I've been messing about with an iPhone app that makes it easy to plan room layouts. The house it looks like we'll be moving to has a tightish double garage that I'll have to convert into a darkroom. One half will house the Saab and I'll have a space about 9ftx7ft for a darkroom adjacent to it.
It involves building a couple of walls, hanging a door and fitting the worktops and cupboards for storing all those darkroomy bits and pieces. At the moment, I have four enlargers - the Leitz 1C and V35, a Durst L1200 and a Paterson PCS150 - and I don't think I can justify taking them all with me even though it looks as if I might be able to make them fit with a little room to spare.
So, after a bit of faffing around, here's what I've come up with (see above). It's by no means cast in stone and I've already noticed one flaw - there's no space between the enlargers for timers, transformers, etc. Forgot about that! It could easily be cured by removing the 10x8 trays from the bench and putting the 1C there. It's quite a compact enlarger with a small footprint.
Although I've named the enlargers in the graphic above I've yet to decide which ones to keep and which to sell on. I've written about the dilemma here. One thing that is becoming increasingly clear, though, is that I don't think I'm going to make a large format photographer so the Durst could be on borrowed time. LF is just not clicking. There seems something virtuous in using 5x4 or larger - in some respects, it's "real" photography in a way 35mm isn't - but I'm not taking to it too well.
It's not the process of using a large format camera, although it takes a little getting used to, nor the issue of composing upside down under a dark cloth. I haven't found either to be much of an impediment to be honest. Finding the love for the whole big neg thing is what's missing.
I haven't really warmed to the idea of setting up and taking down the camera without exposing any film just because the scene didn't look the way I imagined it might on the ground glass. This happens not infrequently and uses up a lot of time. Some days I'll see the best shot quite quickly in which case large format is fine. But on others it might take me a few frames to work out the most pleasing composition or viewpoint - not a problem with 35mm or 6x6 but a bit expensive and time-consuming with sheet film.
It happens too often that I'll be passing a scene and wonder if there might be a photograph there only to keep moving because the thought of stopping, setting up the camera, etc and then realising there isn't puts me off.
The weight is an issue as well. I gave up using the old Mamiya Press outfit I had because I got fed up lugging it around and the Speed Graphic or Kodak Specialist II is the same thing but on steroids. I appreciate that if you want a big neg then it comes with the territory but that doesn't make it any less of a burden.
Then there's developing a single sheet - or maybe a few - at a time. The Mod 54 gadget for using with Paterson developing tanks can enable the photographer to develop six sheets in one go but, failing that, you're really back to tray developing - and what a pain that is! I've got a few sheets of 5x4 that have been sitting in their dark slides for several months awaiting development. I just can't be bothered! (note to self: get the bloody finger out!)
All these complaints are familiar territory for me. I've been here before on a few occasions which is why I've bought, then sold, then bought, sold and bought again the same or similar large format cameras. When I don't have one I think how nice it would be producing big negatives and making technically lovely prints. When I buy one I can never seem to fire up the necessary enthusiasm for some extended use. I normal shoot a few sheets then sort of fall away from it.
I'm tempted to off-load the Speed Graphic and Kodak Specialist, especially with the house move just over five weeks away, but I'm concerned that I'll miss them again and then the search will start to find a replacement.
I've reached a bit of a compromise with myself: I'm going to shoot some 5x7 negatives in the big Kodak and contact print them. If they don't blow my socks off in some way then that'll be it. Sadly, that would mean off-loading the big Durst. Since it's not something that's easy to wrap up and post, I'd probably find it easier to strip it of everything marketable and then ditch the chassis. What a waste - but what's the alternative? If I broke it up it would also fetch around twice what I'd be likely to get if I managed to find a local buyer for it.
There is an answer to all of this and it comes in the shape of the 35mm to 6x9 Leitz IIC. That would comfortably handle both my 35mm and 6x6 negs. I keep searching locally but to no avail so far. What are the chances?