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How To Set Up A Darkroom

As creative and enjoyable as it can be to take photos using digital media, there’s a huge amount to be said for traditional film processing – and it’s a brilliant way of cementing your knowledge and testing your skills when it comes to photography.


Of course, part of the process requires a dark room and if you know you’re going to be processing your own negatives and making your own prints a lot, it could be more efficient – and a lot more fun! – to set up your own darkroom somewhere.


What you’ll need

The equipment is the most important part of creating any good darkroom, rather than location. To get started, you’ll need a leakproof developing tank, developing chemicals, developing trays, a film changing bag, a film enlarger, a timer and safelights, which are red light bulbs used in darkrooms that are safe to use around light-sensitive photo paper.


These are the barest of essentials and you may find yourself investing in more kit over time, but this is what you’ll definitely need in order to get going. The good news is that, with people increasingly moving towards digital photography, you may find yourself able to bag a bargain or two.


Choose a location

Once you’ve got your equipment sorted, you can find the right location. Your darkroom will need to be light-proof and have access to running water, as well as a ventilator to help circulate the air and remove any lingering chemical smells.


How to light-proof the space

Because film is so sensitive to light, you can easily ruin your film with just a second’s exposure to light, so you need to make sure the space is completely light-proof, including any gaps in the doors and window frames.


Black duct tape can be used to sort out any gaps, as well as covering the windows with black poster boards and taping them to seal the sill. When you think you’re finished, turn off all the lights and assess the darkness, carrying out further duct tape work as required.


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