window darkening for darkroom?
Old 06-15-2015   #1
Pherdinand
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window darkening for darkroom?

hi all,

I am thinking of a solution to darken 3 relatively small windows next to each other in my attic (about 1x2m in total), to be able to use it as a darkroom.
I would need a non-permanent, easy-on easy-off solution. So e.g. aluminum foil and scotch tape is not the best option.
Some sort of easily fittable frame with dark material in it... or such.
I want to use it temporarily gfor darkroom once ina while but i need to take it off after that (otherwise wify will not like the idea...)
If it takes too mlong and too much effort to put it on and take off every time, i will just skip/postpone it all the time (as i did till now)...

So-
Any clever ideas welcome!
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Old 06-15-2015   #2
lynnb
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I use some large sheets of thick cardboard (from large packing boxes) cut to fit tightly within the frame. In bright daylight I use two such sheets: one the same size as the glass, and another that fits within the outer frame holding the window. These give a complete seal, and just wedge in using a little pressure. Cheap, easy to remove and easy to replace if they get buckled.
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Old 06-15-2015   #3
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I'm using pillows... My wife likes decorative pillows. Four of them will block small window.
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Old 06-15-2015   #4
CNNY
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Look for black out fabric. Make sure it blocks 100% of light, as some cheaper ones don't. It should be a rubberized cloth, with the rubber sandwiched between two layers. At least one side is usually white, so you don't need to scare the neighbors with blackness.
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Old 06-15-2015   #5
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It can not be done with home solutions in a single step. You will need one step to fit to the glass and another to fit over the entire window frame.

If you are a decent carpenter, a sheet of 1/8 masonite or underlayment fitted with wood that enters the window perimeter inside, then additional framing to go outside the the window casing. That is a effectively a double seal as light will not go around corners. Add some window seal strip self adhesive to complete the outer seal. You will probably need so studs in the window to go thru the device and hold it with wing nuts.

None of this is easy without tools. Option is to use room darkening shade and work at night.
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Old 06-15-2015   #6
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Once upon a time, I used to turn my bedroom into a darkroom. To black out the window, I installed a strip of velcro hook material around the window and stitched a frame of velcro loop material to a large rectangle of blackout cloth, cut to be the shade.

Light sealing the window then took just a minute to roll out and attach the shade. Since the walls were white and the velcro hook material was white too, they were barely noticeable when the shade was removed.

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Old 06-15-2015   #7
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I use aluminum foil to lightproof our laundry room but have used heavy cardboard too. You can often pick up cardboard at an arts & craft store.

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Old 06-15-2015   #8
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I bought some heavy duty contractor bags from HD. 2 layers over the windows and its light tight.
... used thumb tacks in the wood to hold it up.
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Old 06-15-2015   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CNNY View Post
Look for black out fabric. Make sure it blocks 100% of light, as some cheaper ones don't. It should be a rubberized cloth, with the rubber sandwiched between two layers. At least one side is usually white, so you don't need to scare the neighbors with blackness.
I have a portable darkroom I built to use in the field. I purchased the most dense light blocking blackout cloth I could get from Chicago Canvas. It's not expensive and you could make curtains with it.

Cut black foamcore for each window and oversize blackout curtains for each. This should do the trick. The blackout cloth is amazing even it direct sunlight.
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Old 06-15-2015   #10
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Depending upon you skills, fund, available materials here is the way I would go.

Thin (3mm-ish) plywood cut to fit inside the frames of each window but covers the window itself when in place. Tight to stay in place but not too tight you can not remove.

Used throw-pillows to fill space between wood and what comes next.

Place strips of Velcro around the window frames (not where they touch each other (read large rectangle area)). Build cover out of canvas on the outside and two layers of felt-like material (thin jackets over here in the states use a material called fleece) on the inside. End the fleece just over the edge of the trim around the windows and put the other side of the Velcro on the canvas (stronger than fleece).

