Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11

Thread: Processing black and white film in the field

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    New Delhi India
    Posts
    76

    Processing black and white film in the field

    I'm not sure if this is the correct forum for this...

    I was recently going through a book of photographs that Helene Binet had made of a Jorn Utzon designed house in Mallorca.

    Just to clarify, Helene Binet works with 4x5 and medium format film mostly in b/w. And she mostly photographs architecture. Jorn Utzon was the architect of the Sydney opera house amongst many other well known projects.

    The author, who accompanied Helene, writes about her developing her negatives in a tent while she was on site.
    Here is the exact text:
    "The crucial question after lunch is where to find a shaded corner in order to develop the photos taken in the morning."
    "Helene works on the floor with her compact tent...."

    My question is.... how would one do this?
    The logistics seem very challenging.

    What will fit inside a Photoflex or harrison tent for processing film? The film could be washed in the sink but one would need a dust free space to let them dry.
    And how many negs could one process reasonably in a tent over lunch?

    I counted 62 b/w 4x5 photos in the book. (There are also about 20 colour frames which we can ignore because I dont think its possible to process colour in the field.)
    Let's say that she made 150 photos.

    The books seems to indicate that they were onsite for 5 days.

    So 30 per day. 15 in the morning and 15 in the afternoon.

    How would this work?
    Randhir Singh
    randhirsingh.net

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Suwanee, GA
    Posts
    813

    Re: Processing black and white film in the field

    Quote Originally Posted by bomzi View Post

    How would this work?
    Assuming you have a work space such as back of truck, tent, or camper it would not be that difficult. You just need the supplies. Wet plate photographers even coat their plates in the field.

    After exposure use a changing bag to unload 4x5 sheets or roll film into daylight tanks like the SP445 or a patterson multi reel tank.
    Prepare and keep chemicals in easy pour containers in a water bath you can add ice to or warm up as needed so you get a fairly consistent temperature
    Lots of water for washing/rinsing your film
    Then you will need some method to keep sheet film separated while it drys and a dust free environment. Patterson square tanks hold 12 sheets or dip and dunk hangers would work too.
    roll film you can dry wrapped around a tube or left to hang in a closet hanging bag for a portable drying tent.
    Adventure is worthwhile in itself. ... Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn't be done. -- Amelia Earhart
    http://www.searing.photography

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Posts
    170

    Re: Processing black and white film in the field

    For me the hardest part would be cooling the developer to use at 68F. At the moment cold tap water is about 85F, so if I mix on the spot, I’m going to have pretty warm developer. If it’s premixed, it could easily be a lot warmer.

    The rest is simple. You need a changing bag/tent to move the film from holders to a daylight safe developing tank, but once that is done the rest of the dev process is the same as doing it at home. Drying is certainly something to think through and test. Where I live we have a lot of dust and wind, so I probably wouldn’t just tie a string between two trees to hang the sheets from (we also don’t really have much in the way of trees, so that doubly wouldn’t work.) Depending on the setup it might be reasonable to have a tent (a human tent, not a film changing tent) to use as a drying room, but I’d want to try it out to see how well it works.

    Obviously if you’re shooting ulf and developing in open trays, you’re unlikely to do that in the field. But at least 4x5 has three or four different daylight tank options. Not sure about 5x7 or 8x10.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Posts
    475

    Processing black and white film in the field

    Like others said, a truck/van or RV would be the most practical way. And you donít need it to be light tight.

    You can get a mini fridge to carry the premixed chemicals and water, or bring a sousvide, or some ice, depending on the actual whether conditions.

    Developing b&w can be done even in the field quite easily with tanks or equivalent, for all formats, from 35mm to 8x10. Just get a changing tent to put the film in the tank in daylight.

    Color can also be done but itís a bit harder to be consistent. Of course if you have a van/RV I suppose you can make your Jobo mobile.

    Itís just a question of whether you have access to such a vehicle. If you do is simple as pie. Different question is whether it makes sense to deploy all that, unless you plan on being on the road for at least a week or more covering a large area.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Feb 2021
    Posts
    134

    Re: Processing black and white film in the field

    Quote Originally Posted by abruzzi View Post
    For me the hardest part would be cooling the developer to use at 68F. At the moment cold tap water is about 85F, so if I mix on the spot, I’m going to have pretty warm developer. If it’s premixed, it could easily be a lot warmer.

    The rest is simple. You need a changing bag/tent to move the film from holders to a daylight safe developing tank, but once that is done the rest of the dev process is the same as doing it at home. Drying is certainly something to think through and test. Where I live we have a lot of dust and wind, so I probably wouldn’t just tie a string between two trees to hang the sheets from (we also don’t really have much in the way of trees, so that doubly wouldn’t work.) Depending on the setup it might be reasonable to have a tent (a human tent, not a film changing tent) to use as a drying room, but I’d want to try it out to see how well it works.

