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World's smallest darkroom
Old 10-20-2005   #1
jrong
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World's smallest darkroom

I'm thinking of temporarily converting one of my bathrooms to a darkroom. Not sure how feasible it is. Even as London bathrooms go, it's quite small.

The dimensions are approximately 3" x 7" but part of that space is taken up by a shower cabinet, a sink, a bidet and a toilet.

There are no electrical outlets and I will have to drag an extension plug underneath the door to power up the necessary components.

How realistic is this, really?

Jin
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Old 10-20-2005   #2
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Well .. its looks like my bathroom. If you can pull it out tell me how you did it
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Old 10-20-2005   #3
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power is available from the light fitting, and bidets are good for washing your prints.....

Roger Hicks illustrated situations like this in his fairly recent Darkroom book, done in conjuction with Paterson.
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Old 10-20-2005   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrong
I'm thinking of temporarily converting one of my bathrooms to a darkroom. Not sure how feasible it is. Even as London bathrooms go, it's quite small.

The dimensions are approximately 3" x 7" but part of that space is taken up by a shower cabinet, a sink, a bidet and a toilet.

There are no electrical outlets and I will have to drag an extension plug underneath the door to power up the necessary components.

How realistic is this, really?

Jin

Why not.... mine is about double the size, but there's a full bath too. Cut a piece of plywood to about the size of 3 8x10 trays and fit that over the bidet or toilet, and that'll be your working counter/surface..I actually just lay out the trays on the floor or bathtub. I use an old Russian suitcase enlarger, but most 35mm enlargers are about the same size when setup. You can even eliminate the stopbath especially when doing test prints, just go directly from dev to fix.
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Old 10-20-2005   #5
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Nova do a vertical tank with a small footprint (about the size of a shoe-box) that takes a litre each of dev and fix and does 10x8 sheets and washes as well.
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Old 10-20-2005   #6
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Hey Nova do really cool "darkroom tents" - how cool is that??! :lol:

I wonder how effective their blackout material is for covering up windows. If it was as easy as drawing a blind (and taping up the sides), I might have more options, like maybe my spare room - except it has a large window. And no sink, although it is a only quick dash to the bathroom.

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Old 10-20-2005   #7
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black pool liner and gaffer tape is quick, cheap, re-usable and efficient.
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Old 10-20-2005   #8
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Hi, Jin,

blackout material is available from John Lewis at about a quarter of the price from Nova.

Nova tanks are great, but you need to leave them in one place when full. Mr Cad usually has used Nova Monochromes at less than half the new price.

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Old 10-20-2005   #9
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Hello Mark,

Duh, edited to add: the blackout linings from John Lewis.. hmm will have to check them out. Thanks for the tip.

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Last edited by jrong : 10-20-2005 at 03:40.
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Old 10-20-2005   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markinlondon
Hi, Jin,

blackout material is available from John Lewis at about a quarter of the price from Nova.

Nova tanks are great, but you need to leave them in one place when full. Mr Cad usually has used Nova Monochromes at less than half the new price.

Mark
If you use the Nova Quad tank, place it on a small cart, so you can wheel it away for storage. I use one for 11 by 14 prints.

My bathroom is larger than 3 by 7 feet. If your bathroom has a hallway leading to it, you may want to tent off a portion of it for more space. I rent my apartment and I installed a doorway in mine.

I typically use the older Nova 8 by 10 Pods. Each of which holds three removable 8 by 10 trays. I have two sets of Nova Pods so I can do two separate fix baths.

With one set of Nova Pods, you need space for the pods and an 8 by 10 tray of water to hold the finished prints in before your final wash.

Another thing about the older Nova pods is that a set of three fit into a large kitty litter bucket. With the litter bucket, you can pick them up and move them. Plus the bucket catches most drips. Dektol and carpeting are not a match made in heaven.
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Old 10-20-2005   #11
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when I was a kid, i developed photos with my dad in the kitchen at night. A normal blanket over the window, and a normal lamp painted red (it stunk). my dad had this "enlarger suitcase" which was very handy. you could assemble it together and disassemble after you were done, and just stow away the suitcase.
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Old 10-20-2005   #12
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Jin,

try these people for cheap used darkroom kit

http://www.secondhanddarkroom.co.uk/2620/frames.php

Or, for a real experience visit Mr Cad, they had several Nova tanks when I was there a few weeks back.

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Old 10-20-2005   #13
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A processor would probably save some space for me. I have a question - do you need immediate access to running water to use such a processor? I've never seen one first-hand and don't know how they work. So I apologise if this is a stupid question!
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Old 10-20-2005   #14
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Nope - the processor is self contained. It's called a slot processor, but in practice it a series of veritcal trays. You will need a water source for the final wash, but you can do this in a separate room. The prints are no longer light sensitive once they've been properly fixed.

If you do find an older set of Nova Pods, their foot print is about a square foot.
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Old 10-20-2005   #15
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I hijack the kitchen as a darkroom. Using blackout stuff I got from Jessops years ago velcro to the window frames. It sounds daft but I find the best blackout material is white, it reflects the dim light enough to able you to move around better without stepping on Fred the cat (black of course, see avatar)

To save space I also use the Nova slot processors, a 12 x 16 monochrome 3 slot and a 10 x 8 trimate heated for colour. These take up very little space and sit in the corner of the kitchen. A good plus here is that the chemistry lasts for ages as the slot processors have 'lids' that minimise the oxidation area.

