Show Us Your Darkroom #12: Alastair Moore
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.
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.
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.
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…