Convert bathroom to darkroom?

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#1
I am interested in both 35mm and medium format film developing, I've never done any film developing before.

I saw a guide for 35mm film development, though I'm not sure how the medium format process differs. My wife Louise actually is so on board with this idea that she said I could use the bathroom as a darkroom. (She actually said I could use my upstairs man cave first, but it has no running water!)

We have a shower room upstairs and a downstairs bathroom rarely used except for guest toilet access. I'm not sure how light tight the room needs to be, but the window and under the door shouldn't be difficult to control, will the very very minor light through door edges cause a problem?

I post the images because I'd like to know if I'll have any issues with space.

A9106736.jpg

A9106737.jpg

Any general advice would be greatly received as well, I haven't looked into how 35 vs medium format developing changes.
Have heard of an enlarger, starting to have a vague idea of how it works - and it already raises the question of that versus scanner to PC?

A thought just struck me - If I stick Philips hue bulbs in the ceiling and set them to red would that cover me for lighting, or does it need to be a special bulb.
 
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StephenM

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#2
If it's just developing, you don't need a darkroom at all; you load the film into the (daylight) developing tank in a changing bag, put the lid on the tank and do everything else in the light. This can be true for all film sizes up to 10x8. Roll films are shorter and wider than 35mm; some people find that the extra width means that they tend to bend while you're trying to engage the front edge in the spiral, and are therefore more difficult to load. I started with 120 film, so all I noticed with 35mm was that as it was longer, it took longer to load. Once loaded, there's no difference except in volumes of chemicals required.

A red bulb may be too bright for a safelight; it's not only a matter of colour, but also of intensity. I'm not familiar with Philips hue bulbs, but the "set them to red" makes me wonder about the spectrum of light they emit, and whether they would be safe.

Enlarger or scanner is going to be a personal choice. Some prefer the wet (enlarger) route; some would like to follow it but can't make a darkroom; and some (myself included) prefer the scanner and inkjet because the results are better (in my hands, anyway).

For blacking out, you can get purpose made blinds (Novatech) or take a DIY approach. My darkroom door has a light proof curtain made from a couple of layers of the black polythene sold by garden centres to block light from weeds to prevent them coming up. You'd probably be able to use that with tape pretty well to black out the windows.
 
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#3
Medium format is no different to 35mm, apart from requiring more chemicals to cover the film and larger film spools. A darkroom in the bathroom is perfect for printing from film as you can mount the enlarger on a piece of wood over the bath, but you definitely don't need a darkroom just for developing. You just need a developing tank which is light tight but allows you to pour chemicals in and out, and then a dark tent or bag to load the film into the tank. There's a thread on here about developing black and white film somewhere that might be useful to you.

edit- here's the thread on B&W developing: https://www.talkphotography.co.uk/tutorials/how-to-develop-your-first-b-w-film.114/
and here is a list of threads you might find usefu:l https://www.talkphotography.co.uk/t...ion-where-to-find-tutorials-resources.571044/
 
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OP
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Thank you,

So darkroom only needed for enlarging negatives onto photosensitive paper.

And it's a choice between that and scanning the negatives.

I guess the bathroom isn't too ideal for an enlarger! but could be made to work.
 
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#6
"Oh the misery of darkroom work"

On a sensible note, creating a totally dark room for printing purposes is not that difficult. The hard part is getting ventilation without the encroachment of stray photons.

Good luck.
 

AndrewFlannigan

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#7
For several years my darkroom consisted of a frame of 2x2 planed wood over which I draped 2 thicknesses of builder's black plastic sheeting. This gave me a space 4ft x 4ft x 6ft 6in high. Into that space I got a 5x4 Omega enlarger and a 15x12 Nova twin developing tank. My table was a Xerox copier stand (£2 from the local auction house) with a piece of 1/2 inch ply on top.

You really don't need a lot of space for printing and developing. You can safely wash RC paper in the bath.
 
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#8
Are there any benefits of a darkroom for developing film?

