Show Us Your Darkroom #6: Robert James Elliott

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This is my fifth darkroom, over 40 years as a professional photographer.

I thought all this was past me, but the urge to do something different instead of pressing the shutter on a digital camera was always niggling me, to the point of building another darkroom and shooting with film again.

My thoughts were to have a room that was light tight, with enough room to feel comfortable and fit all my toys in.

The choice was made to construct this in an existing shed.

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The frame and wall cladding went together in a week, I made a couple of benches and my darkroom sink was ordered from an engineering place down the road.

The size of the darkroom is approx 9 ft x 11 ft and the sink is 2.5 ft wide by 6.5 ft long, big enough to fit three 20″x24″ trays.

As I said, there are several benches all pretty much standard apart from an almost square work bench (3ft x 4 ft )which I mainly use for Alternative Photographic Processes (APP).

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I have an exposure box, which I made myself with the help of some plans from Peter McDonald and guidance on wiring from Shane Booth.

The exposure box has 12 black flouros, an exhaust fan, with the printing frame (exposure area 12 in x 15 in) sitting on top, face down for exposure to the lights on the bottom.

Cold water and electricity were added shortly after the darkroom was finished, which made it very workable.

All my 4×5 film processing is done in trays and any 35mm done in a tank.

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I have a very large set of draws, not too dissimilar to the old dentist’s draws, in which I keep all my chemicals, jars and containers for APP.

There are two englargers, an LPL c7700 and a De Vere 504.

In one corner on top of a bench, there is a small fridge, not plugged into electricity, which I use to keep my pre-coated light sensitive glass plates, after they have been poured.

One large safelight is at one end of the darkroom and two others, an amber and red, hang over the processing sink.

I do not run water down the sink or pour chemicals, they are poured into buckets and used in the garden, have not lost a flower or shrub yet.

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There is a large fridge just outside the darkroom which keeps beer and cold water, the latter needed in the summer months, to process glass plate negatives.

Guide to images:

  1. UV exposure light box for the salt printing process and two enlargers, an LPL c7700 and De Vere 504.
  2. Darkroom sink with bench underneath and shelf above for odds and ends.
  3. Picture shows the corner of the sink, the table for the Alternative Photographic Processes (APP) with a shelf above and shelving below.
  4.  Set of drawers, not dissimilar to what you might have seen at a dentist’s surgery years ago, which keeps chemicals, jars, bottles and brushes.
  5. Part of the APP bench, small fridge for keeping coated glass plates ready for exposing, and exposure box for UV light, used in my salt printing.