My darkroom isn’t really a room but more of a corner comprised of work benches, shelves of paper, mats, presses, trays, chemicals along with a collection of several enlargers, all which have been practically given away for next to nothing at estate sales.
The darkroom and it’s function is an unusual concept especially when considering where photography is now when everyone has a camera at their disposal and can instantly see and share their photographs with thousands of followers and friends. When someone compares that with the old technology of the darkroom, failure to see the merit in analogue photography can arise. Why spend all the extra time of shooting on film, developing and including all the risks that come along with working in analogue photography? For me, I get so much more pride and sentimental value when that photograph finally comes to life; it comes down to the greater appreciation for a hand made print taken using film developed by hand and later produced in the darkroom through trial and error.
One of the best things about the present day is that with the advancement of digital photography, a lot of the equipment related to film photography, that was once considered high tech can now be found at estate sales and resale shops on the cheap. It amazes me that photographers decades prior did this for a living; the amount of skill involved is astounding.
By far the most interesting piece of film photography equipment I have is a Beseler Dichro DG colorhead with a 45MXT chassis. I acquired this enlarger in an estate sale that I had previously mentioned in my posts. While browsing through a retired photography studio I discovered the DG in a corridor area used for storage. The unit was on the floor hidden away from light and was covered in a thick layer of dust and dirt. I almost didn’t recognize it until I noticed the Beseler logo on the head. The seller asked if I was interested in purchasing it because it was going to the scrap yard the following day. Without hesitation I rescued it, brought it home and cleaned it thoroughly.
The unit is so massive and operates with such intense brightness that the head portion which houses 2 – 200 watt halogen bulbs has to be connected to a separate blower in order to keep the components from melting. It’s such an unusual looking contraption when everything is setup but after my first run with the machine I discovered it works perfectly. The DG sits on a Beseler 45MXT chassis which is motorized to allow the enlarger to move up and down for precise image size placement on the baseboard below. When I attempted to research the enlarger I was surprised to find that almost nothing exist on the internet. I was specifically looking for any type of manual that could illustrate how to plug in the multiple components. There are so many dials, switches and electrical plugs I was a bit intimidated; but with some trial and error I was able to figure it out.
From what I could gather from various sources is that the Beseler DG was one of the earlier introductions of the 45 series enlargers. The number 45 indicating that the enlarger can print up to 4″x5″ negatives and has the ability to print color or black and white. I have yet to print 4×5 or color on this unit but I plan to in the future. While I don’t regularly print color in the darkroom, the Beseler DG is still a great black and white enlarger when I feel up to the task of handling the beast.