Wednesday, 1 August 2012

How To: Light-Proof a Darkroom on a Budget

  I haven’t posted in a long time – i have been spending the last month or so setting up my darkroom and working through my backlog of negatives that i want printing.  I do plan on shooting some film again soon but at the moment i can’t seem to tear myself away from the enlarger.  Im sure ill scan my prints soon and make a blog about them.

  Anyway, to the point!  Im not the richest man in the world at the moment as my wife is currently off work sick, so were on a reduced income.  The only way i got my darkroom kit was because i sold some of my old music equipment that i wasn’t using anymore and the seller only wanted a very small amount for it (it was a ridiculous bargain considering all the gear i got).  Anyway, after buying my darkroom kit i needed a simple, low-cost way of light-proofing the spare room so i could print without worrying about fogging the paper.  I should say that my spare room consists of one door and one tall window so it wasn’t too big a project.

  I spent a few hours online (in work time, obviously) looking for solutions which others had found.  Now there’s a lot of information online about light-proofing – some people suggesting draught excluders, felt, and even dedicated blackout material.  I didn’t feel that any of these solutions were for me though as i live in a rented house and i didn’t want to do any nailing or screwing.

  In the end i hit upon a solution that has worked really well for me so far and cost £3 to setup.  If you go to B&Q or any other DIY type store you can pick up these rubble sacks:

I remember using them a few years ago for some garden work i was doing.  They’re thick, and most importantly black.  I bought a bag of 10 and then all i needed to do was head home and gaffer tape the bags over my window.  There was still some light soaking through even though the window was covered so i taped another layer of bags over to create a double layer.  At this point you need to make sure that there’s no light leaking through from your gaffer tape - make sure you press it down firmly onto your wall.  I decided to keep the curtain over the window as an extra layer of defence.
  There wasn’t much light coming in through the door but it definitely needed protecting.  I remembered i still had a box of curtains that were left in the house by the previous tenants when we moved in so i dug one out.  All along the top of the curtain were hoops for the curtain rail to go through.  I hammered a tack into the top-left and top-right of the door frame and hung the curtain on them using the hoops.  Although some light still seeps through its fine as i ran some tests and my paper hasn’t fogged at all.

  So there you have it – a simple, removable and cheap way to light-proof a room.  I just thought i would post this in case anyone was having similar difficulties to me in getting setup.  As always if you have any questions just contact me on the blog.  Happy printing!