The bit that takes up the room is the enlarger, an Opemus 6 but that's easilly taken apart or moved.

It takes about 20 minutes to get everything ready for an evenings printing.
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Old 10-20-2005   #16
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Second what Fred said. With a Nova you can spend a productive half hour or hour printing. The set-up time is negligible. And I think mine has paid for itself in extended chemical life.

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Old 10-20-2005   #17
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A good cheap economic print washer is a large seed tray from the garden store, they have some drainage holes in the bottom that lest the water run out. Just plonk it in the sink and turn on the tap to keep the print covered with water for the recomended wash time. Works a treat and stops the print wandering about the sink running away from the water.

A tall toast rack also makes a good natural print dryer on the drainer.
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Old 10-20-2005   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrong
3" x 7"
3 inches by 7 inches?!?!?!?!?
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Old 10-20-2005   #19
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Yeah well,,,,,, it's probably inverse photo envy,...... 3 foot by 7 foot.... ?????
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Old 10-20-2005   #20
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Thanks, I never even thought of using print processors to save space. Now I see I can even fit them in my tiny bathroom.. whoops 3'x7' I mean... and will have no need for blackout material. Will have to trundle down to Mr Cad one of these days to find some second hand processors... bearing in mind that I think it's probably worth sitting in one of Croydon's infamous traffic jams for.
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Old 10-20-2005   #21
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I have done this before and here is how. I built a sturdy wooden stand to fit over the sink high enough to clear the faucets. I built a draw in it to store my papers and other stuff.
I Then put an enlarger on top of it, trays went on a rack I built over the tub. Gralab timer was on top of the toilet tank. Safelight hung from the shower curtain rod. I could set it up and break it down in just a few minutes and store it in a closet. My biggest enlarger in there was a Beseler 23c but that was heavy to break down. Later I got a small bogen that did 6x6 and 35mm. I put a good Nikor lens on it and could carry it in one hand and store it on a closet shelf covered in a trash bag to keep out dust. Take power from your light socket.
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Old 10-20-2005   #22
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3x7 inches, man and i thought dutch bathrooms are too small!

Well, i guess you will be restricted to processing 35mm format, then
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Old 10-20-2005   #23
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It's totally doable man.
My first darkroom a few years ago was a room ajacent to my basement room in my parent's house. I had to duct tape the hell out of it, and it was....unproductive at best, but I did learn to print. There was an open doorway to another ajacent room where we had a pellet stove (little wood pellets if you don't know) that unfortunately produced a lot of light polution that was awkward to get rid of.

So when I got back form studying in Vienna, I setup a darkroom (or more aptly a dark-space) in my understairs closet in my room, at the same house. Although the proper dimensions where probablly 3 1/2 by 10', it was a descending length, and with shelves all down the right side.

I had a big Omega color enlarger, which probablly stands 5 feet tall, so I only had effectively 3 feet by 3 feet of walking space, just about enough to turn around in. Oddly, I never really felt hemmed in, and it was a very convenient and productive space, and I made a lot of prints.

I would suggest something similar to the setup I had: assuming you have a somewhat larger enlarger (that sounds redundant) build yourself a tiny cart out of a small piece of plywood, say 2x2, and screw in some little furniture wheels. Atop this, place a small chest, which will serve as your paper storage place. Line it with black felt if need be, and you'll never have to worry about a higher tech solution. Atop this goes your enlarger. Although it might at first thought seem silly to have your tiny space taken up by a be-wheeled enlarger, being able to move the thing back and forth even a couple of inches can be a tremendously handy thing, if nothing else but to get a better angle on dodging and burning, particularly if you're doing big prints.

You have one advantage that I did not have in my silly little closet, and that is of course running water. Since you don't have a proper tub in there, placing the trays in the tub is of course not an option.

You have then two options, as I see it (discounting all the processer possibilities, I'm thinking low budget): either build or buy some shelves to line a wall with, upon which all your trays, neg's, and such go; or build yourself a descending diagonal of shelves for your shower cabinet, three or four of them, for your trays. Place dev. on the top shelf, and then of course in descending order your other chemicals. In the bottom of your shower cabinet, you can place your wash tray. Having them as diagonals will allow you to spill a lot less chemicals flapping your prints all over, and it makes working in the near dark much much less confusing. You'll simply be able to slip the paper from one tray a couple inches over and down to the next.

Hopefully my suggestions are not totally bunk. Either way, good luck!

Last edited by bobofish : 10-20-2005 at 05:29.
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Old 10-20-2005   #24
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Hells Bells, I forgot to mention that my enlarger is on very solid and very heavy home made cart. I have two enlargers and one fits in a storage space within the cart when the that enlarger is not in use. In my small space I'm able to print from 35mm, 6x6 and 6x9 negs.

In your 3 by 7 ft bathroom this may not be an option. Try mounting a well supported fold down shelf at which ever wall is away from the entry way.
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