The Nova Twin developing tank mentioned, whilst I still don't fully understand it - perhaps it means there are temperature self-regulating tanks which streamline the process..

i'll start watching some REAL videos as well, i think most of what I've known comes from TV
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xP-S4P2hH4o
 
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#9
In my current house, when we had our second child (30 years ago) I had to give up my dedicated darkroom (it only had plumbing because I fitted it). I was then permitted to use a shower room but only on a temporary basis. I was using colour and B&W negatives so maintaining the temperature of the chemicals was critical. The shower room did not have a window so a good light seal was fairly easy providing no one turned on a nearby house light. For colour, you cannot use any light and for B&W you will need the correct red light. You would be best to consult the film/paper manufacturers but do not assume because a light looks red, it does not have a broader spectrum and may be unsuitable. I used to work in the evenings in the winter which eased the light problem. I gave all of this up in the late 90's when I digitised the film instead. Later still moving to DSLR's.

My overall advice to you would be to gain access to a darkroom (perhaps a local college) and try before you invest the money and effort. I would hate to have to go back to a darkroom which was hot, smelly and uncomfortable and the techniques limited. The image quality from a modern DSLR well exceeds 35mm film and I suggest my 5D4 would probably better a medium format as well. If I had not experienced the darkroom period, I might have been curious to give it a try but having over 20 years experience is enough for me which is why I think you should at least give it a try first.

Dave
 
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#10
Are there any benefits of a darkroom for developing film?
If you're doing anything that needs tray developing, then a darkroom is essential. For 135 ("full frame"), 120 (medium format) and to a certain extent 5x4 (small-large format), you can use daylight tanks and a changing bag. As said above, you really only need a darkroom for printing.

Roger did a tour of his darkshed recently) which was interesting. It's a 12'x12' space and if I were going to do printing, I'd do something like this rather than a temporary job in the bathroom. But then I never played scalextric because of all the setting up and putting away... :)

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoTXYHH8h94
 

Asha

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#11
My overall advice to you would be to gain access to a darkroom (perhaps a local college)
This is a vg idea assuming that the UK colleges still allow joe public access to their labs as where i live overseas, it's a non starter.

In addition to that idea, and indeed something that I'm going to soon play with is direct contact printing which so long as you have a light tight changing tent ( which you would still need for developing film in a daylight tank as mentioned by @StephenM )is totally feasable without a darkroom.

This would give you a mix of experience in developing film and making prints onto paper ( albiet small ( ie the size of the negative).
Then that leaves digital scanning of the negatives and ink jet printer printing which although a different route, allows you to obtain larger prints.

In a way it allows you to have best of both worlds without going to a lot of work, expense and of course "losing" use of your bathroom.
 

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#13
Are there any benefits of a darkroom for developing film?


View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xP-S4P2hH4o
I can't think of any benefits of using a darkroom for film development.
Patterson (for example) produce daylight tanks which do exactly what it says on the tin.

Film loading bags are inexpensive (relatively speaking) and can, to all intents and purposes, be used anywhere.

The biggest challenge I encountered with film processing was thermal control and film washing between processing steps.
This is particularly an issue when using E6 chemistry.
 
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#14
Are there any benefits of a darkroom for developing film?
There are in that you can leave everything set up and ready to go. It's also nice to have your own dust-free space to hang negatives. But like others have said, all you really need for film processing is a sink.

My first darkroom was a small bathroom. I put boards over the bath to stand the enlarger and paper developing tanks (Nova slot processors). I made it light-tight with blackout material used to back curtains. I originally had 'official darkroom' vinyl blackout material bought at much greater cost, but it was rubbish—you could still see the light through three layers of it. I hung a double sheet of curtain over the door and fastened it with duct tape. Draft excluders are good for stopping light getting under doors, but they also prevent ventilation, so make sure you regularly open the door.

Served me well for B&W and colour printing.

Just thinking...if you process a lot of film, having a dedicated room means you could leave a Jobo processor set up. My current darkroom (laundry/boiler room/darkroom) is way too small for that...but it would be really handy.

Ps. don't under-estimate the benefits of having a toilet in your darkroom!
 
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#15
[QUOTE="

Ps. don't under-estimate the benefits of having a toilet in your darkroom![/QUOTE]

Yep, the cistern is really handy for the final washing of your processed film.
 
