View Full Version : Using a RV as a traveling darkroom

1-Feb-2016, 17:44
We have a Rialta RV (VW Eurovan conversion done by Winnebago, all the facilities but all in a very, very compact RV). Am planning on making a few multi-day photo excursions with it come this summer. Shoot LF & ULF film and want to process some sheets of film while traveling. Blocking out the windows at night no problem. Processing space no problem - plan to use a JOBO processor (Rialta has a 110v inverter to run it). Tray processing takes up a lot of space and uses a lot of water... with the JOBO using reusable Diafine, stop bath, and fixer and Permawash with minimal wash cycles, dealing with a very minimal gray tank capacity of the Rialta is hopefully possible.

Has anyone else out there done similar? Any, really any experiences helpful.

One suggestion was to use stream water to wash the film.
Another to just stop at RV parks and use their endless supply of water... but I like to Boondock at locations for free.
Another suggested overnighting at motels to process the film... but to me just negates traveling in the RV.

thanks in advance


1-Feb-2016, 20:31
Maybe Walter White will chime in.

1-Feb-2016, 21:27
Thanks to the Library of Congress, we have this idea:


1-Feb-2016, 22:19
Is there a way to adapt Ilford wash method (http://www.ilfordphoto.com/assets/20154231237291446.pdf) for sheet film?

Anthony Oresteen
2-Feb-2016, 04:06
Can you stow an extra 5 gal water can somewhere on/in the RV for extra wash water? Can you add a drain tube that lets you dump the wash water on the ground under the RV, thus not filling up your waste tank?

2-Feb-2016, 04:19
I used a couple of trailers and very remote locations to process 5x7 sheets. I have used Jobo drums, and a tray for washing, but now have a Patterson Orbital processor. I use a large changing bag to load the processor, process as normal, and rinse a couple of times and then find some water elsewhere. Most camp grounds have some running water which can be used in successive baths. I also use an alkaline fixer which eliminates the stop bath, and reduces wash time.

Drew Wiley
2-Feb-2016, 09:52
Oh gosh. You all should see the Sprinter "portable ski lodge" a friend of mine rigged up. Indoor as well as outdoor shower, bathroom, four folding bunks, instant
hot water, kitchen with range, roof shooting or napping platform with chrome ladder, everything inside hardwood paneled, and yes, one of those little rooms instantly converts into a film changing closet, then the rear has a flip-up light seal to turn it into a small working darkroom. In a Sprinter of all things, not a
Walter White Winnebago.

2-Feb-2016, 10:06
Is there a way to adapt Ilford wash method (http://www.ilfordphoto.com/assets/20154231237291446.pdf) for sheet film?
That is what I do in my Vinny-tanks. But each change is 5 quarts.

Kirk Gittings
2-Feb-2016, 11:57
Maybe Walter White will chime in.


Drew Wiley
2-Feb-2016, 13:36
So now we know what goes on out there in the desert ....

Kirk Gittings
2-Feb-2016, 13:57
So now we know what goes on out there in the desert ....

while waiting for the "good light" you might as well do something constructive :)

Richard Johnson
2-Feb-2016, 18:43

2-Feb-2016, 19:20
My approach is to ignore the super high overhead of a dedicated mobile darkroom and instead employ a development kit I can use in a motel. Of course my life-mate Molly agrees. She has said, "We evolved for 250,000 years so why should sleep on the ground". Just to give a flavor to the issue. :)

Nodda Duma
3-Feb-2016, 04:59

I was thinking the same thing :)

Drew Wiley
3-Feb-2016, 09:53
pyro addiction?

Drew Wiley
3-Feb-2016, 10:42
... and you know the pyro is good if it's blue.

John Layton
4-Feb-2016, 10:34
...and if your fingernails are black.

4-Feb-2016, 12:27
I have not printed yet but I develop 4x5 and 8x10 in my small pickup truck camper all the time.

I use Jobo daylight tanks with the 2509n reels for 4x5 and the Catlabs CL81 reel for 8x10.

The tanks are rolled on the Jobo rollers by hand.

I use small clips to hang the film from the curtain track that blocks off my over the cab bunk from the rest of the camper.

I lay a couple of beach towels along the edge to absorb the drips from the drying film. I have an overhead cooler/heater that can be run if needed.

I develop and dry film overnight to avoid dust from traveling.

I use my Patterson changing bag to load the reels (as well as my film holders.)

I use one-time shots of D76 and fixer for developing so I don't try to save any of the fluids.

All the fluids including wash water are dumped into a large plastic mixing bowl which is then dumped into an old 5 gallon water jug. This is all dumped when I get back home.

I use 8x10 archival tissue paper to interleave the negatives which are stored in film boxes.

Everything, including my Deardorff and associated equipment, stores in plastic tubs that are in turned stored in the small cabinet at the back of the camper.

It works great and does not require a lot of room. I have a very small counter area where I set my jugs of water, developer, etc. The small kitchen table is used to roll the Jobo tanks. I do use a slightly modified Ilford wash cycle which works quite well.

EDIT - I gave up sleeping on the ground shortly after I quite Boy Scouts. :D

5-Feb-2016, 17:39
As a bonus, maybe you could make the RV light tight and turn it into a big pin hole camera?

Kent in SD

5-Feb-2016, 17:59
As a bonus, maybe you could make the RV light tight and turn it into a big pin hole camera?

Kent in SD

I once visited a photographer's studio where he had a large barrel lens mounted on the darkroom wall facing out to his studio. The darkroom was, in effect, the camera body.

Drew Wiley
9-Feb-2016, 12:51
Several people already have turned RV's into big pinhole cameras. They're a headache to compose with. Gotta find a spot to back up toward the view, then adjust
all the RV levelers. One guy even develops the shot right there, rolling a big light-tight length of irrigation pipe back and forth on the roadway.

9-Feb-2016, 14:07

9-Feb-2016, 17:40
current state of RV probably bit too cold to process film in...


Drew Wiley
12-Feb-2016, 14:08
Yeah, but you could store a lot of film and paper in there compared to a conventional freezer.