The Online Darkroom Store

Wednesday, August 10

Build That Wall!

It's been a funny old world at the home of The Online Darkroom this year. You'll obviously have noticed the dearth of posts. Well, it's been matched by a similar dearth in picture taking. I blame it all on our house move in November last year.

For several months before the move I'd been doing less photography and blog posting than normal, mainly because of the work involved in getting our old house looking its best before putting it on sale. The actual move was a lot more disruptive than I'd anticipated. My get-up-and-go, marginal at the best of times, went walkabout, got lost and apparently couldn't find its way back to our new home.

I sort of lost all interest in photography preferring instead to sit around on my fat arse reading political stuff on the iPad. "Creative work" was limited to DIY and painting and decorating. It didn't help that I had no darkroom up and running nor even a computer for scanning purposes. I think I managed to expose two 35mm rolls over about seven months - which I've yet to develop. There were a few false dawns when I thought I was getting the old image-making urge back again but to no avail.

This has, more or less, been the situation for me throughout 2016. Slowly it dawned on me that there was little point in waiting for something to happen: in the words of Captain Kirk's somewhat dodgy successor, I'd have to make it so. That's why I went online on Monday and ordered the timber and plasterboard for the partition wall I need to build to create a darkroom. The supplies should arrive tomorrow and I'll get cracking as soon as possible. Once the wall has been built I'm hoping my enthusiasm will start to return.

For some strange reason, Wickes couldn't deliver the two 3m lengths I need until next week (no problem delivering the 2.4m lengths or plasterboard this week) so I picked them up in the old Saab this morning instead. I was able to select good straight lengths which was just as well as most of the others could have been used to make hockey sticks with very little work. Many were twisted in three dimensions. Does the amount of time I had to spend sorting through them count as a fourth dimensional twist? Choice Canadian kiln-dried lumber my bottom: they were like off-cuts from the Corkscrew Hazel section of the local tree nursery.

I also bought some 35mm and 120 Tmax 400, the film I've decided to use to the exclusion of everything else apart from large format materials, to gee myself up a bit. I even sent the Rolleiflex SL66E off to have the tiny piece of metal lodged by the shutter curtains and rendering it useless removed so it's functional now. The Leica and associated lenses remain in need of a good service, though. With the intention of flogging off my two Billingham bags and a couple of other makes I no longer use, I picked up a Domke F-802 on Ebay only to find it has no inserts but it should be easy enough to sort something out there. The Billinghams are lovely but a pain in the neck to use.

So that's where I'm at. Hopefully, I'll start building the wall this week and begin the process of fitting it out next week. I've decided to add a sink - a first for a Robbins darkroom - so the services of a plumber will be required. It's not going to be the largest darkroom ever at about 9x5.5 feet but I'm hoping it will be very usable. I wouldn't say having the use of a darkroom is imminent but it's at least in the foreseeable future.

Oh, and I almost forgot. TRUMP 2016!


DougH said...

I've been in the doldrums for several months. Darkroom was disassembled with the expectation that we'd be moving by end of year. But, after getting depressed with a visit to Michigan, decided to stay in Florida for now. So, had a contractor install wall plus door in part of the garage. Have heat/AC in the new space. Hopefully, this will trigger my interests in both shooting and printing.

Michael Carberry said...

Glad to see your return. Was about to give up on ya.

Aubrey Silvertooth said...

Welcome back!! It is good to hear you are getting back into the swing of chasing light around the UK. I can say I feel you lack of motivation pain. I am a public school teacher in Texas and the summer off has been between 97-101 degrees for most of the summer. The heat index has thrown most days to "feel like" it is 107-110 degrees. Too miserable to walk around with a camera. Of course the break in the heat wave is due next week, when I go back to the school! Oh well, that is what the weekends are for! Good luck with the darkroom construction and return to photography and blogging!


Hi Bruce

Great to hear from you. Good luck with the build,


Eric Rollo said...

I sympathise entirely I think DIY is an alien force that feeds on creative thoughts our house needs a full makeover ... according to the wife and my darkroom became a shed for storage and my urge to go out and photograph is on a shelf at the back where I can't reach at the moment.
You've given me hope my mojo will return hopefully before the weather gets too rubbish for decent shots

marty said...

