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Thread: pt/pd light box

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2004
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    La Quinta, CA
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    392

    pt/pd light box

    I just finished trying my first palladium prints, and already I'm hooked. After spending a lot of time researching and reading Dick Arentz's book, I bought the Bostick & Sullivan kit with some Crane's Platinotype paper, dug out some 5 x 7 negatives, and finally tried it. I used sun for exposure and learned a lot from only doing a few prints.

    Immediately, I decided I needed a light box. Mainly, because it's 110 degrees here right now and only being able to expose in the middle of the day has it's drawbacks. So, yesterday, I built a light box with fluorescent lights. Here is where I'm confused. In Dick's book, he indicates that Aquarium tubes are better to use than black light tubes. So that is what I bought down at the home center. However, in looking around the internet and getting some information on home built light boxes, everyone says to use black light tubes (no mention of aquarium tubes). I got on the GE website for information and didn't find a whole lot. What I did find was that both the Aquarium and Black Light tubes put out UV A light in the 315 - 400 nm range, but it didn't say if one put out more than the other.

    So, now I' confused - should I have bought the blacklight tubes instead of the aquarium tubes?

    By the way - this pt/pd printing is way to cool!!!

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Posts
    389

    pt/pd light box

    There is a lot of info on this at APUG. I'm building one, slowly and have BL bulbs

  3. #3
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    North Carolina
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    1,092

    pt/pd light box

    If the aquarium bulbs put out UV-A, they'll work for platinum/palladium, as well as for Azo paper, van Dyke and other silver-based alt processes, chrysotype, cyanotype, and the various dichromate-colloid processes (gum, carbon, etc.), though they might be slower or faster than the BL-B bulbs (which have a shorter wavelength and filtration to remove most of the visible light) for one process or another. The key point, however, is that they *will* work; you'll simply need to calibrate your exposures to the tubes you have. As a side benefit, they'll be a little less prone to damage your vision if you're one who likes to constantly watch the prints for proper exposure; the brightness of the visible light from the aquarium bulbs will keep your pupils small, so your eyes will admit less of the UV that can cause damage. Best of all, of course, is to wear 100% UV absorbent lenses (in goggles, skiing/mountaineering glasses, etc. with side shields, by preference) while working around the light box. Cataracts will really ruin your day if you're a photographer...
    If a contact print at arm's length is too small to see, you need a bigger camera. :D

  4. #4

    pt/pd light box

    The actinic blue aquarium bulbs work extremely well. These are the tubes used for reef aquariums.

    Personally I use 16 - 36" sun tanning bulbs spaced with 1/4" between them and a Metrolux timer.
    I print palladium up to 20"x24" in a vacuum frame made by Edwards Engineered Products.

    They have a great webiste with lots of good information.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    South Carolina
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    5,164

    pt/pd light box

    "Immediately, I decided I needed a light box. Mainly, because it's 110 degrees here right now and only being able to expose in the middle of the day has it's drawbacks. So, yesterday, I built a light box with fluorescent lights. Here is where I'm confused. In Dick's book, he indicates that Aquarium tubes are better to use than black light tubes."

    In the first edition of Dick's book he does say that AQUA and Super Actinic tubes are more efficient than BL tubes in exposing Pt./Pd. Some people may agree with that, but my tests don't indicate it to be a fact. I did the section on UV light sources for the 2nd edition of Dick's book and if you have a look at it you will see that I did some comparison testing which indicates that the BL tubes are at least as efficient, if not slightly more so, than SA and AQUA tubes. However, bear in mind that differnces in efficiency between these tubes is really quite small.

    However, the AQUA, distributed by Voltarc, is a very specific tube, and may not have the same printing characteristics as the aquarium tubes you picked up. In fact, most of the aquarium tubes I have tried put out a lot less actinic light than the AQUA and SA.

    For some general information about different light sources have a look at my article on UV light sources for alternative printing at http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/Light/light.html
    http://www.sandykingphotography.com/
    For discussion and information about carbon transfer please visit the carbon group at Yahoo.
    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/...nTransfer/info

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Posts
    471

    pt/pd light box

    I've used Edwards Engineering light boxes and they work beautifully. But you may want to consider a plate burner. For what you'll pay in materials you can buy a great light source on epay. I picked up a NuArc 26-1k unit for 75.00 there. Granted they go for a little more than that usually but they are a great light source. With a 26-1k you have a 1000 watt mercury exposure system that is run by a very accurate light integrator. This unit also has a vacuum table and it holds your work beautifully. The nicest thing about having a point light source such as this is being able to dodge and burn easier than trying to do so in a light box. I haven't used anything but the plate burner since I got it.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Posts
    471

    pt/pd light box

    If I'm not mistaken there is a picture in Dick's book of him printing with a NuArc 26-1k

  8. #8

    pt/pd light box

    The Ansel Adams signature was amusing at first but it is getting old.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan
    Posts
    35

    pt/pd light box

    I built my light box 2 years ago and use BL tubes. They work well, my normal exposure time is 8-10 minutes which allows for leisurely burning or dodging. A good printing frame is helpful.

  10. #10

    pt/pd light box

    "The Ansel Adams signature was amusing at first but it is getting old."

    I agree, getting old quickly.
    Done and over it................

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