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#16
Thanks everyone, I've learnt a lot this morning - in particular - I won't be making a darkroom out of the bathroom

I will try my hand at developing film though and using a changing bag
 
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#17
Thanks everyone, I've learnt a lot this morning - in particular - I won't be making a darkroom out of the bathroom

I will try my hand at developing film though and using a changing bag
You’ve heard of a thing called digital right? :whistle:
 
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#18
You’ve heard of a thing called digital right? :whistle:
I sold my M10 'et al' because I needed the funds to get setup professionally - but I keep looking at that, the monochrom, the X1D II, the 907x https://www.hasselblad.com/cfv-ii-50c-907x/

I was hoping film would be a nice distraction from digital cameras... and cheaper

Just fancied the manual experience, or medium format look
 
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#19
I was hoping film would be a nice distraction from digital cameras... and cheaper

Just fancied the manual experience, or medium format look
I was hoping for the same after blowing god knows how many thousands ££ on film gear.
I was wrong. Messing about with film loading and chemicals is a complete pain to me.
Not to mention the fact I was digitising everything with a scanner and that's tedious too.

As for cheaper, not a chance. It'll cost the better part of £60 to buy and process 5 rolls of slide film in 120 format which in round figures is £1.00 per picture.

Regardless of my ranting however, I do wish you luck in your venture.
 
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#20
Deving film is no problem, its the printing !!!.


Maybe seek out a local photography college that runs adult photography evening classes or a photography darkroom club somewhere.
 
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#21
Pottering about with film processing isn't that expensive. I bought everything for film processing and printing (admittedly just b&w, cheapo durst M30 or something enlarger) from fleabay for under £150 (quite a lot under I think but I didn't keep a record). The only variable costs are chemicals and films, and yes, of course it's more expensive than digital, but the OP/I aren't doing it for cheap photography, it's for the craic. Ditching the printing and just doing the film processing will be even cheaper to set up for, though a lot depends on whether you want to do colour films (I don't).

(Edited to add: of course there's the scanner to buy if not wet-printing, that will be a few hundred quids if you want a half-decent one, but for dabbling, anything will do to start with I imagine)
 
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#23
You can test a "safelight" by taking a sheet of paper out in total darkness. Exposing it for a short time under the enlarger (the idea being to get a very pale grey when developed) once you have the time sorted do the same again, This time place someting on the paper after the exposure (coins etc) now turn on your safelight give it a few minutes turn it off and develop that sheet. If you can see a difference where the coins were the safelights not safe.
The idea of a base exposure is to get over the papers threshold.
I've used a bathroom with no problems in the past. The trick is blacking it out properly. It does need to be fiarly light tight.
Oh yes if you have children put a bolt on the door, otherwise you can bet on someone popping in to see whats happening just as your loading the film on the spiral.
 
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#24
What about the a9 etc?
I have my two A9 and Leica Q2 - I just thought film would be a way to entertain my frivolities without having to spend lots of money (up front) :D

I prefer the Leica to the Sony for the shooting experience and image quality, but the Sony are the much needed workhorses.
 
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#25
Just as a point of interest, what is it you shoot on a professional basis?
 

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#27
While it's possible to get film onto a spiral in a small darkbag/changing bag, it's a damn sight easier in a darkroom, especially when you're starting out - it's all too easy to make a mistake and trying to figure out what is where in a tiny space isn't easy. It's hard enough to figure it out in a nice big room!
It does need to be a properly dark, blacked out room though - NO light creeping in round/under doors, windows etc.. If you think about it, a lens's aperture at f/16 or so is pretty damn small and an exposure time of 1/500th of a second will often be enough to create a proper image at that aperture, so ANY stray light in an area/volume where there's undeveloped film will fnurk it!
 
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#28
OK, I used to do all this on a wafer-thin budget.

Loading film into daylight tanks - do it after dark in your bedroom, doors & curtains shut, under the covers. Works for Tri-X, HP5 etc, can't remember if I've done colour or not.

Enlarging mono in the bathroom - there's a streetlight in line of sight of our bathroom window, and that was my safelight. Enlarger went on a small table, dev trays were developer in the shower, stop and fix in the bath. Exposure time calculated from the ticking of the immersion heater timer because I couldn't afford a timer.

Enlarging colour in the bathroom - boards fitted to the windows & material by the door to make it light tight. Processing done in rocker tank initially, then later in a drum/waterbath arrangement, with my first ever print on CIBAChrome from transparencies.

There's nothing 'special' or difficult about printing at home, buy don't expect to produce commercial quantities of prints: if I could generate 5 good prints from a nights work then I was happy. And it always has to be an evening/night's work. At one time I had access to a real darkroom through work, and could turn out 4/5 colour prints per hour processing one at a time.
 
