so, as many of you might know, i’ve been shooting a lot of film lately. and while scanning the negatives, sharing the results on-line, and making some high-quality inkjet prints is great way to get feedback on my work, that wasn’t the ultimate goal. ideally, the negatives should be printed in a traditional darkroom using silver gelatin papers. the thing is though, i have a very nice enlarger, ample room in my basement. the only thing that really holds me back is my incredible knack for clutter in my daily life.
this area of the basement is somewhat small, but larger than most people’s closet darkrooms. with its access to a sink next to the clothes washer, it means that i don’t have to pay a plumber to come in and charge me a gazillion dollars to install a new sink. the only problem, of course, is all this crap laying around. in this clutter there are scraps of wood tacking strips from when i pulled the carpet up 2 years ago to reveal the lovely hardwood floors on which i’ve been know to shoot a nude once or twice. there were random tools and tool boxes, laundry detergent, product boxes, plywood pieces from a disassembled entertainment center (holy cow, i hated that thing!).
when i woke up this morning i decided it all had to go. it didn’t take long to really get things going. it wasn’t the greenest thing i’ve ever done, but let’s say its going to be an epic trash night this week! i threw out bubble wrap, packaging cushions, there’s tons of corrugated cardboard being recycled, lots of product boxes (really, why was i saving the box for a shredder that i bought 5 years ago?!?). i cut up the larger boxes and saved the sheets of cardboard for packaging when i ship prints to clients and collectors.
around lunch time i went up stairs and made a little fire in the fireplace. there were months worth of brown paper packaging that comes with many shipped items. i used it all as kindling to start a nice wood fire. again, not the greenest thing i’ve ever done, but it was nothing if not efficient and pretty!
after the lunch break, i started on the other room in the basement that leads to the closet where the old enlarger has been hiding for the past 9 years. i wasn’t even sure if i had all the parts. and there are some things that i know are missing and i’ll have to try to purchase replacements for them either on-line or through contacts with friends.
once the space was cleared and things were cleaned up a bit more, i had to clear off a utility table in the garage. i bought several of these tables for pennies courtesy of the fire sale that happened when Lucent Technologies was crashing in and around 2001. they sold off so many lab tables with nice industrial tops which would probably be perfect for the chemical hazards of a darkroom setup.
its now probably about 3:00 and i’ve got to break soon for dinner with the family. the top of the utility table is filthy and needed to be scrubbed down, tape and labels removed with goo-be-gone, and the legs needed leveling since the floor in the basement is pitched generally toward the drains. with all that done, i carried the Omega B8 enlarger over to the table. parts of it had been disassembled for shipping when i moved into the house, so i tried as best i could to find all the parts in order to reassemble it. i was able to locate the condenser lamp housing, filter drawer, and the negative carriers for 35mm, 6×6, and what i think is 6×9. what i couldn’t find was the armatures for mounting the condenser lamp housing onto the enlarger. this required a considerable amount of searching throughout the house.
its amazing to me how many boxes are still sealed from my move-in 9 years ago, but there, in a closet in my spare bedroom, at the bottom of a box of 800k floppy disks was a ziplock bag with the connecting arms for the enlarger. bingo! i’ve still got the original 75mm vivitar lens that came with the enlarger when i bought it from a friends father, probably back in 1991. so, it seems to me there are only a few pieces missing at this point: a good light source, preferably one of the Aristo HI23 cold light heads, a decent sized easel, an archival washer, and a good enlarging timer. i’ve got lots of trays and chemical storage bottles and a pretty good know how of making nice prints. but to me, at least now the hard part is done!