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Darkroom instructions

Darkroom usage and reservation guidelines for members

Darkroom can be used every day of the week between 9–21 o’clock for free, if you have paid the membership fee and there are no reservations. It is worth keeping in mind that during these general turns, there might be others working at the same time.

For borrowing the key for the darkroom or asking someone to open the door, contact the darkroom managers by sending email to vastavalo.darkroom@gmail.com. If you are not yet member, you can join by following instructions.

If you don’t want to join the club, you may still use the darkroom. In that case you can find the instructions and prices below.

When you are planning to use the darkroom, first thing you should do is to check the reservation status, so that you are not entering when someone else has reserved the space.

You may also reserve the space for yourself if you rather work alone. For reservation, you need the permission to mark reservations to the darkroom calendar, which you can request from our webmaster Krista Kierikka (krista.kierikka(at)gmail.com). Reserving the darkroom costs 1 €/h/reservation (no extra for additional users).

Darkroom usage and reservation guidelines for non-members

Non-members and other associations are also welcome to use our darkroom, in which case there will be slightly different rules and prices in place. There are several darkroom working related courses held each year in the darkroom. If you wish to use the space for that purpose contact the managers by sending email to vastavalo.darkroom(at)gmail.com.

Non-members and associations may reserve the darkroom between 9–21 o’clock for a maximum of eight hours per day and maximum of five days per week. This policy makes sure that the space is available for our members even when there is ongoing course. The price for reservation is 25 €/day.

General guidelines for darkroom usage

When you are using chemicals, switch on the ventilation from the switch next to computer table.
There is two sinks at the darkroom, of which the one located in the dark side of the darkroom, is reserved for chemicals only and the one at the light side is used for food stuff only. Do not wash chemical containers on the light side.

All of the laboratory glassware is free to use, as long as they are washed well after use. There are also some very good glass storage bottles for preserving chemicals. You may freely borrow those for storing your chemicals as long as they remain in the darkroom. You may not take glassware home.

When you are storing chemicals, write following information to piece of tape:

  • What is in the container
  • When it has been stored
  • Who the contents belong to
  • (When it will expire)

All unmarked chemical containers are either disposed or taken into Vastavalo’s general use.

Every darkroom user must make sure that the darkroom is cleaned after use. The dishes must be washed with dishwashing soap, so that there will not be any residual chemicals left to glassware that can potentially ruin the next user’s work. Graduated cylinders should not be left upside down to the drying rack.

Do not pour waste chemicals to the sink.

Before you leave, switch off the lights and unplug all the unnecessary electronics. There might be a long time before the next user arrives.

Materials sold at the darkroom

We want to make the beginning of the darkroom work as easy and cheap as possible for beginners and those that would just want to try the hobby. At the darkroom there are a selection of most common analogue photography materials that are priced to not burden your wallet too much. Papers, chemicals, films and negative sleeves can all be bought directly from the darkroom. Prices can be found here.

The materials are paid either by cash, paying it directly to the cash box at the darkroom or alternatively by marking the purchase to an account book, to be paid later. The darkroom debts are collected twice a year during May and December. The debts can also be paid at other times if you know you are not going to use the space later during the same year. Instructions for payment are given below. All the purchases must be marked to the account book.

Paying the debts

The debts that you have marked to the account book has to be paid to Vastavalo’s bank account FI77 4726 5020 0382 32. Write to the message field “Darkroom debt” and your name if the payment is done from someone else’s account.

Developing and printing black & white film

Our darkroom is the most well suited for developing black and white films and making prints of BW negatives. If you were thinking of developing color film or even printing color, look at the instructions below.

The darkroom has a selection of BW chemicals for film development and printing. Developing film using these general use chemicals costs 1€/roll of film. Printing cost 2€/session. There is also slightly finer grain producing XTOL film developer, for an additional 1€/150ml of stock solution, which is paid on top of the basic fee.

Usually there should be working solutions of chemicals diluted, which you can use when you have paid the usage fee. If there are no premade chemicals, or the ones in the bottles have expired, you may dilute more from stock solutions that have been marked as Vastavalo’s, as long as you know what you are doing and you follow the instructions on the chemical packages. If some of the stock solutions are running out, please inform darkroom managers (vastavalo.darkroom@gmail.com), so we know when to restock the missing chemical. The expired chemicals must not be poured down the drain, there is a section of waste chemical disposal below.

Developing and printing colour film

It is also possible to develop colour film with the C-41 process at our darkroom. We have an old but golden film development machine Jobo ATL-2, that makes the colour development relatively reproducible. However, the usage of the machine is so complex and includes risk of some unwanted outcomes, so we have decided that machine should only be used by dedicated “joborators” who are trained to use the machine. There are quite frequently special sessions for colour development, when we develop a bigger batch of colour rolls at once. Those sessions are usually arranged at Vastavalo’s relatively active Telegram chat. You can join the chat by asking for a link from @LauriPa or other board members.

Some of our members occasionally also develop slide film with the E-6 process, which is a bit different and less used process. Vastavalo doesn’t have its own chemicals for E-6, but asking about the possibility from the Telegram chat might be worth the effort, if you would like to develop slide films yourself.

The darkroom is perfectly suitable for making colour prints. But we encourage you to think twice before you begin to aspire to making analogue colour prints. There is a clear reason why not many are still doing it. It is an expensive, rather annoying and difficult process, yet it produces prints that might be worth the effort. Due to three reasons written above, we don’t do general colour printing sessions, but if you have an urge to try, you must buy the necessary chemicals and papers yourself. The darkroom team (vastavalo.darkroom(at)gmail.com) can then help you plan the execution.

Waste chemical disposal

Photographic chemicals are toxic, and therefore they should not be poured down the drain. There are waste containers for different types of chemical waste. Following waste are collected separately:

  • Black and white developer, film and print (BW Dev waste)
  • Black and white fixer, film and print (BW Fix waste)
  • Colour developer, C-41 (C-41 Dev waste)
  • Colour fixer, C-41 (C-41 Fix waste)
  • Colour bleach, C-41 (C-41 Bleach waste)
  • Slide film developer, E-6 (E-6 Dev waste)
  • Slide film fixer, E-6 (E-6 Fix waste)
  • Slide film bleach, E-6 (E-6 Bleach waste)

Sometimes there might have been two part colour chemicals, then there will be instead of separate bleach and fix containers, be only one “Blix waste” container. If some of the containers is getting full and there are no empty waste canisters, please inform darkroom team about it (vastavalo.darkroom(at)gmail.com).

If there is no suitable container for your waste, take an empty container and mark it accordingly.