Show Us Your Darkroom #12: Alastair Moore

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I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions about my digital workflow which has been the sole method I’ve managed to get my images out of my apartment and into the wider world. I started large format photography with the main intention of getting away from a computer, as shooting digital felt much like a busman’s holiday (I’m a web developer by trade).

And while a chunk of the process did indeed get me away from the computer, to produce a final image was very much office based – I would scan negatives on my Epson flatbed scanner, make the necessary adjustments in Lightroom and then the final print was a digital print using a large format Epson printer.

Today, I can proudly say that is no longer my workflow! I am now officially a darkroom printer.

I have been almost exclusively shooting 8×10 negatives for the past year as I realised that the likelihood of having my own dedicated darkroom any time in the near future was slim and many a photographer has gushed about the beauty of an 8×10 contact print. My pop-up darkroom has given me the opportunity to realise those 8×10 contact prints and beautiful and sharp they are too.

It has taken a little while to get to this stage and a little bit of creativity but I have a modest – very, very modest compared with previous “Show Us Your Darkrooms” – but functional pop-up darkroom. By day, my bathroom plays out its duty as a bathroom but by evening it’s my 8×10 contact-printing refuge.

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My darkroom equipment consists of an LPL 3301D 35mm enlarger, that is precariously balanced on an Esky, which suffices purely as a controllable light source. This is plugged into an Ilford DT600 timer – a wonderful piece of equipment I picked up from eBay a year or so ago knowing eventually I would have a darkroom of some description. It harks back to days gone by of punched cards. Literally. It came with a card puncher and blank punched cards to store timing data that you can program into the timer. I use a sheet of 5mm glass to hold down the negative on top of the photographic paper.

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To complete the outfit, I purchased an office stacked tray affair which I use for chemicals. I was unable to fine a three tray unit and so the stop bath sits in a tray of its own. The stacked trays saves considerable room that would normally be needed for a line of trays and it has been working very well. Developer in the top tray, fixer in the bottom, stop bath off to the side.

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It takes less than 10 minutes for me to get the darkroom prepped to print and so not a chore in the slightest. Of course, given the opportunity for a larger dedicated space, I’d jump at it. For the time being it’s all I have but, most importantly, it works.

As I say, a modest set up which has been working very well for me and giving me a great opportunity to start honing my skills as a printer in a very limited environment. I foresee my Epson scanner starting to gather dust…

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