This "shotgun" darkroom was a narrow space, running the length of the newsroom on the north side of the building. It was my home away from home and I enjoyed many hours developing black and white film and making prints and halftones.
I took a few photos of the darkroom with a fish eye lens:
|The Vidette darkroom circa 1991. Light table and radio near left. Copy stand and rapid print processing machine near right. In the back is the sink, photo gear cabinet and enlargers.|
The workhorse of our darkroom was an Omega D2V enlarger. It could print anything from 35mm to 4x5 negatives. The operator simply needed to move a set of condensers in the head of the enlarger and change negative carriers. I made many prints on this enlarger, both for the newspaper and for my various photography classes.
|The back of the darkroom. On the left is a small sink for developing film, timer and fridge. On the right is the Omega D2V with stat camera adapter (to make halftone screens) and behind it a wobbly old Beseler CII that never printed worth a damn.|
|Here I am making a halftone of what looks like a soccer photo under red safelights.|
The Omega D2 was a workhorse of an enlarger. We had one at the Pantagraph where I completed my photojournalism internship. I printed my entire senior project on Rt. 66 shot with a Crown Graphic on 4x5 film on this enlarger.
The demands of photography in newspapers moved rapidly from the darkroom to the newsroom. Gone are the days of printing under the safelights with the radio playing in the background. Digital imaging stations are located in the newsroom, and most darkroom spaces have been mothballed, turned into closets or computer rooms for scanning negatives.
Over the years I have owned and worked with several enlargers. In the back of my head I often thought that it would be great to own an Omega D2 at some point. With the needs of the family, home repairs, groceries etc. I put it on my "wish" list for something to get in the future.
On Thursday I was checking my email. I belong to an exchange group called Freecycle, where members put items up for free so that others can have them. We have freecycled a few things, and I have been able to acquire a few things as well. In my Freecycle messages was the message: "Omega D2 cold-light enlarger. Includes easel, Ilford contrast filters, 4x5 negative holder, 6x7 negative holder and 35mm negative holder."
I couldn't believe it. I haven't recently been looking for a D2, and here was one for free. I was excited. I contacted Nick and Sarah Jungels of Champaign. It was still available, so I picked it up on Sunday afternoon.
|Here is the Omega D2 from the Jungels' home. It has the "flying saucer" cold light on top instead of the regular condenser head.|
|The Omega D2 was produced from 1954 to 1979. It is a solidly built enlarger, many parts and accessories remain available today.|
|Included were two enlarging lenses (50 and 80 mm) as well as 3 negative carriers, filters and a nice four blade easel.|
I cannot wait to make some prints with this enlarger! I have a counter that I put inside my downstairs bathroom, converting it into a darkroom. The D2 is four feet tall, and will JUST be short enough to make it without rubbing on the ceiling.
The only item I will need to purchase for this enlarger is a 4" cone to mount my 150 mm 4x5 enlarging lens. The cold light head does not have an adjustment like the variable condenser head to allow for different lenses to be mounted on flat lens boards. No big deal, they are still plenty of lens cones floating around on the internet. I should have one without an issue.
When I look back on my photography career, and realize that almost 25 years have gone by since I started printing, it will be nice to have an "old friend" in the darkroom to print with. I am thankful for Nick and Sarah Jungles, and their generosity in allowing me to make some prints again with an enlarger that I truly enjoy.