The wood (could be cardboard with aluminum foil too), pillows, fleece and canvas should block out even the most direct sun light. If you want to get fancy, you could make another canvas cover (with the same side of velcro as on the window frame) and put together a nice top two a window seat when not in use for as a light-block/darkroom maker.

That would be my approach.

B2 (;->
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Old 06-15-2015   #11
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I have a non-standard window in the bathroom that a I black out. I made a simple wooden frame to fit into the window and taped black-out plastic on each side (obtained at www.ultrafineonline.com). If you look closely at black bags, even heavy contractor bags, they are not light tight. Because the frame is not perfectly fitted in the window (both your window and frame would have to be perfect for this to happen), I apply fingertip caulk all around the frame/window interface and it is light tight. Having to apply the fingertip caulk each time can be annoying but it goes fast and using new caulk each time is not expensive.
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Old 06-15-2015   #12
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This could not be more timely as I'm looking to do just that this week !
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Old 06-15-2015   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CNNY View Post
Look for black out fabric. Make sure it blocks 100% of light, as some cheaper ones don't. It should be a rubberized cloth, with the rubber sandwiched between two layers. At least one side is usually white, so you don't need to scare the neighbors with blackness.
I get my blackout cloth at the local fabric store and velcro it on to the windows. Only works well at night, though, 'cause the velcro isn't light-tight.
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Old 06-15-2015   #14
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Not the most elegant solution, but it works ! After I close the curtains it's pitch black in the room. It wasn't noon but still pretty bright outside


IMG_6341.jpg
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Old 06-15-2015   #15
Bill Clark
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I deleted my previous post.

The reason, I'd need to see a photo of the windows.

Easiest solution is to use the room at night. Maybe not if there is outdoor lighting.

I can think of several solutions but don't know if they would be applicable to your situation.
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Old 06-15-2015   #16
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Hi Csaba,

I was having a hard time with getting my room dark during the day until I came up with this - seemingly the simplest - solution. Not sure why I didn't think of this before.

I measured the window's frame and went to a local DIY store. I had two pieces of plywood (5mm) cut to the height exactly of the frame and the length that would make the two layers overlap at least 10-20cms.

Have a look below! My window has a nice and flat frame so the boards sit just fine. The only thing I needed to do is to glue some small rubber stoppers on the top to tuck the boards behind. Without that - if the window was open behind the boards, they were pushed in at times by the breeze.

It takes exactly 30 seconds to install them. Once removed - the room is back to full bright mode.

During the day I still have a tiny bit of light leak around the board but if I pull the dark curtain all that is gone. Even without the curtain though, I got no fog on my paper.

Cheers,
Ben


This is with the boards installed:



And this is when they are removed. You can see the pieces tucked behind the workbench.

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Old 06-16-2015   #17
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Wow, lots of different ideas/advices. Thanks, guys!

By the way- It's not dark enough outside during the night, we have a stupid strong street lamp just in front of the attic.

I'll probably start by trying the double cardboard ideas.
I don't really want to mount anything permanent on the window frame. It's white plastic frame - will reflect lots of light "around the corner" if i give it a chance, and no glueing/nailing/tacking is acceptable :/ Sticky tape (black) for temporary fixing of cardboard is probably OK.

I do have some woodworking tools and experience, i can make a negative frame probably, to hold the darkening sheet material in place.

That looks like a nice darkroom Ben

Any further ideas still welcome!
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Old 06-16-2015   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Clark View Post
I deleted my previous post.

The reason, I'd need to see a photo of the windows.

Easiest solution is to use the room at night. Maybe not if there is outdoor lighting.

I can think of several solutions but don't know if they would be applicable to your situation.
i'll make a pic of the windows, thanks
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Old 06-16-2015   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bence8810 View Post
Hi Csaba,

I was having a hard time with getting my room dark during the day until I came up with this - seemingly the simplest - solution. Not sure why I didn't think of this before.

I measured the window's frame and went to a local DIY store. I had two pieces of plywood (5mm) cut to the height exactly of the frame and the length that would make the two layers overlap at least 10-20cms.

