Skip to main content

Darkroom Automation Part 6: The Workflow in Practice.

I have now spent a couple of session in the darkroom with my automation setup. In general I am pleased. It eases the work of making split filter prints and reduces errors around changing filters and remembering timings. I also am not reaching all over the place in the dark. If paper consumption is any indication then it is a success as I am going through more paper. Not because of errors but because the ease of setting up a new exposure brings down my resistance to trying a different combination of filter times. Ultimately this could lead to better quality. Below are the first few examples on MGIV RC 8x10.

Barn near Sandpoint Idaho 
Near Odin Bay
Photo by my Grandfather, Sonoran desert near Phoenix (c 1950's)
These were rapidly printed with different variations as I honed into something I liked. So for straightforward prints it all works quite well.

Demo Video 

I made a short video to show how it all works.

Now the rough spots...

Test Strips

These are done using the manual screen, I use the following process.

  1. Select No-Filter position 
  2. Turn on enlarger using the controller
  3. Focus and crop photo as desired
  4. Turn off enlarger
  5. Select hard filter
  6. Place test strip on easel
  7. Press Test key
  8. Cover strip progressively after each beep
  9. Develop strip.

Repeat this with the soft filter.

This works pretty well despite not being done within the split filter menu.

Navigating the Menus

The plan of a simple linear access through the menus is starting fray around the edges. The split filter menu where the exposures are done is luckily one key press away from the developing menu. However getting back after finishing a print is 3 menus away. I need a back key. I have room on the development menu for such a key.

I probably should add a key from the manual screen to jump to the  developing screen  directly as well for test strips and using graded paper.

Dodging and Burning 

I haven't done this yet in the new system. I can already foresee some problems. In the split filter mode there are only two timers. I would have to move back to the manual screen and use that timer to select the burn filter and time. As long as it is only one filter this is manageable. More than one I might want more timers on the same page. I am trying to see how to re-arrange the screen to make more room. To be continued.

I would also like to get some videos posting how the whole thing works.

(To be Continued)


how do we contact for access to code? thank you. rL