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 Post subject: dammit also
PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 7:15 pm 
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Das Kapital
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Nothing related to E6 but rather the struggles of getting my own darkroom set up and running.

First: It's in the dustiest and hottest place in the house under the stairs next to the water heaters. Everything has been sitting idle for the last few months in there and now that I'm trying to make the room functional I've got a layer of dust on everything. Luckily I covered all the important bits but it still doesn't bode well for printing.

Second: no power outlet. Have to run an extension under the door.

Third: I'm resorting to using up my $60 worth of specialty rubberized black cloth that I had bought for finishing my 8x10 bellows to seal off the doorway. There are cheaper options but I'm too broke to go out and buy them, so I'm making do with what I've already got. Ugh.

Fourth: How the hell do I hang my black cloth curtain without any appropriate hardware? I found a sewing needle and thread; I hope I can rig up some loops to hang it from.

Finally: No water. I'm going to bring small trays in there for test strips and do my prints in daylight-safe drums. Seems the easiest way without having to also blackout my bathroom everytime I want to print. Lith printing is a bridge I'll cross later.

As if darkroom printing wasn't enough hassle already with the proper equipment. Yeesh.

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 Post subject: Re: dammit also
PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 8:33 pm 
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Das Kapital
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Okay, it's coming together.. not so bad. The dust and lack of running water sucks, but we can't always have what we want.

Image

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That's my 8x10 bellows hanging on the wall; sigh. Will I ever finish it?
Image

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All in all reasonably functional given my limitations.

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 Post subject: Re: dammit also
PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 8:38 pm 
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Das Kapital
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I wonder if I could paint the walls (black!) to help bring down the dust levels a bit. Lots of exposed drywall and edges in here.

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 Post subject: Re: dammit also
PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 12:43 am 
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Looks good.

I'm getting my Jobo within the next few weeks, though I won't have much to develop. That will mean that I can even do B&W printing and 8x10 B&W developing without sloshing chemicals everywhere.

I'll probably start using the Duke darkroom to do lith printing on my weeks off. I do a half day clinic twice a month so I can spend half days in the darkroom there. Lith printing is what I miss most -- I was just starting to get taken by it when I moved, and I haven't done a thing other than cyanotypes for the last year and a half now.

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 Post subject: Re: dammit also
PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 1:14 am 
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My guess is that you're seeing all that dust because it's very dry in there- no humidity because of the heater. You might consider getting a pot of water boiling in there several hours in advance of working. Is there anywhere on the heater that you can set a pot of water or something?

Another thing you might do is put up wall paper. Just cover everything with wall paper- you can get black even.

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 Post subject: Re: dammit also
PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 1:47 am 
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You want to paint the walls black to keep your contrast levels high, not to control the dust. When the walls are white and you are exposing your paper, the light will reflect off of the paper and onto the white walls. It will then reflect onto the paper again--and will partially expose those areas that are supposed be be receiving less light. This will reduce your contrast and upping the contrast level of the paper will not satisfactorily correct that.

You can control the dust, and here's how:

1. Never (Never) use an exhaust fan in a darkroom. It will create a negative atmospheric pressure and suck in all manner of dust.

Instead, set your ventilation up like a clean room is set up. Create a positive atmospheric pressure in the room by having incoming air that is filtered. I did this in my darkroom by making a light trap that had a 20" square opening. I put a high quality furnace filter over the opening and a 20" box fan force feeds air through the filter and into the darkroom. 3M makes some high end filters (less than $20.00), and these work way better than the $2.00 fiberglass ones. The filtered air pressurizes the room and dust if forced out. You need to provide exhaust light traps for the air to flow out of, and some planning is needed to assure that the entire room is ventilated. If you use this scheme you can have a dust-free darkroom in a dusty basement. (A real door for the opening is a real plus. Hollow core doors are really cheap at Home Depot.

2. Never turn on a vacuum cleaner inside your darkroom. It will kick up way too much dust. I drilled a 2" diameter hole through the wall which made a perfect fit for the industrial type vacuum that I use in the basement. I screwed the helical hose through the hole and I have the vacuum outside the darkroom and the hose inside. I turn on the ventilation fan before turning on the vacuum so I don't create a negative atmosphere.

3. Always turn on the intake fan before opening the door to the darkroom. This will assure you that the dust will not migrate into the room.

4. Wipe surfaces with a damp rag to remove dust. You will find that if you have a good seal (a proper door) that almost no dust will settle on the surfaces.

So, paint your room matte black, buy furnace filter and box fan, and you are all set.

If you need photos of the installation, let me know and I'll go down to the basement and shoot some.

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 Post subject: Re: dammit also
PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 2:54 am 
Walter, I think you have a fine work area. I have no permanent running water in my "dark areas". Normally several gallons of tap water in milk jugs and a little red bucket to drain the drums works just fine. Most everything I do can be accomplished with drums, and I never do open tray processing, fixing, or toning indoors. In the garage where I did set up several new sinks and occasionally do tray processing, I bring in a hose with a quick-connect from outside and temporarily connect it to the sinks. In fact that whole sink affair was overkill and a waste of perfectly good money. As far as killing dust, Packard's Positive Pressurization Plan sounds like it would be the ticket for a small room. I tiled the floors of my entire house which did a number on the dust.


Last edited by X. Phot. on Mon Nov 24, 2008 11:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: dammit also
PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 3:14 am 
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Das Kapital
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Thanks for the suggestions and stuff guys. The dust issue here can't be understated - there's a raggedy fibre-board covering one side of the stairway, broken-edged drywall everywhere, plaster smeared here and there, an open part of the ceiling above the water heaters where there's fibreglass just kind of hanging out, etc... ugh. Nightmare.

I'll see how bad it is while printing; maybe I can keep the important parts dust-free. I'm pretty anal while working and in treatment of my negatives, etc, so I might be able to manage.

Otherwise I'll be off looking for covering materials for the walls.

Keep in mind I'm renting here so renovations aren't exactly in the works.

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 Post subject: Re: dammit also
PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 8:52 pm 
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Das Kapital
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It works! I made two successful 11x14 fiber prints today. I have only two minor changes to make the workflow easier: one extra safelight for the bathroom and one extra dark curtain for the bathroom. As is, I was carting them both back and forth between my two working areas (even for test strips). Hassle.

Otherwise it was almost as good as working in the real darkroom I had before.

I set up my trays on a long shelf propped between the sink and a storage tower shelf thingy. The bathroom has two lights (shower and overhead) on separate switches, so I just stuck the redlight into the overhead bulb socket. Nice to just flip switches to go bright or red.

I also need to pick up a squeegee - I'm drying fiber right now by hanging it back to back and clipped at the corners (actually works pretty good because the curvatures oppose one another and they end up straight) but I do have one of those stretchy-canvas print driers.

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 Post subject: Re: dammit also
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 1:29 am 
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Das Kapital
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Hah, found this old photo the landlord took (in the advertisement for the place). The cat litter is probably another source of the lovely dust problem (and saturated with urine & feces!):

Image

Compare with today:
Image

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 Post subject: Re: dammit also
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 9:47 am 
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Lowes and Home Depot sell "Pre-hung" hollow core doors. If you can find one the right size, then that would be a good way to close off the area.

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