How To Create A Darkroom

Written by on June 22, 2013 in Lifestyle - No comments | Print this page


PhotographerDiscovered a new hobby have you? Taking photographs is a very freeing hobby.

Not only are you able to photograph what inspires you most, but you know nothing you photograph is like anything else.

If you want to develop your prints at home and avoid having another see your work before it’s ready, a darkroom is what you need. Don’t be intimidated.

It’s easier than you think.  Take into consideration that color photo printing is very complicated. Stick to black and white for now. Besides, black and white is way more dramatic; which is good, right?


Enlarger: To blow up the negatives. These can be found online for relatively cheap.  If money is still a problem, the Internet has sites to make your own.

Light: A traditional darkroom light can be quite costly. Visit your local photo store for a red bulb if you are tight on money.

Chemicals: You’ll need your developer and fixer. Again, if money is an issue a simple solution of vinegar and water works as a stop bath.  The only one that needs regular replacing is the developer. The fixer can be recycled and reused.

Other Supplies:

  • Easel
  • Timer
  • Tongs (one for each tray)
  • Clothespins
  • String

Pick a Room

Whether it’s your bathroom, bedroom or basement, a room with no windows is ideal. If you have windows, don’t fear; that will be addressed later. A room with running water is an added plus so you don’t have to travel back and forth with water.


Windows a problem? Coving your windows with fabric or other darkening material is easy and, usually, inexpensive.

An even better solution is a permanent or removable cover, made of wood or other solid material.  If you have light that creeps in under the door, that isn’t a big deal either. Cover it with a piece of dark fabric.

Go into the room and shut the door; look for any light that streams in and cover it with fabric.  Another trick is to enter the room and hold up a piece of white fabric. If, after 5 minutes, you can make out the piece of paper, guess what? Too much light in the room.


Long counters along the walls can aid you in your step by step procedures allowing you to simply line up your trays and go down the line in order.

Drawers, cabinets and counters are also helpful to store photo paper, clothespins, etc. This will also aid in preserving your light sensitive supplies if the room is in use outside of your photo developing.


If the room is not a room initially, you may have a problem with proper ventilation. Good ventilation is key to prevent the fumes from accumulating.

Setting Up

You’ll want to make sure you have your red bulb set up and ready to use if you want to see what you are doing. To avoid confusion in your work and lessen the possibilities for errors, designate two halves of your room: one for wet and one for dry works.

Align your trays along the counters to ensure there is room for everything.  Your trays, in order, go developer, stop solution, fix solution and then the bath.

Shelby has been writing for 7 years and has recently developed a love for photography.  She has written on everything from DIY and saving money to where to purchase shutters Sacramento residents love.  Shelby fills her days writing her novels and freelance writing, hoping to one day write full-time.

Image courtesy of razvan ionut /


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