Winter is Coming Soon - Initial Work on my Off the Grid Darkroom - #OffTheGrid

November 07, 2015  •  3 Comments

Winter is literally right around the corner, so I have to take some initial steps for my off the grid darkroom so I can create some large format contact prints this winter.  In the photo to the left, the darkroom cabin is getting delivered with a special trailer unit that is one of the neatest inventions I have seen in a long time.  The trailer has the ability to lift, as shown in the photo, but it can also move side to side as well allowing very precise placement of the cabin. 

Winter the the Ozark Mountain region can bring some very cool temperatures, ranging from zero degrees fahrenheit on occasion, to regular temperatures in the 20's and 30's on a regular basis. Snow and ice happen as well.  In fact, I am super excited waiting for the first snow so I can go out and explore the winter landscape to create some new prints.  

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My very first priority right now is to install insulation in the darkroom.  For heat, I will be using a portable propane heater properly sized to heat the darkroom cabin on demand and for electricity, I will be using my portable solar panel and pure sine wave inverter.  I develop my films using a Jobo system, so A/C power is required for that to operate.  I will be making large format contact prints this winter, so all I need is a simple incandescent light to expose the prints  For my POP prints, all I need is sunlight, which is free!  

I will be using a simple fold out table for now to place my trays on for print development.  I have a clean water storage tank on site that I will be using for my water supply.  I will be using eco-friendly black and white development chemicals available from Freestyle Photo to process my silver gelatin prints and my POP prints are very simple to process with table salt and distilled water and sodium thiosulfate.

This is a journey for me and I am not in any rush.  Now that I have the land and the cabin and darkroom up, the rest of my time is spent balancing doing projects to improve my living and working areas and getting out and creating new work.  As I begin the process of building out the darkroom and working, I will write new articles and share new photos and video along the way.  

Please share your thoughts and comments below.

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Rolf Schmolling(non-registered)
Hi Tim,

definitely count me in!
In fact I am getting a bit restless. So could you point me to a resource (online or book) where the basics of calibration (with the stouffer wedge 31 steps) are explained. I mean a starting point. "Beyond monochrome" has some stuff on this but it leaves a gap on understanding - the most difficult thing is probably a) how to expose the sandwiched sheet&wedge properly and b) after development read/understand the results. I'd like if not to start doing things, at least study in the right way/direction. Thank You, keep warm up in the mountains.
Tim Layton Fine Art
Hi Rolf, yes indeed, truly off the grid!! Based on my calculation for power, I can get it done with solar and a proper battery bank. I do have a resource where I can add a wind turbine down the road if I want to do that. Based on my current workload, it looks like the calibration course will be ready for delivery by the end of the year, but not likely in November because I won't have enough time due to client projects. December is typically my slow time and I get to do things like work on the course materials, etc.
Rolf Schmolling(non-registered)
Aaah, deluxe isolation! So no power off a grid. I wonder if solar cells will be enough and you might need additional wind power… you might be able to run generator off natural gas too (and clean)… I do not know about that inverter stuff though.

Will you be able to offer the first course on calibration and related stuff in November? Going to be my birthday present. Best wishes, Rolf
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