Thinking About the Type of Prints That I Want to Create at my Off the Grid Cabin and Darkroom

November 15, 2015  •  4 Comments

As I start the real work of building out my off the grid cabin and darkroom, my mind is racing about the possibilities and options that I have in front of me.  

The core theme for me with my off the grid cabin and darkroom is simplicity.  I feel this theme carrying over into my fine art black and white work and it feels very good.  As I start the building process and create the workspace in my darkroom, I am thinking about what I want to create and what will I need in order to do this.  

My cabin and my darkroom (two separate buildings) are completely off the grid.  I create my own electricity with solar and I have a backup gas powered generator that I use for power tools and projects away from the cabin.  For now, I am hauling in my water supply, but I will be getting some tests done in the near future to determine the cost of drilling a well.  

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Being a large format photographer, I continue to enjoy and value contact printing.  I currently use 4x5, 8x10 and 11x14 view cameras to create the negatives for my contact prints.  My cabin is located in the Ozark Mountain region and I have endless opportunities to explore the landscape across four distinct seasons.  After I get a few personal comforts squared away in the cabin, I am going to design and setup a work area in my darkroom for contact printing before thinking about doing enlargements.  

I suspect the very first large format contact prints that I make will be POP prints, since all I need is sunshine and a flat work surface to place a few trays on for the development process. I enjoy creating Van Dyke's, Salt, Ziatype, and Argyrotype's.   I use distilled water for my POP printing processes anyway, so that is easy enough to keep that on hand.  I also have a good supply of the Lodima (AZO replacement paper) on hand and since this process uses a low watt incandescent bulb, that is an option too. 

I think the larger challenge ahead of me in long-term temperature control in the darkroom.  I have some ideas, but this will have to be explored and fine tuned over time.  For now, I am heading into winter, so my short term focus will be on heat in order to keep the liquids from freezing.  Since I am not physically at the cabin and darkroom every day, I need a solution that can be trusted in my absence.  I suspect I will create my own electricity with solar and/or wind turbine with enough energy to run a wall mount heater system, either radiated electric heat or a wall mount heater and A/C combo solution.  The challenge is sizing the system and having enough amp-hours in my battery bank to work with varying conditions.  

I will keep you updated here on my blog as the story unfolds and I will share some photos of my journey.  Please share your thoughts and comments below.  I always enjoy hearing from my readers.

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joan aguer poch(non-registered)
A container x liters of water and a small pump.
It may be a solution
Lose by my ingles of Mr. Google
Rolf Schmolling(non-registered)
well, I wonder if it would be more efficient – in terms of cost and security – to get a (not-to-large) tank for natural gas and run heaters & backup power (Fuel cell on the market yet? or engine – there was project here in Germany where a company named Lichtblick was going to install engines made be VW in 1000s of homes to create warmth and electricity locally and into the grid, all networked together as one huge power plant. The technology might be available and reasonably efficient. Still low oil prices created not enough demand to create this – yet). I wonder if you get so low temperature that your electrical heaters might be overwhelmed – right at the time when there is less powerful sun available?
Tim Layton Fine Art
Hi Alan, thanks for the comment. I will definitely keep you posted on my progress and write new articles and post a lot of photos. Take care.

Very keen to see you design and build the darkroom, please post lots of photos. Interested to see how you will get your water supply fixed up and how you will heat the water. Hoping to start work on my new darkroom soon. Its not 'off grid' but it will be in my garage, which currently has no water supply.
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