Over at The Online Photographer, Mike Johnston has been working on building a darkroom again after some time away from it. He’s been going through the various aspects of setting up a darkroom such as paint for walls and floors, the dry side, and the wet side. I’m sure he has lots more to share as he continues to build his darkroom.
One of the topic that is somewhat controversial is the color of the walls. Some folks (including Mike) prefer them to be white to increase visibility under safelight viewing. Other folks (like Ctein) prefer them to be black to decrease stray light during the print exposure — in fact, Ctein wrote a follow-up article on this topic where he discusses the topic of darkroom walls (his being the photo above). He has some interesting points, but the best one was something along the lines of when it comes to what color you paint your darkroom walls, there’s not really a globally accepted right or wrong.
I’ve been hijacking my kids’ bathroom for my makeshift darkroom, and since we currently live in an apartment I don’t have much of a choice on the wall colors (white). White seems to work fine for me and I’ve never had any noticeable issues with stray light (that I know of). But I’m starting to think about the topic more because we’re in the process of trying to buy a house and I’ve already staked a claim for dedicated darkroom space. If this happens, I’ll need to make a decision on the walls: black, white, or some shade of gray.
I’m sort of leaning toward white or gray. I do like a nice bright room when viewing the prints and making decisions, but perhaps it would be smart to darken things down for the sake of quality. I’m not sure if it really makes a difference one way or another.
What are your thoughts on the issue of darkroom color (meaning black, white, or any gray in-between)? Does it really matter for a personal darkroom?