Darkrooms are simply dark areas to develop film without exposing it to light. If you’re just getting started as a photographer then you may have just converted a small areas of your home for this purpose. Once you’ve got the space, it’s now time to find out what darkroom equipment you’re going to need.
One of the easiest ways to get hold of everything you’re going to need for your darkroom is to buy a darkroom starter kit. This will provide you with everything it takes to develop film, and can save you time. But if you’re planning on using your darkroom for a while then it may well be worth investing in high quality darkroom equipment separately.
When shopping for your darkroom equipment, the first things you’re going to need are processing tanks. When you have roll film to be developed, you place them into a reel in the dark, place it in a light-tight tank and then continue other work in the daylight as your film is protected from the light.
Stainless steel and plastic tanks are the most common: the main benefit of choosing steel tanks is that they are durable and generally last a long time. Plastic tanks are more likely to break and crack. Steel tanks are also good for temperature control, though at times the caps may be difficult to remove. It’s up to you which type of processing tank you choose.
Now you’re going to need the chemicals for processing the film. You can either choose to get the chemicals in liquid or powder form. Powders are often cheaper, but it’s important to use them in well ventilated areas to stop you breathing them in.
On top of this, you’re going to need a place to store these chemicals. They’re sensitive to light, so you should only do this using opaque containers. You’ll also find that chemicals react with oxygen in the air, eventually causing them to go bad. Some containers are designed with certain features to help avoid this problem.
The last thing you’re going to need for your darkroom is a stop bath – this lowers the pH level of the solution, to stop the process of developing the photo. You can use water to do this, but it’s not the most efficient method. Acetic acid is the most popular choice, with a pH level of around 3.
Although it might look as if there’s a lot needed for your darkroom equipment, once you’re fully set up it’ll get a lot easier. Just make sure you have a few good reference books to follow and you’ll be developing photographs in no time!
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