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Thread: Darkness conditions for hand-cutting BW, C41, E6

  1. #1

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    Darkness conditions for hand-cutting BW, C41, E6

    Hello everyone,

    I've searched the forum for some guidance on these somewhat elementary questions, but I couldn't find any definitive answers, so here goes:

    1. How dark does my "darkroom" need to be to safely hand-cut film (by "safely" I mean so as not to cause fogging, ruin the film etc, let alone slice my fingers off)? Can I use a red safelight as I do when printing BW?

    2. Same question but for C41 and E6. I assume no safelight for these.

    I ask because I'm looking into cutting down 8x10 film to 5x8 (just one cut, phew!) but I don't have a "real" darkroom: I print in a basement dark enough to print BW under safelight without any problems, but definitely not 100% dark (light seeps in from ambient light outdoors, from lights on upstairs and so on).

    Thank you for any advice!

  2. #2
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Darkness conditions for hand-cutting BW, C41, E6

    Total darkness.

  3. #3
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Darkness conditions for hand-cutting BW, C41, E6

    Dark, dark, and more dark.

  4. #4

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    Re: Darkness conditions for hand-cutting BW, C41, E6

    Can you image how they manufactured these films in TOTAL blackness? And still do?

  5. #5
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Darkness conditions for hand-cutting BW, C41, E6

    Quote Originally Posted by xkaes View Post
    Can you image how they manufactured these films in TOTAL blackness? And still do?
    Infrared goggles, and also blind persons.
    .

  6. #6

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    Re: Darkness conditions for hand-cutting BW, C41, E6

    When I was a student at The Rochester Institute of Technology in the 1970s, we used to use an automatic feed through film processor. You'd step inside a small "booth", close the door behind you, open up your film, and feed it into the processor. If you turned around and looked at the bottom of the door, you'd see a strip of light coming through. Visually disturbing, but none of that light coming in would directly fall upon the film, and any of it reflected inside the booth was enough to fog film. And we used 2475 film rating it at ASA 1250 or 3,000 (can't remember which).

    Come to a year ago when I finished building my current darkroom, I started to process B&W film and sometimes got a strip of fog on the film. Took me a while to find the light leak. It was on the side of a switch plate which directed the slightest bit of light onto the film as I was loading or unloading it in the film holders. Standing there, the light leak was not to be seen by my eyes, but if I rested the side my head on the counter where the film was, I would immediately see the light leak.

    Yes "total darkness" where the film is being handled. Standing in front to the counter that I use to load and unload film, I can see the indicator lights from 3 power strips, bright dials from 2 GraLab timers, and one or two light leaks in the ceiling, BUT none of the light from any of them falls on my film so no problems.

    In passing... I used to cut film (Whole Plate from 8x10) in a Rialta RV at night. Windows were blocked out as best as possible. Worked the first few times without problems. Then the last time I did that was when another full size RV entered the RV park at night with its high beams on, illuminated the side of my Rialta as he drove by... It was like a moving light show inside the Rialta. Just threw away the film that I was cutting.

  7. #7

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    Re: Darkness conditions for hand-cutting BW, C41, E6

    Used a dark bag.. and you can do it at your kitchen table.
    I've cut 4x5 down to 9x12, 3x4 and MF size, by using a small paper cutter with a fixed edge, that the film rests against. Cut with the emulsion side up, and when setting it to cut, grip the and adjust with the edge your cutting off, or use white darkroom cotton gloves.

  8. #8

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    Re: Darkness conditions for hand-cutting BW, C41, E6

    Quote Originally Posted by Jac@stafford.net View Post
    Infrared goggles, and also blind persons.
    .
    So I guess for IR film, it's just the blind, right?

  9. #9

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    Re: Darkness conditions for hand-cutting BW, C41, E6

    Quote Originally Posted by peter k. View Post
    Used a dark bag.. and you can do it at your kitchen table.
    I've cut 4x5 down to 9x12, 3x4 and MF size, by using a small paper cutter with a fixed edge, that the film rests against. Cut with the emulsion side up, and when setting it to cut, grip the and adjust with the edge your cutting off, or use white darkroom cotton gloves.
    Your bag is a LOT bigger than mine!

  10. #10
    sepiareverb's Avatar
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    Re: Darkness conditions for hand-cutting BW, C41, E6

    I set up a paper cutter with strips of gaff tape at the proper position, cut all the film in one direction, then box it up turn on the lights and set the gaff tape for the other cut. Not too hard, and the paper cutter has a metal bar as a safety guard to help save fingers.

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