Thursday, July 20, 2006

Expand Your Photography Hobby: Construct a Darkroom!

With the popularity of digital cameras over the last number of years, more and more people are switching to that kind of photography. There remains a select group, however; those are the avid photographers who will use nothing but a 35 mm camera. Some of those 35 mm photography enthusiasts inevitably will want to set up their own personal darkroom at one time or another.

One thing that's fun to experiment with is the use of and then developing of black and white film. Some types of pictures turn out very stunning with this kind of treatment. It is interesting to experiment with various developing methods, too. When the photographer experiments with things like different filters on the camera, being the first to see the results is often quite memorable.

Having a darkroom is something that appeals to many people who still enjoy taking traditional pictures. The darkroom area can be as elaborate or primitive as you wish but there are just a few things that every darkroom has to have in common.

What are some of the things that you will need to have in order to start developing your own pictures?

(1) The first thing you will want to think about is whether you have a suitable area for a darkroom. What type of area will it have to be?

- The perfect area, of course, will be dark enough. You will be taking steps to block any bits of light that still come into the room later, but starting with a dark area will be a plus. This is often a section of a basement, and some people will use a spare bathroom. Most bathrooms have just one small window, so it tends to work well for a darkroom, but having no window at all would be the better option.

- If you will be using the basement, it is a good idea to block your darkroom area off from the rest of the basement unless you are 100% sure that no one will be opening a door at any time of your developing.

- Another consideration is the temperature of the area you will be using. Your darkroom should remain a steady 67 to 70 degrees. It should not be an area that will have high humidity.

- Your darkroom should be in an area where there will not be a higher amount of dust than is normal in a room. Be sure to keep the area clean and free of dust as much as possible.

- Plan enough space so that you will have room for a "wet area" and a "dry area."

(2) Your darkroom will need to be equipped with a source of water and electricity. If you have hard water, check with a photographic supplier to see if you will need a filter for the water. You need to use clear water for the developing processes. If it is impossible to have a water source directly in your darkroom area, make sure the source is as near to the area as possible.

(3) You will need ventilation. Use an exhaust fan or some other kind of fan that will take the chemical fumes from the room. At the very least, make sure there is some kind of air vent that will not allow any light to come into the vicinity. This is why a spot that doesn't have space for a fan of some kind isn't the best choice for a darkroom.

(4) Check online for various ways to block the light from entering your darkroom. No light at all should be allowed to come in. You will be using things like weather stripping and very dark plastic to keep every bit of light away from the darkroom. If there are tiny beams and cracks of light remaining, there is black photographic tape (opaque) that you can use.

(5) Decide where you will be buying your equipment and chemicals. Starting with black and white developing is a good choice due to color developing being more difficult for beginners.

(6) Strongly consider taking a class for this. The class will not only teach you everything you need to know, but also provide you with the lists of the things you will need to buy for your darkroom. If you can't do this, at least pick up a good book on the subject so that you will not be starting blind.