This is the room in which the handling of the plate, film or bromide paper is done. It is not actually dark, but is suitably lighted with red or orange light according to the sensitiveness of the material being handled. The fitting out of such a room depends upon the means and accommodation at the disposal of the worker, the more convenient the equipment the greater will be the comfort in working, but the beginner need not experience any misgiving as to its being a costly affair in the early stages. Any accommodation for a dark-room really suffices - from a cupboard under a flight of stairs to an elaborately equipped apartment - provided that all photographically active light can be shut out.
The most practical thing for a beginner to do in the early stages of the work is to find some convenient place, as a dark cupboard, as above-mentioned, and put in just those things that are actually required for the treatment of the plate after exposure in the camera. The requisites for a satisfactory beginning may be listed as follows: -
Developing Dishes (about three).
Can of Clean Water.
Receptacle for Waste Solutions, etc.
To these may be added a work-bench, with accommodation for the various accessories. Such benches can be bought ready-made, or the home-made piece of apparatus shown in Fig. 29 will be found very useful. It may be made from any good ordinary packing-case about 2 feet long, 1 foot deep and 1 foot wide, supported by four legs made from slate lath 1 1/2 inches by 3/4 inch, screwed to the box and joined up at the bottom by cross-pieces to give firmness to the whole. The length of the legs should be sufficient to bring the top to a convenient height for working upon. At each end is fitted a bracket ledge, one for the bottle of fixing solution, the other for the receptacle for waste solutions; the top covered with oilcloth that any spilt liquid may be easily wiped up. A portion of the box lid is screwed to the back of the box, and along this a small shelf fitted for the accommodation of bottles and measures. Above this shelf is arranged a smaller one to hold the lamp. This back fitting is made firm by means of side pieces of wood screwed to it and to the ends of the box. The interior is divided up into compartments for storing plates, papers, dishes, etc. This work-bench will be found self-contained, portable and capable of much service.
After some work in the above surroundings, the worker will have gained sufficient experience to know what goes to make up a really good and convenient workroom, if it is possible to have the sole use of a room. If the window of the room has a northerly aspect, so much the better, because the sun will not shine upon it, therefore the light will be constant and safe. If the window is exposed to much direct sunlight, it will possibly be safest to shut it out altogether. The first thing to do - having acquired the room - is to make arrangements for covering up the window to shut out all the active light. This is best done by providing a light movable shutter, as Fig. 30. The shutter is made up of a light wooden framework with cross-pieces to give firmness. This is covered with calico or canvas and brown paper. Means must be provided for holding the shutter in position, or it can be made to swing in and out on hinges. It is advisable to have a strip of felt tacked around the edges of the shutter to form a cushion between it and the window-frame to ensure absolute contact.