The best laid plans …

In my  post a few days ago, I went on and on about re-arranging the furniture in the darkroom. One of my points was that the enlargers now sat lower.

Well, that didn’t work out.

I spent part of yesterday making some proof prints. Nothing too strenuous, just some quick and dirty RC prints with negligible burning and dodging. I stopped not because I was finished, or tired of working (it happens); but my back started to feel the effects of bending over ever so slightly while making test strips or putting the paper in the easel.

The enlargers are back up to the height they were before, and I think the next printing session will be more comfortable.

There are conventions as to the height of certain things. If you’ve ever designed or remodeled, say, a kitchen, you’re probably familiar with the concept. Most tables and desks (in the US) are 28-30 inches high – 30 being the most common. This height is comfortable sitting in a standard chair (also made within a standard height range.) “Counter height” is 34-36 inches, leaning toward 36. This is the height of your kitchen counters.

I’m a big believer in having things at the correct height. I first came across this idea decades ago when a tall friend was having his house remodeled, and his bathroom sink was higher than “normal”. However, it was at the right height for him! Much more comfortable. Since I am of average height, standard dimensions work pretty well for me.

Darkroom sink stands are often manufactured so that the sink bottom is at table height. The front of the sinks is then at counter height and meshes up with any surrounding cabinets. This is similar to a kitchen sink. (No, really, go measure yours.) Having a sink bottom at 30 inches, or even a bit lower, makes it easier to do some things, such as filling up a large pot or jug with water, and then having to lift it out of the sink!

However, if a darkroom sink is used primarily for printing trays, then I want the height of the sink bottom, and therefore the trays, to be comfortable for me, which just happens to be counter height, or about 36 inches. So, when I bought a sink years ago, I made my own stand, so that the sink sits higher. It’s always been comfortable.

This is the first piece of advice I give when people ask about “secrets” in designing and constructing their darkroom. Be conscious of the height of your sinks. It will save your back in the long run.

The second sink (now that I have one after all these years) is at the standard height like a kitchen sink. It’s for mixing chemistry and cleaning, so it works fine. The print washer is also in this sink, so it’s easier to get paper in and out than it would be 6 inches higher.

Lowering the baseboard of the enlarger had the same effect on me as having to bend over to rock trays. It probably would not have been so obvious as quickly when I was younger, but I am not younger anymore. Anyway, it was a simple fix. I had the one stand (before all this moving around) jacked up with a set of those plastic bed risers, designed to add 5.5 inches (close enough) to anything with four legs. Another $5 set of those, and it’s all better.



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