What if I don’t build a darkroom?

March 13, 2019 ☼ photography | #

I used to have a darkroom. It wasn’t fancy, but it had a giant sink with running water, a fine selection of enlargers, and enough doo-dads around that I could process and print just about any kind of negative.

A few months ago, I moved to a new house. The new house doesn’t have a darkroom. There is an extra room in the basement that I’d earmarked for use as a darkroom, ignoring the fact that there is no way to get running water to it.

The room was stuffed full of crap I wanted to get rid of, and last week I got rid of all of it. Nothing stopping me now!

Except now I’m thinking I’ll be just fine without a dedicated darkroom. What if, instead of taking up all that space for enlargers, chemicals, and trays, I set up a nice digital printing station? I could get a big, fancy printer and load it up with dedicated black-and-white ink sets. Or I could buy some expensive RIPs and finally calibrate my monitor for color1. I might even dust off the matte cutter I bought years ago and only used once.

So I’m thinking about how I might be able to make a decent silver gelatin print once in a while even without a darkroom.

One option would be to keep the little Focomat V35. It’s compact and a nice piece of gear. Only does 35mm, but I could store it easily and haul it out occasionally.

The other option would be to limit myself to 4x5 or 8x10 negatives and make contact prints in the bathroom. Just need a flat surface and a light bulb for that.

Some day I’d like to have a custom, fully-featured darkroom with all the fixin’s, but until that happens I may have to make do without.


  1. Nope, I’m not doing that. I hate printing color.