all my ferrocyanide bleaching in glass kitchen types for this reason. But, a really cheap way to go is like a friend of mine-picked up used tupperware tubs at the thrift store for fifty cents each. They do 16x20 size, are deep and have worked well for him for over 4 years now. I concur with the above answer on timers. As long as it is repeatable and linear, it is accurate within itself and will work well. As for a safelight, I and a number of others have had good luck with the OC sleeves designed for a 48 inch fluorescent tube. Nice & bright in my darkroom and since I test it with pre-fogging some paper for a sensitivity check I know I am OK. As to Fred's tape & what is recommended. I haven't seen it. But, Picker is technically proficient. Don't worry about it. This is creativity we are talking about, not splitting the atom. With all the variables involved in your darkroom getting too technical will only drive you nuts and keep you buying more & more 'magic bullets' and wasting money and a lot of time in constant testing. Just get the basics & print. Milliseconds, etc., is a good way to feed insecurity. Being technically perfect yet lacking imagination and vision is a waste of time. Create good images, print with quality and repeatability and don't get caught up in all the 'rules'. Get what you want and let folks see results-if they are good they will speak for themselves. As to water, I live in an area of hard, hard water. I filter the neg dev & rinse water with an in line filter. As for results they look as good as anything I have done elsewhere with other municipal systems as well as when I tried the distilled water route. Read a bit of David Vestal in Photo Techniques, and some Bruce Barnbaum in same. If it works for you, use it. Good luck.

-- Anonymous, May 12, 1997

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