An off grid art laboratory in the Secret Forest

Working in the forest darkroom

These days I’m doing a general test of the new darkroom. The space is not the largest one can desire, but I’m trying to keep everything well organized, even for larger prints. Here in the Secret Forest wildlife is so close to the building at all times. Last night, waiting for Nila to come back from her night deer hunting session* I opened the door and a bat swiftly entered and started to happily fly all around the darkroom! In a similar way, some days ago a firefly sneaked in the darkroom and wanted to leave its mark on the prints! which eventually could have been like mother nature lending me a creativity hand!
Working ambient temperature is ideal during this time of the year: around 20°C. It is a great help for both the black and white chemicals and me. During this week in other places of Italy and Europe the thermometer easily hits 40°C. On that matter, the Secret Forest is an ideal place for a fresh summer and for working without the need of any AC. In winter it is the other way around. When outside temperatures can be as low as -10°C, I struggle to maintain the inside temperature higher than 15°C and only in selected rooms. To keep then the chemicals warm enough I use heating mats like those used for plants. For Color development, which is much more demanding in terms of temperature control, I use a sous vide cooker style machine. With due care, and warm water buffers, it works well even in a cold environment.

*Deer and Nila are now best playmates running everywhere around the lab.

Test strip and the final print with the correct exposure. Baryta fiber paper, semi matte finish:

Fiber paper needs a meticulous and long washing cycle. To reduce water waste from the Secret Forest source I use a manual washing machine.
The chemistry I use is as ecological as possible and then properly disposed. The proceeds from each print are invested in the protection and future of the Secret Forest

Here below is a 5×7 “RC test for a larger print that will be on baryta fiber paper. Once the right settings have been fixed, it is necessary to do the calculations to move from one size and from one paper to another.

fine art print

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