Have a look below! My window has a nice and flat frame so the boards sit just fine. The only thing I needed to do is to glue some small rubber stoppers on the top to tuck the boards behind. Without that - if the window was open behind the boards, they were pushed in at times by the breeze.

It takes exactly 30 seconds to install them. Once removed - the room is back to full bright mode.

During the day I still have a tiny bit of light leak around the board but if I pull the dark curtain all that is gone. Even without the curtain though, I got no fog on my paper.

Cheers,
Ben


This is with the boards installed:



And this is when they are removed. You can see the pieces tucked behind the workbench.

That is indeed a neat solution. I see you even have one of them new-fangled black-out monitors.

Humor aside, I really do like what you have done there.
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Old 06-16-2015   #20
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I use our utility room. No windows but a louvered door to allow the previous furnace to suck in air. I went to a fabric store and purchased a large sheet of black fabric, rubberized on one side. I thumb-tacked it to the upper part of the door frame, and carefully drape it over the sides of the frame, aided by it being long enough to have part of it lay on the floor. A careful adjustment as needed and it works fine. That probably isn't going to help your window problem other than smaller strips should might be used, held on by that adhesive tape that easily pulls off without leaving any residue to collect dust.
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Old 06-16-2015   #21
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When I was in an apartment years ago I went a bit overboard, but it worked. I built a frame of 2x4 lumber that fit snuggly into the window opening. Then I screwed this frame to a larger sheet of plywood, larger than the window opening. A set of handles on the backside of the plywood made it easy to put up and take down. Then I got an old floral patterned bedsheet, pleated it and stapled it to the outside of the frame, so when someone sees it from the walkway they'd think it was a curtain.

For my sister-in-law's makeshift darkroom, in a downstairs laundry room, we hung a heavy blanket on a curtain rod inside the door of the room. It overlapped the door opening enough to provide sufficient light integrity for paper negatives - she was into pinhole box cameras.

BTW, I recently purchased some blackout fabric from a laser optics supply house, it's not totally light tight, you need to use two layers.

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Old 07-07-2015   #22
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Hey Csaba,

Any updates on your progress? Hope you solved it and are busy printing...

Ben
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Old 07-07-2015   #23
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haha
No not yet. Heat wave hit the lowlands, and in my attic it's easily 35+ (C, not F) even with windows open... had to postpone project a bit.
OTOH i built a brick garden BBQ in the meanwhile.
Switching priorities...
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Old 07-08-2015   #24
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haha
No not yet. Heat wave hit the lowlands, and in my attic it's easily 35+ (C, not F) even with windows open... had to postpone project a bit.
OTOH i built a brick garden BBQ in the meanwhile.
Switching priorities...
The BBQ surely sounds like the right project for the time being

Enjoy and do let us know how you get on with the windows...
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Old 07-09-2015   #25
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It always breaks my heart to throw the backing paper of my 120 films, especially since apparently that paper costs more then the film itself. So I decided to keep them, in hopes that I'll need a thin, super dense, blackout paper for a project of some sort. And bam, Your post made me realize: 120 backing paper will easily make a superb blackout curtain with a little diy effort. I'm guessing that about 20 lengths of 120 paper, glued together about 1/2 inch over 1/2 inch will easily cover a window. Two rods on each end to roll and unroll the 120 backing paper curtain and there you have it...
nice idea Ned.
They'd need to be taped together on the long side pretty well, tho. But yes it might work. The edges would also need to fit very well.

Too bad i only got 2 or 3 of those rolls.
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Old 07-09-2015   #26
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Quote:
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It always breaks my heart to throw the backing paper of my 120 films, especially since apparently that paper costs more then the film itself. So I decided to keep them, in hopes that I'll need a thin, super dense, blackout paper for a project of some sort. ....
I know. Why don't Ilford accept paper backings back for reuse?

For example, Dell encourages companies to return their laser printer toner cartridges so they can re-fill and re-sell.
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