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Film Friday: How Markus Hofstaetter uses ‘smart home’ tools to automate his darkroom and studio

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Darkrooms might be considered antiquated relics by much of the photography world, but they don’t have to be. As Markus Hofstaetter details in the above video, modern darkrooms can make the most of modern technology and bring the analog experience into the 21st century through clever automations.

As Hofstaetter details in both the above video and his accompany blog post, he’s crafted a clever automation setup that uses various smart home products to trigger various actions that help him work in his darkroom, both alone and while teaching his darkroom courses.

The most significant of these is an automation that uses door sensors to detect whether or not all the doors to the darkroom are closed. If closed, an LED light outside of his darkroom’s door lights up red to signal that no one should come in. If he opens either his studio or ether room, both of which can be accessed from inside the darkroom, the light outside the darkroom door will turn green to signal it’s safe to enter. This makes it easy for students and guests to know when they should or shouldn’t walk into the darkroom so no wet plates or prints get ruined.

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Once Hofstaetter opens his studio door, an automation is triggered that turns the light outside his darkroom green so guests know they are safe to enter.

Hofstaetter has also set up a water sensor so he’ll be notified if water is overflowing or leaking from the tubs he uses to develop his large format images, as well as an automation that turns out a metronome through a Bluetooth speaker and his Apple Watch so it’s easy to count the seconds pass when developing wet plates and prints.

They might seem rather small and unnecessary for some, but it’s a clever way to merge the new with the old for a more streamlined workflow. You can find out all of the gear he uses and more details about his setup on his blog post detailing his automation techniques.

About Film Fridays: We’ve launched an analog forum and in a continuing effort to promote the fun of the medium, we’ll be sharing film-related content on Fridays, including articles from our friends at 35mmc and KosmoFoto.

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