Number Six – the BIG darkroom

After living in our house for 18 years, (darkroom #5) we sold it and bought a big place in the suburbs, almost semi-rural. Space allowed me to build a much bigger darkroom than I would have ever considered. It was 12 x 18 feet, had two sinks, two 4×5 enlargers, and lots of space. I blogged the construction of this darkroom. http://newdr.blogspot.com  

Just as we built the “Art Dept.” at the prior house, this particular house was chosen because it had a room that was perfect for my wife’s painting studio. It also had an attic space above a detached garage/workshop that I could transform into a darkroom, but not without work. The roof is pitched at 45 degrees. The footprint of the garage is 18 x 22 feet. Because of the pitch of the roof, the attic is very tall.

Two knee walls narrow the useful area to about 12 x 22, and with the stairwell taken out of that, the darkroom ends up being about 12 x 18, or 216 square feet. The previous owner (or builder) had started finishing the space, but never completed the job. (see the photo above.) It’s all in the blog.

Rather than partitioning off a separate work area, I used the whole space for the darkroom because I anticipated doing workshops. As it turned out, I only did one with a group.  But, I did do some one-on-one coaching, and it was nice to not be crowded, even with only one other person.

The window was covered and light-proofed.  Water was brought in from a nearby outside faucet.  I ran pipes for both hot and cold, intending to install a small water heater later.  I never did install the heater.  The drain was a very similar solution the prior darkroom, except that in place of the stock tank, the water was collected into two 55-gallon barrels. (One was not enough, it overflowed, so a 2nd was added.)

Once, a thread on one of the photo forums discussed “luxuries” in the darkroom. I admit to a few: I had a big stereo with four speakers, a small refrigerator, and a microwave. ( had all of this in the prior darkroom as well. The kitchen appliances are not for food, but for film storage (fridge) and water temperature adjustments (both). Some consider year-round heating and cooling a luxury, but here in Texas, not having such would make an attic almost impossible to tolerate most of the time.

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I have a good bit of equipment, mostly because with patience it could be had for relatively little or no money. I can’t think of anything substantial that I bought at full price except the 8’ sink (see darkroom 5), the print washer and the RH Designs enlarger timer (worth every penny!). Just prior to building this darkroom, I purchased the entire darkroom of a pro “going digital”. This included a Beseler 4×5 enlarger, and a 4′ sink, and numerous other things (timers, trays, tanks, etc.). Later, the 4′ sink was replaced with a 6′ that was free! Somewhere along the way, another Beseler was acquired and the Omegas were all sold. It was a nice place to work. Who could ask for more?