Thursday, January 05, 2006

My Darkroom - The Early Days

Within a year of purchasing this house back in 1967 I'd constructed my "ideal darkroom" with a fiberglass over plywood sink large enough to handle 16x20 trays and a dry side counter that could hold my Omega B-22XL and Kodak Precision 6.5x9cm enlargers with room to spare. A cork bulletin board over the counter is still used for tacking up print orders and time/temperature charts for developing film. There was about a ten year period when my friend Al Olme shared the darkroom with me. I packed up the Kodak enlarger for the duration, replaced with Al's D-2V-XL and we put his B-22XL next to mine. It was so convenient to be all set up for 4x5, 6x6 and 35mm at the same time. No lenses to swap!

I went through a brief period of doing pictures printed up from 2 or 3 different negatives a la Jerry Uelsmann. I'd visited him once in Gainesville with my friend Bob Greger who was trying to start a photography gallery at the time. Jerry took us into his darkroom and showed us some of the techniques that he used for combining several images into one print. I also bought a three of Jerry's prints for $25 each.

Today my darkroom has a newer air conditioner, a lot more shelves all full of 45 years worth of negatives and contact sheets, and a washing machine. Why not? It drains into the sink, and the top is used as extra counter space for my paper cutter. I've added a film dryer. The Kodak Precision still sits next to the B-22XL, one set up for 120 film, the other for 35mm. I really should get a new sound system. I used to have a cassette deck and speakers at one time. A decent radio would do as well. I can get all my favorite songs on FM radio, all the 60's classics, because the younger folks are back into classic rock, the same stuff that blasted out of those speakers 35 years ago over the drone of air conditioner and the sound of water gurgling in the print washer.


Blogger WeeDram said...

Al: This brings back a lot of memories. I built a similar darkroom in the late 70s when I rented an apartment in an old house. There was a large coal room, of all things, in the basement that the landlord let me use. Getting all the coal dust and dirt out of there was quite a task. After days of scrubbing I finished up with hydrochloric acid to etch the floor clean; I almost killed myself I think!

I used a Beseler 45MX enlarger. Since it had a head that could be used horizontally, built a hanging easel for doing 30x40 prints.

WeeDram aka Trius on RFF

6:16 PM  
Blogger taffer said...

Impressive darkroom indeed, no doubt it could be the ideal one for many of us, I would even find it ideal with 1/4 of the room, lol!
I'm lucky enough to have a completely dark bathroom, at night and will all lights at home turned off...

5:22 PM  

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