Join Konrad Eek for an in-depth discussion in this video Touring the darkroom space, part of Black-and-White Darkroom: Printing Techniques.
- We're gonna be filming this course in a darkroom we created for "Building a Home Darkroom." That's also available on lynda.com. It was a fun process and in it I go into a great deal of depth on everything you need in a darkroom facility. If you've not seen it, I just wanna quickly run through what you'll need to follow through and make black and white prints. Let's start off with a light-tight room with a safelight. The particular one we're using is a sodium vapor safelight. It's really overkill for a home darkroom, but it provides awfully bright illumination for us so that we're able to film while we're making the black and white prints.
You'll also probably be conscious of a background hum, and that comes from the safelight itself. The other thing we're working in is a utility room that already had an exhaust fan in it. It's really important to work in a well-ventilated space. As far as other equipment, you'll need enlarging papers. We're gonna be using Ilford paper for this course. Contrast filters as well. We have burning and dodging tools and what we need to make more precise dodging tools, if it's necessary.
I have compressed air for cleaning the negatives. We also have a grain enhancer for magnifying the grain so we can get critical focus when we're setting up our enlarger. We have a digital enlarging timer. Here at our enlarger station, we're working with a condenser enlarger and we have a variable blade easel, or adjustable blade easel, that we'll be using to hold the paper securely while we make the enlargements. Then from here we come over to our chemistry station.
Because it's kind of a small space, our chemistry is stacked on a shelf and we start with developer, stop and fix. There's lot of choices on these, and I'll get into that later. We also have a set of tongs, one for each specific tank that stay in this tank so we don't cross-contaminate. We've got a water bath for holding prints. And then we also have a battery-operated clock with a sweep hand for timing our development process, a sink with running water for washing the prints.
And right by that sink, we have a daylight balance light that we can use for inspecting our prints. So this is the physical plant we're gonna use to make the images. The one thing I would suggest to you when you're working in a darkroom, an apron is a really good idea. The developer particularly will stain clothing. I also have glasses on. I would recommend some kind of eye protection because none of these chemicals are very good for your eyes. You don't wanna get a little splash. And I've noticed as we've been working in here that sometimes the paper catches and a little chemistry will spray, so you wanna protect yourself from that.
There's a lot more information about the hazards associated with the chemistry if you look at the manufacturer's website, but don't be too concerned. Nothing here is profoundly toxic. You just want to take good care and then you'll be able to enjoy the process of making black and white prints.
First Konrad provides a tour of his own darkroom space, and introduces the key ingredients that dictate how pictures print: paper, exposure, and contrast. He checks a series of images by developing initial test prints, and then explores options for refining the images in the darkroom via cropping, burning and dodging, and adjustments to the development time. When he's finished making prints, Konrad shows how to clean up the darkroom and introduces different paper choices and resources for black-and-white film photographers to explore.