How to make a darkroom for photography

You’ve become adept enough at photography to want to develop and print your own pictures. Before you invest in the equipment, try working in a darkroom with someone knowledgeable; a local camera club or an adult education course may be your best source. Work first with black and white film; try color later.

Basic darkroom necessities are an absence of external light, a source of electricity, and hot and cold running water. If you don’t have a permanent site for your darkroom, use a darkened kitchen or bathroom. Cover countertops with heavy plastic sheeting or use sturdy folding tables with plastic laminate surfaces.

To exclude light, cover the windows with curtains of black felt or sheets of plywood. Block light leaks with black photographic masking tape. Maintain room temperature around 68F so that chemical solutions will work effectively; 70F to 75F is recommended for color work. Ideal humidity for both is roughly 50 percent. Arranging the equipment Place the equipment in the order shown; this will make your work flow smoothly. Have a wet side for processing film and prints and a dry side for exposing and print finishing. The print washer should sit in the sink. The enlarger, the heaviest piece of equipment, must be well supported on a stable surface.

Caution: Fumes from some processing chemicals can be dangerous. For this reason, a darkroom needs a fresh-air source and an exhaust fan. If you have allergies, wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from chemical solutions.