There is nothing more iconic in the world of photography than the darkroom. A staple of traditional photography methodologies, the darkroom is a space that film photographers use in order to develop their negatives into actual photographs.
As the name suggests, this space is almost completely dark save for a single “safelight” that serves as the only source of illumination. With the room being almost completely dark, it is more than likely that you’ll be using some kind of curtain to block out sunlight from the windows. This then begs the question, “how can you create a darkroom using photography studio curtains?”
Our designers at QuickFit are here to help you out with that!
The Science Of A Darkroom
To truly appreciate a darkroom and the role that darkroom photography curtains play, we need to understand why traditional film photographers required a darkroom in the first place. No doubt, you have already seen long floor to ceiling curtains throughout homes and studios. But this doesn't necessarily mean they are suitable for photography.
The reason film works the way that it does is because the surface of film is covered in a light-sensitive emulsion. When a camera takes a photograph, the camera shutter allows light to stream in quickly through the lens. This light is filtered through the aperture, which controls how exposed the film becomes to light. When the light hits the film, the emulsion reacts, forming microscopic crystals that take on the quality of the light that hit it. Since our eyes, and cameras, work by taking in light reflected off of objects, the film takes an impression of the way the light was falling in that particular moment, effectively capturing a snapshot in time!
In a darkroom, the film is made into negatives, which are then put through a chemical process that brings out the colours and shades of the true image by submerging photo paper into a chemical bath. After this, the image is submerged into a fixative that prevents light from inflicting any unwanted changes to the image.
This is why darkrooms need to be totally dark. Any light that hits the negative or the photo paper will cause detrimental damage to the photo. The only light allowed is the “safelight”, which is generally red because the emulsion on negatives and darkroom paper is blind to red light. So while fitting out the space with roller blinds or eyelet curtains might look good, only blockout darkroom photography curtains are up to the task.
How Do You Blackout Windows In A Darkroom?
With the control of light being so important to the function of a darkroom, one of the most important things you’ll be doing is managing the major source of incoming light: your room’s windows. Now, granted you’ll need light to set up the other amenities of your darkroom, and it’d probably be a good idea to set up the safelight first so that when you do block off the light to your darkroom, you’ll at least have a backup source to prevent you from stumbling around in the dark.
Once you have your tables, chemicals, and equipment set up satisfactorily, including your safelight, you can start to consider blocking out the windows. This can be done in a variety of ways, but many people use garbage bags taped against the window to block out sunlight.
As we mentioned, when it comes to installing curtains in your darkroom, the only type of curtains up to the task are blockout curtains (also known as blackout). This is because they’re made from thick, tightly woven fabric, similar to thermal curtains, that’s designed to keep out all sources of light.
Once you’ve chosen the style of curtain you want for your darkroom you’ve going to have to choose the best accessory for your curtain to hang your darkroom photography curtains. Rods and tracks are pretty standard curtain hanging apparatuses that do the same thing, just with different aesthetic results. Regardless of which you choose, you’ll want to make sure that your rod or track allows your curtains to cover the entirety of the window, as well as a significant space above, below, and around each window. This will allow you to block as much light as possible.
Once you’ve chosen your rods and tracks, it’s time to select the best curtain header styles for your darkroom photography curtains. There are a few main styles to choose from, but we would recommend using eyelet curtains for the following reason.
When it comes to hanging curtains in a darkroom you want to prevent any extraneous light seeping in. While most curtain designs consist of two drapes split down the middle, in a darkroom you’d be better off going with a single panel, eliminating the risk of light spilling in from the traditional middle part in split curtain panels.
Eyelets threaded through a rod will allow the easiest opening and closing of a curtain of this style. Tab headers will be difficult to use with such a large, heavy, single sheet of cloth, while track systems may also present some difficulty with a single large sheet of curtain. Eyelets are great for smooth, easy opening and shutting, and can also add to the robustness of the curtain at its head.
How To Create a Darkroom Using Photography Studio Curtains
The reason why photography studio curtains are so effective is because of the fabric they’re made out of as well as their design. Darkroom photography curtains are made to control the quality of light but also create an absence of light in a space.
If you hang regular curtains in a window, you will get errant beams and spots of light streaming through, and these may cause damage to your precious negatives and image - but creating a darkroom using photography studio curtains eliminates that risk.
Shop darkroom photography curtains right here at QuickFit!