In these digital times, most photographers have migrated away from the traditional wet darkroom process, in favor of the DSLR and the inkjet printer. However, if you have ever watched a silver-gelatin print developing in a darkroom tray, you will probably never forget the feeling of watching an image bloom on a blank piece of paper right before your eyes. It requires a room and a considerable amount of equipment, but there is nothing quite like the traditional process of printing photographs. If you decide to take this retro-technological path in pursuit of your art—or if you just want to develop a fascinating and satisfying hobby—read on. We’ll explain some of the basics of darkroom printing and the equipment you will need to set up a functional darkroom.
Setting up a darkroom is like setting up a den—it can be as simple or as fancy as you want. You're probably going to spend a lot of time in there, so you might as well make it functional and comfortable. What is most important is that your room be designed with an emphasis on efficiency. It should maximize your space, be comfortable and logical ergonomically and be supported with proper and reliable equipment. You don’t want to make a trip across the room every time you move a print from your dry side (where the enlarger sits) to your wet side for developing.
Working in the darkroom is fun. It's where your images come to life before your eyes. When your space is properly laid out, working there becomes much more pleasurable. This section of B&H InDepth will provide you with an outline of some of the items you should consider when setting up your workspace. In addition to your enlarger and lens, there is other equipment you will need to make your darkroom an efficient working environment.