First Dark

A year and a half after our move, I’ve managed to get my darkroom back together and operational again. The darkroom is basically half of the room I use as my home office. I had most of the stuff I needed already, as I’d been printing in our old apartment. In that room, the enlarger sat on my desk, and I wanted to put it on its own stand so I could actually use my desk for work. After a little hunting around I found a small cabinet that would make a suitable stand and give me a little extra storage. I can keep paper, film, and other supplies in there. My enlarger is an Omega D5-XL, a big beast. So I really wanted to be sure the cabinet would hold it.

In the apartment, I blacked out the windows with blackout plastic and gaffer’s tape. This worked okay, but the tape tended to come off when I didn’t want it to and not when I did. Getting a good seal around the windows was difficult, and then opening the windows after was a pain, too. For my new office, I made inserts for the windows out of black foam-core art board and blackout cloth. These can be slipped into the window frames without being attached to the window. The light seal is actually better than what I had before. The system still needs to be tweaked a bit, but it basically works the way I wanted it to. When I want to print, all I need to do is pour out the chemicals, then wash up the trays when I’m done.

I’ve been trying to get into the habit of taking a camera with me when I am out on my bike. This has meant rejiggering the collection a bit, as the Nikons have proven to be something of a load. I use a sling pack, and having something more lightweight in there would be a good thing. I sold off a couple of pieces of large-format gear I wasn’t getting much use out of and got an Olympus OM-1N, as well as an old Konica III rangefinder. The Olympus is half the weight of one of the Nikons. I also finally got around to having my Koni-Omega serviced. I’ll need to rig up a padded carrier if I want to take that; it’s way too big for the backpack.

The first prints I made were from the first roll I put through the Konica. Ilford FP4+ film. I had it CLA’d by Greg Weber along with the K-O, and when he sent it back to me he told me it would become my favorite camera. I can see what he means. It’s a bit quirky, but in a fun way. It was designed in the 1950s to be a relatively low-priced competitor to the Leica. In 1958, this camera cost $120, whereas at the time a Leica would have been $400-500. The build and optics are first-rate; the cost savings came mainly from it being a fixed-lens camera.

The main problem with shooting while out riding is that sometimes I lose track of exactly where I was when any given picture was taken. This is somewhere out along the Charles River, a spillway for fish to get through the dam. Newton? Watertown? I’m not exactly sure.

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