The Online Darkroom Store

Saturday, August 19

Don't adjust your TV sets, etc

Semi-decorative iPhone pic

Normal service has been missing on the blog for more than a month but I'm hoping to get back on track again next week. I won't bore you with all the details but, as usual, living got in the way of blogging although whether or not I'd include DIY, decorating, etc, in the "living" category is debatable.

By normal service next week, I mean proper normal service. The kind that actually has some prints to show rather than scans. Yes, I've finally got a functioning darkroom. It's taken forever but I'm there. This is really the second darkroom I've built since moving here about 20 months ago but I never managed to print anything in the first as our plans for the new house changed a couple of times and Darkroom 1 became a walk-in wardrobe.

Darkroom 2, which began life as our daughter's bedroom, is a little under half of the old floor space, about 10x10.5 feet. I'm sure when we divided the bedroom that Cath had something frilly in mind for the part that wasn't going to be a bedroom but it's hard to keep an alpha male down and I'm pleased to say that it's now - or, at least, is becoming - a man cave. With Cath's blessing, of course.

I've got my books out of storage and filling the shelves of a few bookcases we picked up at Ikea. I'll get my hi-fi gear set up in due course, there's a treadmill in one corner and a comfy reclining chair complete with over-the-shoulder light for reading in another. I've even picked up a few more books in recent weeks - the latest being Don McCullin's Open Skies - in anticipation of some quiet time with my feet up, a cup of coffee and some great photographs to study close-up.

And I'm writing this on a desktop PC on a big desk in yet another corner, the first proper computer I've had since giving my iMac to Freya a few years ago. It took quite a bit of fiddling to get everything working smoothly but it's now zipping along very nicely indeed.

And now to the darkroom. I've written a little about it in some previous posts but for those of you who can't remember or didn't see them, then it's got four enlargers in it at present - the Durst L1200 for everything up to 5x4, a Paterson PCS150 for medium format and the Leitz 1c and Valoy II for 35mm and just because they're lovely to behold. For the first time, I've also got a darkroom sink and, it transpired once I'd unloaded all the boxes from the garage, a surfeit of darkroom gear so some of that will have to go.

My favourite bit of kit, though, is undoubtedly the old Leitz 10x8 enlarging easel. It's got a wooden base, a white painted surface that has aged to an off-white and big round knobs for locking and unlocking the two arms. It also has an attachment that locks it to the baseboard of the 1c to stop it being accidentally moved. I really have grown ridiculously attached to it. When I got it a while back I took great delight in taking it all apart, cleaning it thoroughly and polishing the wood with beeswax. Well, why not look after it? There really aren't many things in life that are both beautiful and efficient. As a more hip William Wallace might have put it, "You can take my freedom but you'll never take my Leitz easel!"

I'm pretty sure I have an unopened bottle of print developer in the garage so I'm good to go. There are also five or six films awaiting development and a bottle of Rollei RHS DC in the darkroom so I've no excuses for not churning out a print or several next week. Mind you, I can't promise they'll be any good but you can't always have everything.


Herman Sheephouse said...

Breath deep . . . Aaaaah . . . that's better. Let battle commence.

Tho as any fule kno, it's not a "Man-Cave" . . you heard it here first, it's a © "Indoor Shed"

There's a McCullin exhibition at Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries at the moment, if you fancy a long day out . .

Well done Bruce - I know this has been an epic task. Really looking forward to the prints, and of course, really glad you got that sink ';0)

DcAnalogue said...

Happy to see you back in the Darkroom! ;-)
Mine is a bit smaller (2,70x3,70 mt) and unfortunately is in the garden, so 2 days ago... I printed something @ 34°C after 9 P.M. !!! :-o

DavidM said...

Wing-Commander Lamm-Sheltagh is right.
Only Fotherington-Thomas would say Man Cave. Actually, he probably wouldn't. He might say Chap's Bower...
Shed is much better. Sheds are useful things, at least in principle. Without usefulness, a shed degenerates into a mere hut. A cave is nothing but a hole.
Best of luck with the enlarger-breeding experiment.

Bruce Robbins said...

There must be a few hermits (not Hermans) who would argue that a cave has an in-built degree of utility - even if it's only as a hideaway. Which, come to think of it, is not unlike a darkroom for many of us. :)

Bruce Robbins said...

Donato! 34C at night? I couldn't sleep in that let alone print. There might not be many who will agree but I think heat is over-rated. I like sweater weather - 16 C is fine for me. Now looking forward to autumn so I can do some misty landscapes.

DavidM said...

A cave is fine if you can knap flints. Here's a link:

How does D76 like 16°C?
I'm looking forward to the misty landscapes. Somehow, when I set off to capture mist, when I get there, it seems to have gone. I even got a blue filter to exaggerate the misty effect but it didn't seem to work as well as expected.
Best of luck, anyway.

Bruce Robbins said...

Well, according to Cath, I'm very good at napping so how much of a stretch can the flint thing be? I know what you mean about mist, David. Got up yesterday at 7am and it was very foggy. By the time I'd dropped Cath off at work at 8am it was gone. I've found heavy drizzle to be more reliable up here. It does a reasonable impression of mist in the middle and near distance.

MartyNL said...

Well done with the darkroom build, hopefully it will ignite (not literally) and stir your passion for printing once again!
Oh, and try to negotiate some wall space too. Prints in boxes do nothing for the creative spirit. IMHO hanging prints gives meaning to the whole process of photography and print-making. It doesn't have to be expensive or fancy just enough to give purpose and direction to you, your vision and effort.