Taken the plunge today and ordered an enlarger meter from RH Designs – www.rhdesigns.co.uk. Finding that printing is taking so long with test strips and all that, that somehow I need to speed the process up. I appreciate that printing is all part of the fun, but sometimes it can take me 3 hours to do one print if I'm trying to do something large like A3. So I've plumped for an Analyser Pro - http://www.rhdesigns.co.uk/darkroom/html/analyser_pro.html. 250 notes, so it better be worth the money!
Somehow, even with the workload I've got on, I've managed to get my darkroom up and running last night. I waited until dark yesterday and using bucket loads of blackout fabric from silverprint and a serious amount of velcro from Proton Packaging, I successfully managed to block out all the ambient light from outside (the location is slap bang in the middle of a town centre, so there are a plethora of streetlights outside). I then set up all the equipment I'd been amassing over the last few weeks, and got to work with everything I had learnt. The only sink I have access to is just outside the room in an adjacent room but its not too much of a bind. Mixed up my chemicals, and played around with the enlarger (Durst M601) that I got off Ebay for a song. I figured I'd just experiment with making some prints for the time being as this was of a proof of concept exercise, and I didn't know if it was quite dark enough to open up a roll of film. Aside from the fact that the paper I was using looked as though it was about 400 years old, and I kept forgetting to close the light proof bag every time, I'm very pleased with the results. I did experience some difficulties getting the enlarger to focus properly (this is probably 'cos its older than me), and for the life of me, I could not get the loupe to work. I also need to get another safelight, as I spent most of the night tripping over my own feet!I left the blackout material up over night, so that I could see how effective it would be in the daylight when I returned this morning. It was about as I expected. There are a few areas that I need to improve, so I think I will need to get some more velcro, and adjust my implementation a little before I set to work developing and printing properly. I have found though, that one needs to take more time when shooting film not to take unneccessary shots as the process of developing and printing is so time consuming that there's no point in shooting crap!