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How to black out windows?

Robin Dreyer , May 01, 1998; 09:08 p.m.

I'm setting up a darkroom in one corner of my office. My plan is to black out the whole room when I want to print. I have three windows which I would like to get light from when I'm doing other work but I will want no light from them when I'm in the dark. Any good ideas about curtains, shutters, blinds or any other means of blacking out the windows??



Eben Hill , May 02, 1998; 01:19 p.m.

I have a similar situation and I use cardboard cut to size. I either tack it up or wedge it in. You might have to glue a few boxes together if you cannot find one big enough. This works better than curtains and blinds (which I have tried) it's cheap, easy, effective (no light leaks as with the others) and no need to install any hangers or rods. Just make sure the side that can be seen from the street is not the side with all the writing on it. You don't want to cause an eyesore for the neighbors.

Tony Rowlett , May 02, 1998; 04:24 p.m.

An opaque black poster board, availiable at art supply stores, makes an ideal black-out panel. Use Velcro to secure onto/over/into the window jams. They store nicely under the bed until ready to print again.

Darren Barnes , May 03, 1998; 12:42 p.m.

I used to work as an optical engineer for the UK's Dept. of Transport. Our lab used wide (2 inch) black Venetian blinds and black heavy velvet (or similar material) curtains. The curtain overlapped the window approx. 1 foot all round and we only had one curtain per window so there was no curtain join in the middle for light to leak through. The curtains did have poppers to facilitate pinning them tightly against the wall but we found the foot overlap to be adequate most of the time. The only problem with this set up is that the lab gets hot as all the black radiates the suns heat.

Of course painting EVERYTHING in the lab (including the door handle) matt black also helps but might be a bit extreme for a home lab...

P.Aing -- , May 03, 1998; 05:54 p.m.

For small windows,you can use the backing paper of 120 roll film to make a screen instead of using cardboard. Lightproof, absorb less sunlight than fully black cardboard,does not attract dust. Black cardboard also turn to dark grey after some months in sunlight.

Mani Sitaraman , May 03, 1998; 09:13 p.m.

1. It is not necessary to have the darkroom painted all black (with all due respect to Darren). The darkroom is a workspace like any other, and should be bright, well ventilated and comfortable whenever possible,and is required to be dark only at the time of exposure and development of paper. I've worked in a black painted darkroom, and found it to be an oppressive little hole that tired me out in no time at all. A well lit room is a pleasure to evaluate prints in, clean up, develop film etc.

2. You can achieve the above objective by sealing all light leaks really well. You do *not* need black window shades/blockers but just totally opaque ones. Opaque white artboard works just as well. However, overlap/blacking at the edges of the window is a good idea. What has worked well for me in the past has been a sort of double baffle or tongue and groove arrangement at the edges of the window. You might want to try having a 8in-1 ft flap of black velvet attached around the window frame permanently and a similar border of velvet around the board, and you can tuck in the flaps attached to the window board/blind behind the wall flaps thus creating a baffle.

Steve Bingham , May 03, 1998; 11:40 p.m.


Use heavy duty Reynolds Aluminum Wrap and masking tape. Goes on quick, comes off quick, cheap, lasts, and is good enough for even a color darkroom! Use it on the inside of the windows. Variations abound. You can even use it on slidding windows to air your darkroom from time to time. Instead of masking tape, tru electricans black tape for an even darker darkroom.


Glen Johnson , May 04, 1998; 10:54 a.m.

I have set up several darkrooms over the years, and the first thing I would point out is that changing bags, changing tents (Jobo), or chanigng rooms (Calumet) solve nearly all darkroom problems EXCEPT those associated with printing.

For printing, and especially for color printing, you have to have it dark. Even the LCD display on something like a timer can cause a problem.

When I set up my most recent darkroom (at the end of 1997) for color printing, I went to a local fabric store and bought black felt backed black vinyl. This stuff is cheap, and I just stapled it to the window frame, duct taped the edge, and then made a drape that could roll up to cover the door, with good overlap. Total cost was less than $15.

B Schade , May 07, 1998; 12:28 p.m.

An easy solution to a room that has multiple uses is blackout shade material. Any good fabric store should have it and it's pretty inexpensive. (It's white and looks like the material on pull-down window shades.) Put stick-on velcro completely around the edge of the material and around the window frame. (The velcro comes in 10 ft rolls) I have it on two full sized windows that face west and there are no light leaks, even on sunny days. It's also easy to put up and take off quickly.

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