It's nice to see you back, Bruce. I'm glad to hear you're starting to build your new darkroom and I'me sure this will get you new photographic stimulus and inspiration.

Cheers, M.

Steve Weston said...

Hi Bruce

Nice to see you back. I totally understand your loss of mojo. I to went through the same thing. Like Eric my darkroom became a store room and I was quiet happy to sit on my backside and wait for some form of inspiration. I do still struggle a bit but it is getting better. good luck with the build. Perhaps you could post up your progress?

tjen dezutter said...

Super to hear from you even after a Brexit ! Hopely we -users of the darkroom site -won't loose you in the stones and materials for building up a new room .
There is always a solution hanging somewhere in the air .The art is to catch this bloody thing when it comes down to earth !


Paul Blanchard said...

Welcome Back-it happens to us all,I took 10 x 35mm rolls in two weeks in May and they still want(selectively) printing!/Paul

David M said...

At last!
Welcome to my screen again.

DcAnalogue said...

Welcome back Bruce.... we missed you this year and it's nice to hear from you again!
Me too am going to build a sort of darkroom (first time for me) for silver printing and some other old techniques.... but it will last until the end of september.. so, hope you'll finish yours before and see some pictures soon... ;-)

Btw... how did you worked without a sink until now? Can you share some I've some problem to get current water in my darkroom?

Bruce Robbins said...

Hi Donato,

My usual "workflow" was to develop film at the kitchen sink and transfer prints from the darkroom to the bathroom in a big print tray. I then washed them in the bath in a Paterson washing tray. It works OK but slopping big trays full of water from room to room isn't much fun. It can be expensive plumbing in a darkroom but we'll probably not move from this house now so I might as well do it right.

Thanks to everyne else for your nice comments. Just waiting for the wood and plasterboard to arrive - should be any minute now.

DcAnalogue said...

Thanks Bruce....!
Think I'll do the same (already develop my film in the bathroom) 'cause the Darkroom will be in the garden, and it would be very hard to carry tap water in.... ;-)

Anonymous said...

Welcome back. Can't wait until you start posting pictures again.

John Carter said...

Glad to see you are well and are back. I was in a photo slump for a few months. I think the answer to my problem was solved by one of your posts. Somehow I remember it had to do with cameras that didn't need batteries. So my advice to you is to only use the InterNet for essentials, like 'The Online Darkroom.' And go shoot.

Ksb said...

Ah, yes, slumps. For me they happen when I start thinking "should" instead of just being motivated by fun and passion. I "should" get out and shoot more. I "should" scan more of my negs. The shoulds stack up into an oppressive to-do list instead of letting my natural interest guide me. What was once fun is now a chore. I have learned to break out of it, but it still happens all the time.

Roger B. said...

Glad to see you are back.

I've been in the doldrums myself for quite a while, but I'm just coming out of it. There's been a lot of photos I've taken where I don't care much about the subject, and so I don't care about the photos. They just don't get processed.

Last weekend I spent a weekend with my brother and his family, and at museums and in Stratford On Avon I took photos of the family, and got them to take photos of me. The important stuff. I plan to be doing more posed portraits, and far fewer pictures of things in the future.

Nasir said...

Politics is enough to put anyone's creative drive to bed. ZZZzzzzz. Welcome back.

Herman Sheephouse said...

Hi Bruce - got so used to us emailing each other that I forgot to look here. Interesting to see doldrums seem to affect a lot of people - I know all about it. The answer . . buy another camera! Nah not really. Good to see you back and posting and goodluck with the build!

David M said...

Perhaps a snap of The Wall?

Pete R said...

Hi Bruce,
Guess I'm one of those anonymous readers that call by your blog from time to time to enjoy a little analogue goodness. I totally understand your doldrums, pursuing real photography takes a real effort so fair play for keeping this going. Hope the wall passes by both structurally and metaphorically and look forward to more well written words of wisdom in the future. Take it easy, Pete