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Thread: Wet Plate Portable Darkroom

  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2013
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    Wet Plate Portable Darkroom

    I'm building a portable darkroom out of an old suitcase and am curious if anyone else has tried building their own portable darkroom for wet plate. I'm curious on what people are using as a dark cloth to block light out. Any tips are appreciated!

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Gunnison, CO
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    Re: Wet Plate Portable Darkroom

    I use to have a portable darkroom in the back of my truck but have since moved away from that and now use a Eskimo ice fishing tent. It's pretty light tight right out of the box but there is some work needed to get it up to working order. Here is a video of Borut Peterlin using one in the field. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIelWRTJTFE
    My first set up was a little easier then the tent but I also shot smaller plates than I do now. So, my first set up was built on a 3x6 piece of plywood that was attached to the bed of my truck via sliding rails. I would just open up the topper, drop the tailgate and slide the whole work station out, kick down two 2x4 legs and I was ready. My darkbox was built out of plywood, painted black with one window covered with rubylith. The dark cloth was nothing more than blackout curtains that I bought at Walmart and sewn together. I painted the inside of the curtain (vinyl part) black as they were originally white. I was able to stand and work inside my darkbox and just pull the darkcloth around me and just pinch it closed by pressing my legs against the box. Simple, simple set up, but I got rid of it because I couldn't use my truck for much else. My only tip is to make it easy to set up, use, and break down, otherwise it will become a pain in the butt and you'll eventually not shoot as much. Hope this helps, good luck Jeff

  3. #3
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Wet Plate Portable Darkroom

    A lot of people are using those ice fishing tents these days. My friend has one that I've been in with him, doing WP, and we just taped red gels over the windows. It works great. Gets really hot though in there in the south GA heat.
    Bryan | Blog | YouTube | Instagram
    All comments and thoughtful critique welcome

  4. #4

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    Dec 2015
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    Re: Wet Plate Portable Darkroom

    Quote Originally Posted by Corran View Post
    A lot of people are using those ice fishing tents these days. My friend has one that I've been in with him, doing WP, and we just taped red gels over the windows. It works great. Gets really hot though in there in the south GA heat.
    What do you do for ventilation? Or do you just wear a respirator?

  5. #5

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    May 2013
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    Re: Wet Plate Portable Darkroom

    Great video, thanks for sharing! I thought about going the portable ice fishing route as well at first. But then I was thinking something smaller would be nice to travel with. I'm going to try the suitcase route first and if that doesn't succeed, I might revisit the portable fish house idea. Thanks for the tips though!

  6. #6
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Wet Plate Portable Darkroom

    Quote Originally Posted by Rael View Post
    What do you do for ventilation? Or do you just wear a respirator?
    My friend wore a respirator, I was usually only in there briefly.
    Bryan | Blog | YouTube | Instagram
    All comments and thoughtful critique welcome

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Grand Junction,CO
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    919

    Re: Wet Plate Portable Darkroom

    Here's the box I made, pretty simple to make. Use it on a table or on a tailgate. Folds up into a two foot by four foot by six inches box. Cost about $75 to make.
    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	148169Click image for larger version. 

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  8. #8

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    Jul 2010
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    Singapore
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    Re: Wet Plate Portable Darkroom

    Here is another similar design

  9. #9

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    Sep 2007
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    AZ
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    Re: Wet Plate Portable Darkroom

    The small darkboxes such as what you are making out of a suitcase are very hard to work in. I had one I made out of an old military ammo crate. Yes, they are self contained and portable. But no, they are not fun or easy to use. You have no elbow room, and trying to pour developer and then stop bath on a plate bigger than quarterplate is very difficult. Bigger is better for darkboxes.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Re: Wet Plate Portable Darkroom

    Quote Originally Posted by Rael View Post
    What do you do for ventilation? Or do you just wear a respirator?
    I never used a respirator. The collodion can be poured outside and fixed outside as well. Not a lot of fumes accumulate. But I agree with Corran, it gets wicked hot in there. Find some shade to set it up.

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