Setting up a Portable Darkroom
In this sequel to setting up our portable darkrooms, we've made a new video that provides some better views of the steps involved. Before you start setting things up, pick your working location. For your comfort, and safety of operation, choose a sheltered location, away from wind, weather, and direct sun if possible. This last one will keep you and your chemistry cooler longer.
Once you've found that comfortable location to set up your gear, place the darkroom on a solid horizontal surface such as a table or bench, and secure the front handle to the table or a bucket of ballast to insure that an unexpeced gust of wind doesn't catch the open lid and/or fabric and tip the darkroom over.
When it's secured, undo the latches, and open the lid. Orient the vertical support rods, then slip on the extensions. Place the pointed end of support rod on the front lip of the case then slide it toward the corner until it drops into it's retaining hole. Repeat this on the other side. Smooth out the light trap flaps which surround the sidewalls of the case. Snap the apron to the inside front wall of the case, then Velcro the side flap to the apron. Stuff any loose fabric from the side flap into the corner of the box and/or around the vertical support rod. Repeat this on the other side.
Once it's set up, place only those things that need to be in the dark in your darkroom. This includes: the silver bath, plate holder, tray for catching developer and wash water, developer bottle, small beaker for pouring developer, and a wash bottle containing water for stopping development in the darkroom. Keep everything else on a table outside the darkroom. This includes, the fixing bath, collodion, plates, and all the other bits and pieces that you find useful when you're working.
Portable darkrooms can be a little tight on space. Getting the layout right for your working methods may take a little experimenting. With a little practice, you'll find a configuration that works well for you.
When "getting into" the darkroom, step up to the front of the box, then draw the shroud over your head and pull it down behind you until it hangs freely behind you. Gather up the loose fabric on either side of your waist and pull that snuggly around you, folding the loose fabric in front of you. Pinch the fabric between your stomach and the box to hold the folds in place while your hands are occupied with the business of making photographs.
When you're done, and ready to pack the darkroom away, simply reverse the assembly process. Undo the velcro, unsnap the apron from the case, remove the vertical support extensions and place them back in the case. Fold the support rods toward the center of the box, tuck any extra fabric under the safe-light panel, then close and latch the lid.