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Thread: Contact prints without a darkroom?

  1. #1

    Contact prints without a darkroom?

    Every year I spend 4 days at a large "agricultural fair", compete with pioneer village, rodeo, sawmill, and all sorts of things reminiscent of the early 1900s. Over the past 15 years, I have run steam engines, exhibited the 1/2 scale steam threshing outfit that I built, and last year I took my 4x5 wooden camera, dressed in period clothing, and made like a 1900's photographer. I have to say that doing "old fashioned photography" attracted a LOT of attention from the tourists.

    Unfortunately, the pioneer village does not include a photographer's studio (or darkroom) but I have been thinking of a way to take peoples pictures and offer them a 4x5 contact print later the same day.

    I can load and unload film holders in a dark tent in my motorhome (old school bus) and I can load my Combi-Plan in the dark tent and develop B&W film. I can make a contact printing frame but . . .

    What I haven't figured out is how to expose the contact print without an enlarger (as a light source) and how to develop the paper without a darkroom. I am used to watching prints develop and judging the development time by eye.

    Does anybody have any ideas how I could produce B&W contact prints "in the field"?

    Thanks gang!

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Mar 2001
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    Contact prints without a darkroom?

    You could use POP paper. Expose with sunlight or UV lamp and then tone and fix later. Very beautiful stuff.
    http://www.albumenworks.com/

  3. #3

    Contact prints without a darkroom?

    Erik,

    That's BEAUTIFUL! I love the prints.

    This I will have to study some more!

    Thanks!

  4. #4

    Join Date
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    Contact prints without a darkroom?

    A small light bulb is enough to expose the paper. Either very low wattage or put the thing far away from the paper. 15watts wouldn't be too small. For developing drums. You won't be able to watch the print but light tight drums don't need a darkroom. The same drums often used for colour work.

  5. #5

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    Contact prints without a darkroom?

    As to POP, I just have to add that there is nothing like setting up a few print frames in the sun and then taking a little snooze while they expose! Tough to go back to darkroom work after that.

  6. #6
    Moderator Ralph Barker's Avatar
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    Contact prints without a darkroom?

    How about . . . a Conestoga darkwagon that you could tow behind your school bus? ;-)

    POP is probably the easiest solution, but you could probably do conventional contact prints in the bus by adding black felt curtains to darken the interior. A printing frame, and a small 12v light is all you'd need, well, along with the trays.

  7. #7

    Contact prints without a darkroom?

    Polaroid 56 produces prints that look like they are sepia toned.

  8. #8

    Contact prints without a darkroom?

    The "light bulb in a box" contact printer might be useful. I found a couple on eBay - #3870837518 and #3871515912. Once upon a time, every begining darkroom worker had one of these, until they could afford an enlarger. They show up on eBay often, but are hard to search for, since most people don't know what they are and don't know what to call them. As far as developing your prints, could you use your Combi tank, or get one of the cheaper "daylight" sheetfilm developing tanks? I've heard of doubling the capacity of a Combi by placing sheets of film back to back. Might not work with paper, or give uneven development with paper. Unicolor print drums will work for B&W, but if you want to do a lot of prints at one time you may want something that holds more sheets of 4X5 paper. If you are doing this to make money, you may have to use RC paper for the quick wash time. I don't know if there is a sepia toner that works well with RC to give an "old-timey" look. I see packs of 4X5 and 5" wide roll paper on eBay. I would guess these go pretty cheap, since most people want paper big enough to enlarge on. As far as the POP, I have a feeling the next camera you make will be at least a 5X7 if not 8X10. Then you can use POP for your personal work.

  9. #9

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    Contact prints without a darkroom?

    Those contact printers are designed for contact paper. I've got one and I think it would be too bright with enlarging paper. Maybe I should try it-)

  10. #10
    Ted Harris's Avatar
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    Contact prints without a darkroom?

    As for the light bulb in a box contact printer .... I have one gathering dust (don't ask how many years since it has been used). Send me a note offlist if you want to borrow it ....

    Ted

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