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sirch

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#29
While it's possible to get film onto a spiral in a small darkbag/changing bag, it's a damn sight easier in a darkroom, especially when you're starting out - it's all too easy to make a mistake and trying to figure out what is where in a tiny space
At least you know it's within reach inside the bag :) I've never had a significant problem loading film in a bag, just think it through before you start. The worst that happens is the usual jamming in the spiral.


But I've gone and jinxed it now...
 
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#30
If you decide to go the bathroom route the blacking out is very important to say the least for film loading . If you want to see how effective your blackout is just sit in the bathroom for about 30 mins , your eyes will become adjusted to the blackness, if its a good light seal you will see nothing a totally dark room can also be very disorientating and its dangerous if you become confused you just have to learn how to operate in that environment and if anything goes wrong don,t panic you have to know where things are!.
Once the films in the tank its easy because its red light on. and you,ll be surprised at how bright a red light is compared to total blackness .
However loading film in a proper photographic light tight bag is easy , do it in a room with subdued light say curtains closed in the evening .

I have done it with a camera and also the tank wrapped in a fleece jacket with my arms through the arm holes and the jacket zipped up and wrapped over outdoors .
Get you hands on some dirt cheap film and practice loading the dev tank with one and then two films onto the coils and then making sure the pouring funnel makes the click stops.
Practice 35mm film loading the tank coils over and over again till you feel confident using the cheapo film with your eyes open then closed then in the dark or in the loading bag.

120 is even more fun and so are the crys and language when you hear someone shout when they realize they have just processed the paper from the roll and not the film !!!

As they say practice makes perfect
 
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#31
Once the films in the tank its easy because its red light on. and you,ll be surprised at how bright a red light is compared to total blackness .
once its in the tank its normal light in the kitchen.
and to the op ,,,the only reason I can think of to develop / print your own films is because you want to ,,,

if you are printing with an enlarger you don't need the bathroom totally black/dark ,,although its best . but you do need the film to be kept in total darkness when its taken out of the cassette and put into the tank .
 

StephenM

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#32
and to the op ,,,the only reason I can think of to develop / print your own films is because you want to ,,,
I'd add: cheaper, faster, total control of developer and processing. Some might even say that it's fun and gives a sense of personal satisfaction.
 
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#33
,the only reason I can think of to develop / print your own films is because you want to ,,, and its cheaper, faster, total control of developer and processing. Some might even say that it's fun and gives a sense of personal satisfaction.

there sorted
 
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#34
In my last couple of years of using film, I was scanning and processing digitally so disbanded the darkroom. I did not need a darkroom for just film processing as I used a Patterson black bag to load my Patterson film spiral and tanks. By that time my colour film was a standard C41 process and I was using XP2 for B&W which also required a C41 process. I became lazier and started to take C41 colour film to the local lab to save time/cost but only let them tackle an XP2 film once. While the development time was similar the XP2 had to spend much more time in the final fix. I found they had not done this though it was not too late but I went back to always processing them myself after this.

Dave
 
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#35
Get (or steal download pdf!!) The Darkroom Handbook by Michael Langford. It's the bible of the job, and contains a whole chapter on building home dark-rooms, whether dedicated, part time, under stairs or bathroom conversion, cupboards etc etc etc....

I think I have followed most of the suggestions over the years since picking up a copy when I was at uni, and improvised Dark-Rooms in each student digs or wherever, including my mum's kitchen (most edible product ever made in it!!!), no black-out, just curtains shut and lights off after every-one gone to bed!!! Even had a go at my first and only colour prints there!!!

You really DONT have to be all too precious about the job... it helps... b-u-t..... mostly give it a go and see what cracks!

Its Colin Chapman vs John Cooper thinking; JC said build it rugged then add lighness and simplificate; Chapman said, build it light and brace it where it breaks... if you start skinny and see where the fails happen you can fix them next time around, if you try and build it bomb-proof from the off, you can spend a lot of time and effort and money and still get fails you need fix, so dodge the redundancy, expect the fails! That's my advice! But apply some know-how from the book along with common sense!

Book offers advice on just about everything development and printing wise and beyond, into tinting, toning and hand touching. Its a very very useful resource and far more than any random collection of U-Tube tuts.... Get, read digest... apply!
 
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