    Obviously if you’re shooting ulf and developing in open trays, you’re unlikely to do that in the field. But at least 4x5 has three or four different daylight tank options. Not sure about 5x7 or 8x10.
    The temperature is potentially solved using a "tropical" developer invented precisely to solve the problem of developing in hot environments.
    Regarding daylight developing of 5x7 and 8x10, there are inserts for Jobo 2500 series style tanks that fit 5x7 and 8x10. I have one of the Poilot brand ones that came with inserts for 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10, and it works quite well. I hand roll it during processing, and I've used it on a Jobo before as well (cog lid is compatible). Never used the 4x5 insert, because I have the SP-445 (highly recommended!), but I have been using the 5x7 and 8x10 quite alot lately, and since I don't have a darkroom, I have to load it in a common changing bag. A bit cramped in there, but it's workable; a changing tent would be much more comfortable.
    Stearman also has the tray style 8x10 daylight tank now, and I'm very tempted to get one.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    SooooCal/LA USA
    Posts
    2,367

    Re: Processing black and white film in the field

    I found early on that having a proper darkroom was the greatest "luxury" in photography (as I didn't have my own often)...

    Easiest one was using Pola type 55 exposed at EI 32 made wonderful negs, but problem was how delicate the negs were and needed to be "cleared"... Film was very sticky after pulls, and was like fly paper to dust/debris... Rapid hardening fixer bath, then longish wash got rid of the goo layer... Still sticky while drying and fragile...

    Was given a case of new Diafine stock that was great as temp didn't matter much... Used to travel with a package and a film tank in case I got stuck somewhere for a duration... Was living/working in the Caribbean for intervals of months of a time, so processed if the pile of XPD'ed film got too big... Used to jump tramp cargo ships for a ride between states and islands, and got hung up for a week in a port due to a customs matter, confined to ship, so mixed dev/fixer and processed over a dozen rolls of 120 in the engine room (room was kitchen clean, and just hung film to dry clean)... The crew was very impressed I could do that in there...

    Lived in tiny apartments where there was no room for a lab, but converted bathrooms to film labs... Printing was difficult with Omega B22 enlarger on toilet and 8◊10 trays on shower floor... Adapted unoccupied other apartments left open at night to bring in milk crates with printing gear to work all night and exit before daylight (I called this "guerrilla darkroom")... Room next day was perfectly clean, but might have a slight scent of rapid fixer... A roll of aluminium foil was very helpful to black-out windows...

    Had read that Walker Evans and other FSA photogs had to send in developed results on intervals, and they would develop in motel bathrooms, forcing toilet flush levers open, and would leave developed reel in bottom of toilet as a washer, then dried in shower stall...

    Steve K
    Last edited by LabRat; 25-Jun-2021 at 20:17.

  7. #7
    Foamer
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    South Dakota
    Posts
    2,290

    Re: Processing black and white film in the field

    I do wet plate every weekend in a small dark tent I have in the back of my Subaru Forester. I could process b&w film too. In the dark I would load it into a Stearman Press 445 and from there it can be done in the light.


    Kent in SD
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails PL3.jpg  
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    New Delhi India
    Posts
    76

    Re: Processing black and white film in the field

    Where there is a will, there is a way!!
    I have a Sp-445 and a Photoflex tent. Will test this out to see what problems arise.
    Thanks for all the great advice!

    Randhir
    Randhir Singh
    randhirsingh.net

  9. #9

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    1,670

    Re: Processing black and white film in the field

    Maybe Helen just used a compact tent to change her films? Where do you get and dump the water on the floor with a compact tent? How can we be sure that the author had real knowledge about what Helen was doing?

    With a Jobo expert tank, you don't even need a shaded area. You do need a tent to load them into the tank. You also need plenty of water.

  10. #10
    Tin Can's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    17,393

    Re: Processing black and white film in the field

    I love the toilet wash, great tip!

    Quote Originally Posted by LabRat View Post
    I found early on that having a proper darkroom was the greatest "luxury" in photography (as I didn't have my own often)...


    Had read that Walker Evans and other FSA photogs had to send in developed results on intervals, and they would develop in motel bathrooms, forcing toilet flush levers open, and would leave developed reel in bottom of toilet as a washer, then dried in shower stall...

    Steve K
    image

Similar Threads

  1. Processing old color film in black and white chemicals
    By David Aimone in forum Darkroom: Film, Processing & Printing
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 18-Nov-2010, 12:02
  2. Processing E-6 films into black-and-white negatives
    By BetterSense in forum Darkroom: Film, Processing & Printing
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 22-Apr-2010, 02:10
  3. Black and White neg processing--update?
    By Darin Boville in forum Darkroom: Film, Processing & Printing
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 18-Apr-2010, 11:17
  4. DIY Black & White Processing
    By papergiraffe in forum Darkroom: Film, Processing & Printing
    Replies: 20
    Last Post: 11-Jan-2009, 20:06
  5. Black &White reversal processing
    By David Carney in forum Darkroom: Film, Processing & Printing
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 5-Jul-2000, 16:27

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •