View Full Version : Portable Paper Negative Darkroom

01-01-2009, 05:03 PM
I came across this article (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/08/south_asia_old_camera_beats_digital_rivals/html/1.stm)about a long-time street portrait photographer in Bangladesh. The technology of the camera interests me. Contrary to what the article states, I think the camera uses a glass lens with very small aperture, for wide DOF yet shorter exposure time than what pure pinhole can do.

The images in the slideshow reveal the size of the paper negatives to be much smaller than the size of the camera, hence my feelings that this is a portable darkroom. I see a cloth arm sleeve in the rear of the box, and there may be some additional light baffles (cloth curtain with hole, or some sort of labyrinth?) The negative also looks pretty sharp, again indicating a stopped-down glass lens.

One of the image also shows him focusing the front lens, by peering through the back door. Must be a removable ground glass.

I believe the photographer processes the paper negatives in the box right after exposure. Not sure if he even uses fixer for the paper negative processing. I'm assuming he then contact prints the resulting negative straight away, while the negative is still wet, inside the box, and processes the resulting print. He is quoted as being able to turn out a completed print in "five minutes." Perhaps uses a diffuser on the front of the lens as the contact printing light source? The last image of the slide show reveals several objects atop the camera, one of which looks like a diffuser built into a frame, perhaps for contact printing in direct daylight (and then processing inside the box.)

I'm interested in pursuing building a version of this camera/portable darkroom, to experiment in making finished prints out in the field. Will use a glass lens, perhaps variable aperture for various bokeh effects, although a fixed, tiny aperture would make the process more reliable in terms of focus accuracy and repeatably good exposures (in bright light.)

Any thoughts?


01-01-2009, 06:25 PM
This is a really cool idea. I sketched a few ideas that just came to me.

* re-sealable food storage containers for chemistry
* diffuser built into the top for contact prints

Such a contraption would be quite a hit on the streets. Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/scan1_7160.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/scan1_7160.jpg)

01-01-2009, 06:35 PM
g'day Joe

i was also interested in this story and left comments on the original thread

like you i tend to believe the camera is fitted with a small apertured glass lens

the problem i've encountered, using similar equipment and materials for portraiture, is finding the right balance of lighting/aperture/exposure time to get a result other than a stiff, forced pose from the sitter

to build such a contraption, portable camera/processing box is a great concept with many difficulties to overcome, wow what a great project!

01-01-2009, 07:26 PM
I saw one of these cameras in use once. It was during a Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the mall in DC. They had brought over an Indian photographer that had this same camera. But instead of just portraits this guy made combination prints, superimposing his subjects on tourist attraction backgrounds. There was a darkroom inside the camera and he put his arms through sleeves in the side. He used paper to make a negative portrait of his sitters, developed and fixed in camera then pulled the negatives out to wash them in a bucket. After they washed a while he would trim out the figure with scissors and by wet on wet adhesion stick the portrait on a suitable tourist background. I had my portrait montaged with the Taj Mahal. Then he adjusted the camera and flipped up the front of the bed rail to make a copy platform. He placed the combined negative prints on the board and made a second picture on B+W paper again processed in the camera to make a positive. Somewhere around my house I have slides I took of him and his camera plus my Taj Mahal print.

01-01-2009, 09:57 PM
It sounds fun Joe but I don't know if I have the dedication to try and put it together....but somehow I think you of the falling plate camera ilk do ;).

I do remember seeing one that had an amber or red glass in the top that could be used to see inside but that may have been a more modern set up using wet plates.

Keep us updated might be interesting......

01-02-2009, 12:47 PM
Great sketch, Eric; I was thinking of something very similar to yours. Before building one of these from scratch I'll probably first test each portion of the process in the darkroom, especially ensuring I can make good contact prints against a diffuser while the negative is still wet.

Chris and Marv: thanks for the first-hand accounts. I haven't personally seen one of these; except I recall, years ago (late 1970s) seeing these "street" photographers in the Phillipines, but didn't take the time to watch them in operation (I had other priorities at that time!!).

Ray, you're right; in the original article there's one shot of the photographer steadying and positioning the subject's head; I suspect it would take much experience to get a relaxed-looking image that's sharp and distinct. The art of the portrait. Despite their low-tech appearance, these guys are true artists to be able to render good portraits in such a venue with the equipment they work from. It's an inspiration.


And for some reason I forgot about the original thread on this subject, hence the reason why I started this thread. If Tom sees fit he can merge these threads.

01-02-2009, 04:08 PM
I came across this article (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/08/south_asia_old_camera_beats_digital_rivals/html/1.stm)about a long-time street portrait photographer in Bangladesh. The technology of the camera interests me. Contrary to what the article states, I think the camera uses a glass lens with very small aperture, for wide DOF yet shorter exposure time than what pure pinhole can do.
I'm interested in pursuing building a version of this camera/portable darkroom, to experiment in making finished prints out in the field. Will use a glass lens, perhaps variable aperture for various bokeh effects, although a fixed, tiny aperture would make the process more reliable in terms of focus accuracy and repeatably good exposures (in bright light.)

Any thoughts?

No thoughts at all but this camera remembered me immediately of what's called in Brazil the "lambe lambe". Have a look on the following ones and you will understand:
http://images.google.be/imgres?imgurl=http://www.laurie.com.br/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/antigas/20050706-lambe1.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.laurie.com.br/2005/07/&usg=__AXM0nVbRC7NB0cz6Gv9X0CBDBEQ=&h=300&w=400&sz=44&hl=nl&start=5&tbnid=2_-oa9f-uDodUM:&tbnh=93&tbnw=124&prev=/images%3Fq%3DLambe%2BLambe%26as_st%3Dy%26hl%3Dnl%2 6sa%3DG
http://images.google.be/imgres?imgurl=http://img.olhares.com/data/big/72/722241.jpg&imgrefurl=http://olhares.aeiou.pt/lambe_lambe_foto722241.html&usg=__qjr7WA11img3yP2Rt3HiUTfdtcM=&h=750&w=466&sz=77&hl=nl&start=6&tbnid=h5n34ZOgBKbmfM:&tbnh=141&tbnw=88&prev=/images%3Fq%3D%2522Lambe%2BLambe%2522%26as_st%3Dy%2 6hl%3Dnl%26sa%3DG
Or just google for images with the exact name "lambe lambe" and you will probably find what you need.

01-06-2009, 05:34 PM
Taco, thanks for those links. Much more information available.

Well, I've started by looking at the processing part of the project. I found this little plastic cubical stack of plastic drawers at Walmart, costs about $6us, large enough to fit 5" x 7" negatives.

I've marked the bottoms and front of each drawer, using a permanent marker, with the type of chemical in each drawer (helps in the clean-up process to avoid cross-contamination.)

First image shows the drawers empty, second shows the "D" developer drawer pulled out. I've planned on processing the paper top down, so drips don't backwards contaminate the developer. When the drawers are fully extended the overall length is 14"; closed up the cabinet is about 7.5" deep. Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_006a_2893.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_006a_2893.jpg) http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_007a_1843.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_007a_1843.jpg)

01-06-2009, 05:36 PM
Stop bath and fixer drawers pulled out. In actual use the top drawer will be opened first, negative inserted, then the drawer closed up; near the end of processing the stop bath drawer is pulled out all the way, then the developer drawer opened, the negative retrieved, allowed to drip off, and then inserted into the stop drawer. Repeat same process going from stop to fix.

Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_008a_7095.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_008a_7095.jpg) http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_009a_5373.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_009a_5373.jpg)

01-06-2009, 05:37 PM
Drawers filled up with chemical, ready to process several paper negatives exposed today. The second image shows the size of the cabinet relative to a 4"x5" Riteway film holder.

Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_010a_5375.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_010a_5375.jpg) http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_012a_2420.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_012a_2420.jpg)

01-06-2009, 05:41 PM
The drawers can be easily removed from the frame for cleaning, by squeezing the top side walls to release the catch. And the frame, being plastic, easily cleans as well.

I see the finished camera having a removable top plate, so the entire processing cabinet can be removed and inserted with chemicals already in each drawer. Processing will be one-handed, which I was able to achieve today on several negatives I processed. I used a latex glove on my hand instead of tongs, being as how dexterity is much needed when operating blind. I'll have some towels in the box to wipe off my gloves, to avoid backward contamination.

I may also use just developer and fixer, with the third drawer being a water sitting bath. This might help with the backward contamination issue, too.

~Joe Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_014a_610.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_014a_610.jpg)

01-06-2009, 05:49 PM
Taco, thanks for those links. Much more information available.

What I understood in my poor Portuguese from one of the links is that the guys let dry the negative (probably film, with paper the exposure would be to long, even in sunny Brazil) in the sun but then somehow make a contact print on paper inside the camera to achieve the wanted positive. How do you think to fix this one?

01-06-2009, 06:03 PM
I was originally thinking of contact printing by putting a translucent diffuser disc in place of, or over, the lens, then place the sandwich of papers in the box behind the lens at some fixed distance (like the normal film plane location), then point the camera to a sunny scene.

Then I saw one of those links where the camera had a holder in front of the lens (like on an extension of the front rails), that held the still-wet negative to be rephotographed by the camera at a 1:1 reproduction ratio. I'd have to make sure the bellows or nested box focusing has enough extension for a 1:1 repro ratio. This method has the advantage that the camera doesn't have to be re-aimed to a sunny setting, and the negative can be copied while still wet.


01-06-2009, 07:44 PM
What I understood in my poor Portuguese from one of the links is that the guys let dry the negative (probably film, with paper the exposure would be to long, even in sunny Brazil) in the sun but then somehow make a contact print on paper inside the camera to achieve the wanted positive. How do you think to fix this one?

He probably is using paper for the negative. I find my paper is about ISO 8. Following the sunny 16 rule you would need 1/8 sec at f16 or 1/30 sec at f 8. You could easily shot at f 8 outside on a sunny day on paper with a lens camera. Now this wouldn't work was a pinhole "lambe lambe" camera.

01-06-2009, 10:58 PM
There may be more than one way this is commonly done. When I googled "lambe lambe" at Taco's suggestion I did see the method Joe mentioned. If you follow this link: http://tinyurl.com/8j8u78 and scroll down (way down), you can see a paper negative on a folding rail in front of the camera. Looks like at least in this instance, the neg is rephotographed, not contact printed.

Tom Persinger
01-07-2009, 08:40 AM
this is great Joe, thanks!

you might also consider making a smaller version of a collodion style portable darkbox to hold the trays -- even if just large enough to put your hands into (could use an old changing bag to make the appropriate sleeves).... then you could look down through a rubylith -safelight- window and see what your hands are doing.

here's a pic of the box i made for collodion work.... Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/darkbox_7799.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/darkbox_7799.jpg)

01-11-2009, 05:58 PM
maybe you found that already before me but it confirms your system setup. I found it on:

Máquina Caixote

As máquinas são externamente revestidas com couro cru, madeira ou metal. Na parte interna, há um tanque onde são colocados os l*quidos para revelar as fotos. Há ainda a camisa preta, espécie de saco negro dependurado para máquina, com três aberturas: dois orif*cios para os braços e um para enfiar a cabeça, na hora de bater e revelar as fotografias. A função da camisa é proteger as fotografias de qualquer tipo de claridade.

A máquina é usada para tirar fotografias e para mostruário. Suas laterais são cobertas de fotos. É comum chegar um freguês dizendo que precisa de tantas fotografias, cujas dimensões não sabe precisar; nesse caso, o fotógrafo chama-lhe a atenção para o mostruário.

Todo fotógrafo lambe-lambe estende próximo * máquina uma cordinha, onde coloca as fotos para secar. Num balde de plástico contendo água limpa, ela dá banho de água doce nas fotografias, lava-as quando retiradas do fixador e revelador. Uma tesoura é essencial para separar uma fotografia da outra e acertar o tamanho a gosto do freguês. Há ainda um paletó e uma gravata, para serem emprestados aos jovens que não dispõem dessas peças, para tirarem fotografia de carteira de reservista.
Now all we need is a translation with bablefish or something similar :)
P.S.: I like specially the story with the tie 8)

01-11-2009, 06:10 PM
Now all we need is a translation with bablefish or something similar :)
P.S.: I like specially the story with the tie 8)
And the wrighter of this article forgot the most imortant: The date stamps that every decent lambe lambe has with him because they are/where needed for the passport. Here an example of my wife (don't laugh, stay serious :)

Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/wally_2633.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/wally_2633.jpg)

01-11-2009, 09:44 PM
This thread has peaked my interest quite a bit, joined to post and not just lurk. After some quality time with Google I have a thought....

Lets take the darkbox (pictured above) gaffer tape Joe's 5"x7" Format Nested Box Camera (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/Blah.pl?m-1213038591/) to it and use Paper Positives (http://www.freestylephoto.biz/sc_prod.php?cat_id=&pid=1000002923) and this method of Concurrent Light Addition** (http://photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=0004Fi) to help with exposure. Use LEDs (UV?) instead of incandescent lights as mentioned in the photo.net post.

All my digital camera friends think I am slightly nuts to shoot and develop film.

**... a camera that had tiny incandescent lamps in the body that shined low level light on the film during image exposure to effectively increase film speed more effectively than pre or post fogging. It was claimed to gain up to two stops of shadow speed with normal development ie, no pushing. The light level was not high enough to fog the film by itself.

01-11-2009, 10:09 PM
First, welcome to F295, Michael. I hope you post many more times, including some images you've created.

Thank you for your suggestions. As I've worked with the Efke direct positive paper, I've thought about using it for a portable portrait setup. I may go ahead and pursue that idea, but I'd also like to work with paper negatives, since I've gained much more experience with them, and find the results more flexible and generally better than the direct positive paper. Although there's the extra step of printing the negatives.

As for the camera portion of this setup, I'm still deciding whether to combine a camera onto one end of the processing box, or use a detached camera and process the negatives in a seperate box. I could use my Speed Graphic 4x5, for instance, and easily load/unload the film holders in the processing box.

I also have a Polaroid model 800 camera that I've loaded with paper negatives (one sheet at a time, taped to the inside) and its shutter works fine with paper negative exposures in direct sunlight as well as shaded daylight. It takes a bit more room to load and unload the Polaroid, since the back hinges open and there's an inner plate that folds out the other way, but I could design the processing box with sufficient room to use this camera. Either camera would work well for this application, although the Graflex is more flexible, since I can change lenses and the curtain shutter has more speed options.

I also need to test my paper negative media with Ruby-lith red filter material, to see if it really makes for a light-safe viewing window. Although I've initially planned on having to work in the processing box blind, it would make things much easier if I can peer inside.

Thanks for all your good suggestions.


P.S. -- Taco, thanks for the post. I like the texture of that passport photo; too bad we can't get paper like that these days. I may see about translating your link in BabbleFish; I believe Brazil's national language is Portuguese, no?

01-11-2009, 11:54 PM
Here's the BabelFish translation from Taco's link, Portuguese to English:

"It has two types of photographer working in the areas of leisure in São Paulo. One is the figure conhecid*ssima lick-licks of it and to another one it is of the young photographer who walks of a side for another one, loading two or more machines tiracolo. Lick-it licks it has fixed point to photograph; it has license to work in areas established for the city hall. The other is a ambulant photographer who works where he wants, in the weekends and the festive days, to get an extra profit. The work of both is folclórico, therefore it elapses of spontaneous learning. The sales and the promotion of its services elapse of the experience of life, acquired in day-by-day. Lick-you lick them are pensioners without professional qualification, descendants of Italians and Spaniard. The ones that works with modern machines proceed from some states of Brazil; it has predominance of miners, northerners and northeasterns. They work as wage-earning laborers; in the holiday and weekends they photograph house servants, couples of boyfriends and children who costumam to take a walk in public areas. Some also take care of called the domicile, to photograph baptized, anniversary, engagement and marriage. The ten lick-you lick that they work in the public areas in São Paulo do not like if identifying nor of speaking on the profession. They are carrancudos, esquivos men to the dialogue. Youngest (cinquenta years) and less reserved than I found was Ângelo Morales, the term lick-licks comes from the old custom to place chapinha of glass, that contained the format of the photograph to be beaten, between the lips, in way that the photographer, in the hour to beat the photograph, recognized back verse easily and. It affirms that it was necessary to make this test, because the plate was and still it is placed in the machine with the onward sensible side of the person who goes to be photographed. Today it is used rigid plastic plate, for photographs; to recognize avesso and front it is alone to place the thumb on chapinha. The emulsified side landmark the finger. In this manner, the photographer prevents to beat wrong photographs. Ângelo counts that by 1930 return the 1940, the Garden of the Station of the Light and the Dom Park Peter II, were frequented by rich young women of the São Paulo Avenue and Europe Garden. Today, it says: " Of the people of it only are, quaint people, at the times, I arrive to have fear to work for these bands (Garden of the Station of the Light), therefore has a terrible swing here; namora people that, that she touches violão and she sings underneath of the trees, jettison in the lawn or on the banquinhos. Others bring children and animals to play and to take a walk. It has street vendors that they vendem of everything, making one would cry out of the devils. But the problem is that we were forgotten, since that had appeared the young with the modern photographic machines and the store. The store, these yes, are our competitors and take off the bread of the mouth of people. They had been whom they had eliminated lick-licks with it, can crer". Although the competitors, are looked to photograph fiancés before going to the church and even though to make all the photographs of the marriage. As he explains, has a position certain to fix the machine-caixote in a park; an area or angle is fixed in, taking themselves in account the position of the sun, the landscape, the transit and the circulation of pedestrians and cars. Chosen the place, it is mounted machine on a tripod and it she is ready to photograph. The machine lick-you lick of them is known between them for machine-caixote, for being similar to small caixote. Caixote machine The machines external are coated with raw leather, wood or metal. In the internal part, it has a tank where the liquids are placed to disclose the photos. It still has the black shirt, species of hung black bag for machine, with three openings: two orifices for the arms and one to thread the head, in the hour to beat and to disclose photographs. The function of the shirt is to protect photographs of any type of clarity. The machine is used to take off photographs and for sample. Its laterals are covered of photos. It is common to arrive a customer saying that it needs as many photographs, whose dimensions do not know to need; in this in case that, the photographer calls it to it attention for the sample. All photographer lick-licks extends next to machine one cordinha, where he places the photos to dry. In a plastic bucket I contend clean water, it of the water bath candy in photographs, washes when removed them of the clamp and revealer. A shears is essential to separate a photograph of the other and to make right the size the taste of the customer. It still has a coat and a necktie, to be loaned to the young that does not make use of these parts, to take off reservist wallet photograph. Customer The customers of the ambulant photographers are people humble or proceeding from the provincial cities. The house servants are distinguished, elements of the laboring classroom, living of the suburbs that if find in São Paulo the stroll or search of work. Counted Estória for Ângelo Morales It has a century, a laborer who worked in a mine of silver, France, heated its metal pan every day, in the hour of the lunch more than and, after that it took, it for it are on a board. It liked to lunch seated on a great rock, to contemplate the sky and the landscape. One day, noticed that the board that used to carry the hot metal pan had two different colors. The space that was free was black and where it remained the metal pan if it had conserved white. It was surprised at the discovery and it started to notice the boards that were inside of the mine and what it happened when they were displayed to the natural light. Uneasy with the discovery, it started to count its comment also has many people and to some druggists and chemistries of the place. He was advised to read chemistry books that explained the phenomenon, and discovered, thus, that a chemical product existed that fixes the white color and the black color. Thus, Ângelo Morales says, a laborer to call Lumier made the world to know the photograph, contributing so that a new profession appeared. Anecdote of photographer In 1940, a photographer gave beginning to the profession of lick-licks, after having worked very to buy a machine-caixote. He received when it, he caught it and he was immediately to the Dom Park Peter II. There he prepared the machine, he placed the chair to the front and started to walk cantarolando for low e for top. Suddenly, he very appeared one well worn gentleman and he said to it: " Young man, necessary that he takes off my picture, but sees there, has that to be very pretty, therefore I go to offer it one to it dama". It was the first time that the coitado one went to beat a photograph and was emocionad*ssimo. Its hands trembled, its voice did not leave, the sweat went down of its face, the breath became difficult, to each minute that passed. With effort, it asked for to the customer, who if seated, arranged the coat and the necktie, while it prepared the machine. It moved, it rummaged, it placed the machine in some positions, but in they go. It did not obtain to fit the customer, in the machine. Despaired, it arrived and said: " He forgives, its doctor, you is great excessively, does not fit entire in mine máquina". Propaganda and sales The ambulant photographers, to arrange customers, need much astuteness. The competition between them is great e, beyond it, has that to face the competition of the amateur photographers. To call the attention the passer-bys, the photographers display photographs in twigs of trees, moored ropes the improvised props, tents, the laterals of the machines-caixote, the soil and even in the buttons of the proper clothes. He enters the techniques of joined sales and of promotion they are distinguished it of the monóculos. He has p
hotographers that they moor a row of monóculos in the buttons of the shirt and leave to offer ready photographs already or using them as sample. One another one very used technique is that one to apply photographs of people and landscapes on white cardboard piece, of approximately cinquenta centimeters for forty. These posters are fixed to a displayed tripod in well visible angles. On the posters they are ranks mirrors, so that the interested parties if comb and if they arrange. It is common also to find in the posters the prices of photographs displayed there, as well as where to find the photographer. In the Park of the Ipiranga it has two tents seted in the next area to the Museum; there felt hats are displayed, of cattle tender, plastic guns, empty cartucheiras, cinturões of leather, door-pictures with photographs of personalities of the artistic world. This material is for being vendido or used by the customers whom they desire to be photographed dresses in the style of cattle. The photographers walk between the passer-bys, in order to offer its préstimos, to promote and to venderem door-pictures and ready photographs already. During these contacts, they offer to services the domicile and they go distributing promocionais brochures. While they walk they say: " He looks at the photo. Who goes to make photograph? It looks at the photograph! The young man works and baratinho well! He looks at the photograph to order for the namorada one! "

01-12-2009, 11:06 AM
Both amusing and informative. Thank you, Joe.

01-12-2009, 05:24 PM
Both amusing and informative. Thank you, Joe.
That's Babelfish :)
All I could make from it was that "lick-lick" means Lambe Lambe. For the rest:
I once was on a very interesting ITALIAN site about the old Belgian Gevaert company and the translation for PAN film was BREAD film !!!!!

01-13-2009, 04:16 AM
So, when (or if?) I finish this project, do I paint the words "Lick Lick" on the side? Me thinks not; someone might think I'm an ice cream vendor (or, depending on what part of town I go to, worse.) :)

Mobile processing box? Portable darkroom? I'm still not sure of the terminology. But not "Lick Lick."

I like this part:
"...the term lick-licks comes from the old custom to place chapinha of glass, that contained the format of the photograph to be beaten, between the lips, in way that the photographer, in the hour to beat the photograph, recognized back verse easily and. It affirms that it was necessary to make this test, because the plate was and still it is placed in the machine with the onward sensible side of the person who goes to be photographed. Today it is used rigid plastic plate, for photographs; to recognize avesso and front it is alone to place the thumb on chapinha. The emulsified side landmark the finger."

If I understand correctly, in the glass plate days the photographer could tell the emulsion side by licking it?
but now with plastic film one's finger can be used.

I'll stick with trimming one corner off the paper negatives, to denote the emulsion side, as is done with the notch codes on cut film.

Yesterday I visited the hardware store, bought some 5mm Luann panelling and 3/4" square hardwood sticks to make a wood-paneled, frame-supported box. I may cut the sleeves off my smaller (but newer) changing bag. But I also saw in the original link they used cutoff pants legs from (apparently) denim jeans. Maybe go that route and line the sleeves with black fabric from the sewing store?

I just hate the thought of cutting apart a functional changing bag!

More updates later.


01-13-2009, 09:33 AM
I just hate the thought of cutting apart a functional changing bag!

I've heard stories of people doing such things to cameras, if you can imagine that! :)

01-13-2009, 02:34 PM
So, when (or if?) I finish this project, do I paint the words "Lick Lick" on the side? Me thinks not; someone might think I'm an ice cream vendor (or, depending on what part of town I go to, worse.) :)
Why not? Remember: you need a bucket of "water bath candy" :)

01-14-2009, 01:49 AM
Well, I started putting together the wooden frame that will eventually be the processing box. I'm using 3/4" square poplar sticks, from Lowe's Hardware store. The box will be sheathed in Luann thin plywood.

I'm prototyping several shapes and layout options for the box. The best layout I've found so far has the box dimensions at about 18.5" square on the base, and a height of around 12". Two arm sleeves protrude from holes on the front side of the box. The processing drawer shelves will be located centered against the wall opposite the arm holes, with the drawers pulling towards the arm holes. To the left and right of the drawer shelves will be light-tight boxes for storing exposed and unexposed paper. These storage boxes, and the processing drawers, take up the rear half of the box.

The space nearest the arm holes, about half the available area when the drawers are closed, will be for loading and unloading film holders and the Polaroid model 800 camera. Access to the box will be via the roof lid, which will remove, have latches, and a light trap.

To keep chemicals from sloshing around and getting on the front "dry" side where the camera or film holder will be, I'll attach a vertical shield plate to the lowest drawer (the fixer drawer); this plate extends upward enough to shield all 3 drawers. When processing is ready the lower fixer drawer is pulled out, then the upper two drawers can also be pulled out. Then processing commences from the top developer drawer. When the paper is removed from the top drawer, the other hand is used to push the top drawer back in, revealing the middle stop bath drawer. When processing is done in the middle drawer, the paper is removed with one hand and the drawer closed with the other, then the negative is placed in the bottom fixer drawer. After the processing is completed in the fixer drawer then I wipe my hands with a cloth and remove my arms from the sleeves, then unlatch the top lid and remove the negative from the fixer drawer and place it directly into an external water rinse container.

At least, that's the plan, until the plan changes. :)

More later.


01-26-2009, 09:40 AM
Just a bit of progress on the project, and more research into the lambe lambe style of street photography. Incidentally, living in New Mexico and having a rudimentary exposure to Spanish, I know the term "lambe" also has a derogatory usage, probably deriving from the term "to lick". There's some evidence for this, as I did a Flickr search for "lambe lambe" and found things other than photography-related. :)

I have a wooden frame built, made from 3/4" square poplar sticks, forming a box 19" square and 12" high. This is different in shape from most lambe lambe setups I've seen pictures of, but that's for a reason. I plan on using my Speed Graphic and Polaroid model 800 as stand-alone, unmodified cameras, then load the film holder (or in the case of the Polaroid the entire camera) into the box, where the paper negative is retrieved and processed. This box is big enough to open the Polaroid and extract/reload the paper negative.

I'm currently working on the arm sleeves, which, from pictures I've seen, appear in most cases to be made from the legs of old denim jeans. I've done some testing and it appears a double thickness of denim may be light tight enough for this purpose, so I've going down to the thrift store today to find several pair to cut up. A large elastic rubber band around the cuff of the leg suffices for the arm sleeve elastic, in the photos I've studied.

Other observations from searching Flickr's database of images:

This picture (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ana_lira/1782725772/)shows how the photographer uses a small hand mirror, placed against the front of the lens, to help align the camera to the subject when there's not a good viewfinder or viewscreen to use. I supposed the subject tells the photographer when he can see himself properly centered in the mirror. Neat idea.

This (http://www.flickr.com/photos/edmarmoreira/2979920673/)picture, this (http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulocaramico/2574617318/)picture and this (http://www.flickr.com/photos/eduardo_dacosta/2617545549/)picture show the front bracket used for optically copying the negative into a positive print. So this is one way it's done. With my Speed Graphic, the 150mm binocular lens would make a good portrait lens stopped down, while an old 78mm enlarger lens appears to be able to reproduce the 4x5 negative image on the ground glass with the bellows extended nearly all the way out, so this may serve as the copying lens.

There were other images on Flickr where no front copy bracket was evident, such as this (http://www.flickr.com/photos/gracielaperetti/3058957986/), this (http://www.flickr.com/photos/buratto/3046356343/)and this (http://www.flickr.com/photos/buratto/3046356069/in/photostream/), where it appears a contact printing frame sits on top of the box.

There's also this (http://www.flickr.com/photos/buratto/3047189026/)image, showing a close up of a paper negative, and what appears to be a contact printing frame on the right.

Many of these street photographers also employ an assistant (http://www.flickr.com/photos/luizger/1000536635/), who holds a background card or cloth behind the subject while the picture is made. There were also others who use outdoor statuary or other monuments as backgrounds.

I find it important to document these photographers, their equipment and methods, as it appears to be a dying technology. I just wish I understood the language better in the articles I've come across.


01-26-2009, 06:03 PM
You did a great research job, Joe. Thank You

01-27-2009, 10:48 AM
I did a test of blue jean denim used as arm sleeves. It was obvious, looking through a single thickness of denim, that it isn't light tight. So I tried testing a double thickness. Using an old pair of my grandson's bluejeans, I inserted one leg into the other, then rubber banded one end shut. I placed a 4"x5" paper negative inside the doubled up legs, rubber banded the other end shut, and placed outside in direct sunlight for 25 minutes, after which I developed for 10 minutes.

The results, attached here, show that there is some fogging through a double thickness of denim.

Yesterday I went to a cloth store, found some black vinyl fabric that appeared opaque, until I took it home and tested it with a mini-flashlight, only to find it not opaque. Well, it was only $5 per yard. I doubled it up, however, and then it does appear opaque, but the material may be too thick. I'll try using a hot glue gun to seam the material together this way, then cover the seam with a strip of gaffer's tape, which is light tight. This may be better than trying to sew the material, especially given my lack of sewing talents and sewing machine.

I may end up buying some darkroom blackout material from Freestyle's website.

The project continues...

~Joe Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/bluejeanstest001a_9731.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/bluejeanstest001a_9731.jpg)

01-27-2009, 05:11 PM

Most fabric stores* sell a blackout fabric. Weird, its actually white in color but one layer of that inside your blue jean legs should be enough. It's got a rubbery coating on one side but the fabric side takes paint quite well, I've used it to seal light leaks in darkrooms and as the inner lining for bellows, painted black.

*update: I was thinking Joann fabrics so I checked and they say you've got 3 in Albuquirky. :-)


01-27-2009, 06:01 PM
Joe, how about putting a black plastic layer between the two layers of denim. A heavy duty trash bag or black construction plastic.

Tom Persinger
01-27-2009, 11:11 PM
you might also try to use two layers joe... black fabric on the outside and red on the inside... the red fabric, at least for collodion work, filters the light to be effectively safe for the short time the silver nitrate coated plate is outside the holder or the bath.....

01-28-2009, 08:45 AM
Thanks for all the suggestions, folks. I went ahead and tried doubling up the black vinyl material, so here are some build pictures.

The arm sleeves are two layers of material, with the black vinyl on the inside and the white fuzzy liner material on the outside. I used a hot glue gun to seam the edges together into a tube, then reinforced on the inside with a strip of black gaffer's tape.

This first image shows the edge of one of these sleeves, which has four splits cut into it, for installation into the gasket and ring assembly.

Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_009a_4293.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_009a_4293.jpg)

01-28-2009, 08:49 AM
Next I cut the plywood panel to fit the sides of the box, and cut out two arm holes, using a cutting bit in a Dremel moto-tool. I also cut two plywood gasket rings, and used black craft foam as a gasket material.

This image shows the side panel that will mount onto the box, from the inside surface. One arm sleeve has been installed using the gasket and ring; the other awaits install. You can also see the splits in the end of the arm sleeve are used to wrap under the gasket and ring.
Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_011a_7260.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_011a_7260.jpg)

01-28-2009, 08:50 AM
Closeup of the gasket and flange ring. Again, I used a cutting bit in a Dremel moto-tool (okay, for accuracy's sake it was a Great Northern brand Dremel look-alike, purchased at Auto Zone for $10, but all the Dremel accessories fit, including the plunge router attachment, which I used to cut these rings.)

Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_012a_1361.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_012a_1361.jpg)

01-28-2009, 08:52 AM
Closeup of the arm sleeve installed under the flange and gasket. I hot glued the excess from the arm sleeve, and in a later shot applied a ring of hot glue all around the edges of the ring and gasket, which will then be painted black (the glue is clear.)

Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_016a_574.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_016a_574.jpg)

01-28-2009, 08:54 AM
I decided that the excess length of machine screws used to mount the rings could be used for mounting a baffle, which is made from a double thickness of the same arm sleeve material, taped with gaffer's tape and split into fours, permitting an extra degree of light tightness.

Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_017a_1338.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_017a_1338.jpg)

01-28-2009, 08:55 AM
Both baffles installed on the arm sleeve mounting rings. Excess hot glue has been applied around the edges of the rings and gaskets.

Also seen in the background are hints of the secret mad scientist laboratory, seldom seen by the public. Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_018a_4710.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_018a_4710.jpg)

01-28-2009, 08:56 AM
The claw!

More build pictures to follow as the project progresses.

~Joe Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_020a_9678.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_020a_9678.jpg)

01-28-2009, 07:42 PM
Fritz Von Erich Lives!

01-28-2009, 08:18 PM
More progress today. I work a compressed work week, shift work in a factory, and I get long weekends (and commensurate long work days, too.) Today was the last day of my long weekend, so I spent the day on this project.

First image shows the floor of the box, with the bracing sticks in place.

Second image shows the 1/4-20 blind nut in place.

Third image shows the blind nut subsequently glued in place and covered with a piece of plywood.
Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_028a_8599.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_028a_8599.jpg) http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_029a_6077.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_029a_6077.jpg) http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_030a_9555.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_030a_9555.jpg)

01-28-2009, 08:20 PM
First image, bottom of box, showing the numerous countersunk brass screws, and the tripod nut hole in the center.

Second image shows the side and back panel glued and screwed in place.

Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_031a_5389.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_031a_5389.jpg) http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_032a_3824.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_032a_3824.jpg)

01-28-2009, 08:21 PM
Next image shows a mockup of the developing trays and Polaroid Model 800 in place.

Last image shows detail of the light trap on the top lid.

~Joe Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_034a_2983.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_034a_2983.jpg) http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_036a_5720.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_036a_5720.jpg)

02-02-2009, 05:10 PM
I have the Lambe Lambe box in a state where it's light-tight and the interior is painted black. I've yet to finish the exterior, so now it's bare wood.

I did a test today in my sunny, south-facing courtyard. Beautiful winter day, temp in the mid-50s and dry (as usual in the desert SW.)

I placed the box on my patio table, in direct sun. The arms were on the north side of the box. I filled the trays with freshly mixed chemicals, Ilford liquid paper developer diluted 1:10 and just plain water for stop bath, plus fresh Kodak fixer diluted 1:7.

For a paper negative storage box I simply used an older cardboard 4x5 pinhole box camera. I precut the grade 2, 4" x 5" paper negatives in the darkroom, preflashed my usual amount.

For the negative I loaded it into the Polaroid Model 800 camera, in the storage box, out "in the field" of my courtyard. No problems were experienced, just maneuvering the chemical tray box around to get enough room to load/unload the Polaroid. I placed the chemical tray box in a wider, shallow plastic tray to catch splashes from prematurely staining the box's interior. The negative was simply placed face down over the Polaroid camera film gate, and the interior pressure plate of the camera holds it nice and snug. The procedure I used for loading is to place the negative, removed from the storage box, on top of the chemical tray box (which I keep dry with a paper towel), then close up the film storage box, and then load the negative into the camera. Then I can pull my arms out of the sleeve and remove the camera.

I set the Polaroid onto my Bogen tripod, set the focus distance to minimum distance of 3.5 feet (it has an accurate focusing scale, which is real handy, plus a rangefinder focuser.) I sat in direct sun, with the shaded side of my courtyard behind me. I couldn't directly reach the shutter button of the Polaroid (it doesn't take a standard release cable) so I used a wooden yard stick to trip the shutter. You can see this in the attached images.

For the exposure I metered my hand at EI=3, and set the Polaroid's shutter to the "#10" setting, which equates to f/8.8 @ 1/12 second. I processed the negative in the box with no problems. I was actually excited to see the resulting image once it had been fixed enough to permit removing my arms from the sleeves and opening the box. That lens on the Polaroid is really sharp, and at f/8.8 has great bokeh.

I let the negative soak for several minutes in a container of water, then set it, still wet, onto a plastic clipboard in the sun, and reshot it using my Speed Graphic with 127mm Ektar lens set to f/8. I used the curtain shutter, timed at 1/10 second. The exposure was metered using my Gossen Luna Pro F meter, reflective mode, pointed at the sun-lit negative. I gave it +1 stop more exposure than recommended. The bellows was extended almost all the way out to get the negative in focus, which was about a foot away from the lens. Processing of the print was no problem. Obviously I used a Riteway cut film holder instead of the Polaroid, so loading and unloading in the box was a bit roomier.

The resulting copy print is obviously lower in contrast, due to the fact that I'm using grade 2 paper. In actual practice I may end up using either multigrade paper for the print, or a higher contrast graded paper.

There are also some stains and blotches on the print that aren't on the negative, probably because the negative was still wet when I copied it.


Attached images: 1st image is the negative scanned, no manipulation. 2nd image is the scanned negative inverted and flipped in PS, no other manipulation done. 3rd image is the copy print scanned, no manipulation. Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/joe005a_9907.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/joe005a_9907.jpg) http://f295.f295.org/uploads/joe005b_4933.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/joe005b_4933.jpg) http://f295.f295.org/uploads/joe006a_9988.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/joe006a_9988.jpg)

02-02-2009, 05:41 PM
Great progress. Very good documentation of your work. Wow, I like your Lambe Lambe Box. Now you can quit your job and work als street photographer. :)

02-02-2009, 06:49 PM
Now you can quit your job and work als street photographer.

Well, I won't purposely quit my day job to do street portraits, but I have that to fall back on, should the economy worsen. ;)

I have to think now about how to quickly dry the prints. I suppose I'll just squeegee them and sun dry for a few minutes. I don't plan on having access to electricity for running a hair dryer. I need to look at getting a bulk supply of cardboard portrait picture holders, to enclose each finished print.

To do this legitimately, I'd get a business license and a peddlers permit, so I can do business on the sidewalk without legal hassle. I may start out doing renaissance fairs and maybe outdoor craft shows. There's also a weekend flea market that meets at the State Fairgrounds, I'd have to rent a space of course. I also work Saturdays at the factory, so this would be a Sunday-only activity.

I suppose my next victims will be family members, to get practice at taking other's portraits. I have enough self-portraits now.;)


02-03-2009, 01:59 PM
This morning I set up the Polaroid Model 800 on the tripod in the backyard, to capture morning light. Again using Freestyle's Arista grade 2 RC paper, preflashed, I exposed this portrait at the "#10" setting on the shutter, which equates to F8.8 @ 1/12s. I used a sheet of white corrogated plastic to reflect some light into the shadows.

Development was again in the processing box, same chemistry as the previous pictures. I rinsed the negative in a plastic tray of water for a few minutes, then squeegeed on a plastic clipboard and let dry in the sun. The chemistry was cold, so I think that's why the negative is a bit thin. I need to use the sunlight to heat up my chemistry when out "in the field."

I used the rangefinder focuser of the Polaroid camera on this portrait; I think I missed proper focus on the face. Yesterday's self-portrait was sharper, where I had simply used the distance focusing scale instead of the rangefinder. Perhaps the rangefinder needs calibration.

For the print I used Ilford's pearl finish MG-RC warmtone paper, loaded in a Riteway holder and using my Speed Graphic with 127mm Ektar lens for copying the negative. I experimented with a bracket extending out from under the camera to support the negative, with camera on tripod. This needs more work. I didn't use any filtration on the Speed Graphic, hoping that the color of the ambient light would render sufficient contrast. I think the contrast is okay, but the negative is a bit thin so the print's shadows are dark.

I over-exposed the print 3 stops from the meter's recommendation, to compensate for bellows extension and to get richer shadows in the print.

Attached image is a straight scan of the negative, no additional manipulation.

~Joe Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/andie001a_9564.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/andie001a_9564.jpg)

02-03-2009, 02:01 PM
This image is a PS invert and flip of the original in-camera negative.

~Joe Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/andie001b_364.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/andie001b_364.jpg)

02-03-2009, 02:04 PM
And the scan of the copy print, on Ilford MG RC warmtone pearl finish. The Speed Graphic with extension bracket to hold the negative were placed in direct sun, coming from ~45 degrees from the right. I metered the negative close-in using my hand held meter set to EI=3, but over-exposed about 3 stops on purpose, to compensate for bellows extension and just because.

I still need to finish some details in the processing box, and get the bracket finished for doing copy prints using the Speed Graphic.

I'm also thinking about a contact printing frame for doing contact prints. I'd have to thoroughly dry the paper negative, first. This may end up being a more reliable and higher quality way of doing prints. And I wouldn't have to mess with two cameras.

I also have to get my chemical handling down, and transporting and setup of the whole kit.

~Joe Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/andie002a_9120.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/andie002a_9120.jpg)

02-03-2009, 04:47 PM

This project is really coming along. I can't wait to see how the public reacts.

The chemistry was cold, so I think that's why the negative is a bit thin. I need to use the sunlight to heat up my chemistry when out "in the field."

And in the summer on the street it's going to be quite warm. That should keep things interesting. :-)


02-03-2009, 06:03 PM
- - -I have to think now about how to quickly dry the prints- - -
Interesting question. What should dry quicker: a glossy paper well squeegeed or a mat paper? Purely theoretically a mat paper has -microscopically seen- a bigger surface and I know from my printing ink business that mat surfaces dry quicker than glossy surfaces. Would that also apply to paper negatives ?

02-10-2009, 11:43 PM
Good question, Taco. I have a box of the Ilford pearl finish because I think it looks good for portraits, so I intend on using it for that reason. If it ends up drying faster, then that's good. In the normally arid climate here in New Mexico, air drying in the sun is pretty quick.

More images of the box in its near finished state. 1st image shows the box sitting on my bench, lid attached. You can see the attached brass handle (one on each side), the arm sleeves on the right, and the black knobs on top to secure the lid. The finish is just polyurethane varnish.

2nd image looking down into the open box. I have a sheet of corroplast laid down to catch chemical drips from soaking into the wood; the plastic liner is removable and cleans up easy. The tray compartment is installed. The space to the left and right of the tray compartment is for storing film boxes and possibly several small bottles of chemical.

In the upper right and lower left corners you can see the diagonal braces which are used to support the brass 1/4-20 bolts used to secure the lid. Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_102a_4234.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_102a_4234.jpg) http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_105a_1661.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_105a_1661.jpg)

02-10-2009, 11:48 PM
Close up of the lid bolts. In the 1st image can be seen the top edge of the box which is covered in adhesive craft felt, used as a light-tight gasket.

2nd image shows the lid attached but the knobs not yet secured. These 1/4-20 threaded knobs were from Lowe's hardware store. I've since installed a set of round, donut-shaped gaskets of adhesive craft felt around the bolt holes in the lid, to help ensure no light leaks. Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_080a_8810.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_080a_8810.jpg) http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_060a_8689.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_060a_8689.jpg)

02-10-2009, 11:50 PM
Lastly (for now) is a shot of the lid with knobs secured. You can also see one of the brass handles.

Now to wait for better weather (we've had a smattering of sleet, rain and snow, badly needed moisture) until I can try the setup out on location.

Incidentally, there's enough extra room in the box (due to making room for the Polaroid Model 800 camera to open properly) that I could conceivably build a 5" x 7" pinhole camera into the box. The chemical trays will barely fit the 5x7 size, and there's enough room on either side of the chemical tray cabinet for an interior camera enclosure on one side, with pinhole mounted in the side of the box, and an external shutter.

Or, if I were to find and cannibalize an old bellows camera I could build that into one side, like many of the Lambe Lambe cameras seen on the web. For now, however, I'm going to use the box strictly for processing, and use a seperate camera on its own tripod.

More later.

~Joe Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_007a_8998.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_007a_8998.jpg)

02-11-2009, 07:14 PM
Today I made an attempt to get a working kit together with which to make this whole system workable on location. First, I found a portable folding camping table on which to place the processing box and other equipment. I thought a table would be more sturdy than a tripod. I also collected more lab ware from the kitchen section of K-Mart, including small 500ml sealable plastic bottles to store chemical; another liquid-tight container for rinse aid, and a large leak proof pitcher for water. I used my digital Radio Shack timer for timing the development process. The cardboard box I used for storing miscellaneous equipment; this will get replaced with a proper locking plastic bin.

I used a round, telescoping guitar stool for seating the subject, and also for sitting on while processing paper; it's just the right height for the folding table.

I squeegeed the prints, after soaking in water for a few minutes, on a plastic clipboard, and air dried by flapping the negatives in the breeze. They dried okay, just a bit of dust as one would expect. Not a big deal at the contact-print size of 4"x5", but they can be seen on the scans I've posted today (Don and John portraits, my two brothers.)

All in all the whole processing system seems to work well. But I didn't do printing on the spot, because I'm still working out a method of contact printing using the sun as the light source. It requires significant neutral density filtration to slow the exposure time down to something that can be timed by hand.

The quality of the four negatives I processed today was good, other than the first one, which was drastically under-developed, due to the chemistry being cold. I had taken the chemistry from already poured up in my holding trays in my garage-based darkroom, and had forgotten to let them sit in the sun prior to starting to process. By the second negative, the heat from my finger had warmed them up enough to start working properly. Just another thing to think about when setting up on location.

1st image is a side view of the table and setup.

~Joe Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_001a_4608.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_001a_4608.jpg)

02-11-2009, 07:16 PM
2nd image is the rear view of the setup. I'm thinking maybe of placing a background material on the side of the box opposite the arm sleeves, and seating the victim with their head adjacent to the background. The shots I took today were at F/8, shallow enough DOF to throw a distant background out of focus.

~Joe Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_002a_1753.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_002a_1753.jpg)

02-12-2009, 01:00 AM
Very nice setup. Thanks for showing the progress of your work and all the very interesting details.

02-17-2009, 11:11 AM
A "brief" update. I've been working this week on a method of making prints by contact printing. This may or may not end up being a superior method than optically re-shooting the paper negative using the bellows camera, since the advantage of the latter is you can do it while the negative is still a bit wet. With contact printing you need the negative completely dry, so it may take a few minutes longer, but hopefully the results will be sharper.

I intend on using the sun as the light source for contact printing; however, given the speed of photo paper, if sandwiched in a regular contact printing frame it would require fractions of a second exposure time. I'm not that quick with my hands.

I tried using several sheets of 1/8" thick white translucent Lucite acrylic to sandwich the paper, rather than clear glass; this cut down on the light intensity but it's still fractions of a second.

So then I hit on the idea of using my Polaroid Model 800 camera. I found a sheet of real thin clear glass (about 1/16" thick, the type found in el cheapo picture frames), and cut it down to fit the film gate of the Polaroid. The procedure is to open the Polaroid in the box, place the sheet of glass over the film gate, place the sandwich of paper on top of the glass, then close up the back; the pressure plate of the film back applies even pressure to the sandwich. To make the contact print exposure, I place a piece of the 1/8" white Lucite directly over the Polaroid's lens, and use the camera's shutter to make the appropriate exposure, while pointing the camera directly at the sun. The Lucite prevents an image from being cast onto the film plane of the camera, just an even white exposure.

I tried this method out late yesterday afternoon, but the sun was fading in the west, and it was filtered by thin cirrus clouds, so I underexposed it, but I could tell that it had adequate sharpness. With this method, if more exposure is need than the 1/10 second exposure time of the Polaroid's shutter, I can pop off multiple exposures, adding them up until I achieve the right amount.

The only concern I have with this method is if the camera's lens has light falloff in the edges and corners, this would cause the resulting contact print to fade out toward the edges, which typically doesn't look all that good in normal scenic photos, but may work okay for portraits. The Polaroid's lens appears to be a longer than normal angle of view, so this may not be a problem.

Also, while continuing to do internet searches on these types of cameras, I came across a photographer named Chris Wroblewski, who has documented them in a photo book. He's a fairly well known skin art documentarian. I'm unable to find his book, but have emailed him for more information. His book is called "Smudgers", which is apparently a slang term for a photographer, that originated on Fleet Street in London to refer to newspaper photographers. I like that term better than "Lambe Lambe." Anyway, here are some links to images on his website that I found interesting:


You'll notice in these photos that retouching brushes and some sorts of dyes or paints are seen in common use. From reading other internet stories, it appears that, among other uses, retouching of the face with red dye was commonly done to the negative in order to render a lighter tone on the print, due to the paper's ortho tonal range.

More later.


02-17-2009, 05:24 PM
Thank you, Joe, for keeping us up to date on this project. Your project is not my cup of tea, but my admiration for your efforts is unbound.

02-17-2009, 06:37 PM
A "brief" update.

Also, while continuing to do internet searches on these types of cameras, I came across a photographer named Chris Wroblewski, who has documented them in a photo book. He's a fairly well known skin art documentarian. I'm unable to find his book, but have emailed him for more information. His book is called "Smudgers", which is apparently a slang term for a photographer, that originated on Fleet Street in London to refer to newspaper photographers. I like that term better than "Lambe Lambe." Anyway, here are some links to images on his website that I found interesting:
More later.
This last one looks very like an ordinary oldtimer bellow camera just hidden in a "lambe lambe" (I prefer this word) :) :) :)

02-17-2009, 06:47 PM
I made some progress today on contact printing my paper negatives, using the Polaroid Model 800 camera. I cut a thin piece of picture frame glass (~1/16 inch thick) to fit the film gate of the Polaroid, permitting the back to close without breaking the glass (ask me how I know this!) The sandwich of paper negative and print paper are loaded into the Polaroid inside the portable Dark Box. Then a small piece of 1/8" thick white Lucite plastic is placed over the camera lens as it's pointed at the sun, to diffuse the light and prevent an image from forming on the print, just an even exposure of light, using the Polaroid's shutter to time the exposure.

Then I made some test exposures. First, I metered the light, pointing my meter (incident mode) at the sun, with a piece of 1/8" thick white Lucite over the dome. Today's light was EV10 (at EI=3 for paper negatives.)

First test that worked out was a contact print of my brother Don's portrait made last week. I set the shutter of the Polaroid to the "#10" setting, which is F8.8 @ 1/12s, and fired it 3 times. The first attached image is a scan of this print, made on Ilford MG RC WT pearl finish paper, trimmed with a decorative border. You'll notice the round corners of the Polaroid's film gate makes for a nice border, but it does crop down the full 4x5 negative somewhat.

Second image was a grab shot, taken in the backyard, using the 150mm binocular lens on the Speed Graphic, grade 2 paper negative processed in the Dark Box; exposure metered at 1/2 second (too fast for hand and too slow for the curtain shutter), so it ended up being a bit over exposed. This posted image is a scan of the resulting contact print, made in the Polaroid camera. Both paper negative and print were processed in the Dark Box. Print was again Ilford MG WT RC pearl finish.

The third image is a direct scan and invert of the paper negative; you can see the Polaroid does crop the image severely; I'll have to mark the ground glass of the Speed Graphic with lines to indicate the Polaroid's film gate.

~Joe Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/don005a_5433.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/don005a_5433.jpg) http://f295.f295.org/uploads/bike002a_1691.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/bike002a_1691.jpg) http://f295.f295.org/uploads/bike003a_5730.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/bike003a_5730.jpg)

02-17-2009, 06:52 PM
This last one looks very like an ordinary oldtimer bellow camera just hidden in a "lambe lambe" (I prefer this word) :) :) :)

I think you're right, Taco. Many of the pictures I found looked like they were using old folding bellows cameras, built into the box.

Here are more images of the Polaroid Model 800 converted to do in-camera contact prints. This image shows the camera opened up, with the piece of glass taped into the film gate using black gaffer's tape.


EDIT: The glass was cut using a hand-held, oil-filled glass cutting tool and breaking pliers, and the edges and corners ground down using my stained glass grinding rig. Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_016a_3612.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_016a_3612.jpg)

02-17-2009, 06:54 PM
Here's the sandwich of paper placed on top of the glass, prior to the camera back being closed up. There's a spring-loaded pressure plate in the right hand, inner film back that applies even pressure on the paper sandwich. The real challenge is keeping the camera level inside the Dark Box as you close the camera up, otherwise the paper sandwich has a tendency to slide around on the glass and becomes unregistered.

The plate of glass is a bit larger than the Polaroid's film gate, but obviously smaller than the 4x5 paper, however it does a good job of keeping the two pieces of paper tightly pressed together in the part of the image that ends up being printed.

~Joe Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_017a_9214.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_017a_9214.jpg)

02-17-2009, 06:57 PM
Here's an example of the Polaroid closed up and ready to make the contact exposure. You'll note the piece of white Lucite plastic placed over the lens. I hand hold the camera and point the lens directly at the sun.

~Joe Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_018a_9035.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_018a_9035.jpg)

Tom Persinger
02-18-2009, 08:48 AM
this just gets better and better!
i love the portrait joe, and the entire setup is really fantastic!

thanks for keeping us updated -- inspiring!

02-18-2009, 03:25 PM
Joe, great setup and great progress. Many thanks for sharing all the details.

Jim Jones
02-19-2009, 10:34 AM
". . .With contact printing you need the negative completely dry, . . ." Perhaps not. Jim Shull, in his The Hole Thing and his later The Beginner's Guide to Pinhole Photography suggests soaking a sheet of fresh photo paper with the paper negative in the wash, removing them, and squeegeeing them together emulsion to emulsion while still wet for the print exposure.

02-19-2009, 01:49 PM
Good point, Jim; I remember reading that in Shull's "The Hole Thing." I think the challenge for me would be properly soaking, squeegeeing and sandwiching both pieces of paper, blind, in the Dark Box, while not contaminating the paper with residual chemistry. And I've never tried this before in the "man size" darkroom, so I'm not sure that kind of water mark artifacts you'd get on the piece of overlay glass, if the paper's too wet. But it's worth a try.


Jim Jones
02-19-2009, 08:32 PM
If you work fast, surface tension may hold the negative and raw paper together without any glass long enough to print.

02-25-2009, 12:27 AM
Jim, that's a good idea; I may have to work on that.

Another brief session on Sunday morning. My Grandson stayed the night, so he was an obvious candidate for being another photo victim. Unfortunately, I didn't get fill lighting into his eyes, so they're completely dark.

And my printing technique, using the Polaroid camera as a mobile, solar-powered contact printer, works okay, but I haven't yet calibrated it for contrast filters. I used grade 2 RC paper for negatives, of course; but for prints I'm using multigrade pearl finish warmtone Ilford paper; I need to work out contact printing exposure times with various filters.

Anyhow, here's a scan of the resulting contact print, including border trimmed with craft scissors. It's nothing to write home about, but I do like the rounded corners of the Polaroid's film gate.

~Joe Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/noah003a_4666.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/noah003a_4666.jpg)

02-25-2009, 12:30 AM
And a shot of the set up in my front courtyard. I'm now using a plastic storage bin for the miscellaneous doodads. The folding camping table works great.

Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_092a_8133.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_092a_8133.jpg)

02-25-2009, 12:32 AM
On this run, I made sure I monitored the developer temperature prior to using. It was a bit cool, having sat in the garage darkroom overnight, so here I'm using the sun to warm up the chemistry. In this shot you can see the developer is yet only 60f on the thermometer dial. The white clipboard on the left, which I use to squeegee the paper onto, is also used as a reflector, to get the sun into both sides of the chemistry bottles. It only took about 15 minutes to get them up to 68f.

The two tubs seen here are great, having locking lids with o-rings seals. The one marked "rinse aid" is taller than it is wide, and a 4x5 negative will stand in it diagonally. Then I transfer it, after a few minutes, to the wash tub, within which I agitate the bejeezus out of the paper, since the lid seals tightly. A good way to save water on remote locations and still adequately rinse the prints.

~Joe Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_095a_9902.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_095a_9902.jpg)

Tom Persinger
02-25-2009, 10:24 AM
looks great Joe!
I love the folding camping table! I might have to get one of those for my collodion darkbox. looks really nice!


03-12-2009, 02:14 PM
Just a brief note; I was on a road trip to Arizona this last week, stopped off in Flagstaff and visited a photo gallery in the old historic district that had a working chemical photo booth. The service guy was there doing some maintenance on the machine, and I got a chance to glance inside, and ask some questions.

It uses photo paper that is directly processed to a positive image. Not sure if it uses a reversal process or if it's the special direct positive paper, but he did say the paper comes from Europe (I suppose all paper comes from Europe these days.)

Uses a carousel of little chemical pots that rotate, and a dip-and-dunk mechanism for the paper strip of 3 images. He said the paper gets dunked 3 times in each pot.

I suspect they're using direct positive paper, which I may attempt to make work in this project, using the Efke paper that I've worked with previously. If it works it would permit direct to positive images with no printing sequence, although I would not be able to retain control of a master negative for making prints later, hence each image would be one-of-a-kind.


03-17-2009, 06:02 PM
Yesterday I did some still life images in my front courtyard, using my standard grade 2 paper negatives but without preflashing. Due to the extreme brightness (a beautiful spring day) the images came out too contrasty, but I posted them anyway to the alternative B/W image forum here (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/Blah.pl?m-1237239443/).

Today (another beautiful spring day) I loaded the whole kit-and-kaboodle into the TDI Jetta and headed to a local park. I set up the table under the shade of a tree, and proceeded to take park images. These are also posted in the alternative B/W forum here (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/Blah.pl?m-1237325339/), here (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/Blah.pl?m-1237325423/), here (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/Blah.pl?m-1237325495/), here (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/Blah.pl?m-1237325652/) and here (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/Blah.pl?m-1237325704/). The last two are especially interesting as they are action sports shots, taken with paper negatives on a Speed Graphic using an improved lens.

It was fun to do this in public, yet removed enough from the bustle of a public sidewalk or other more crowded venue. I did have the opportunity to talk with passers-by in the park who were curious about that weird man with his arms in that funny wooden box. I left the Speed Graphic setup on the tripod with the shutter and lens wide open while processing paper, so folks who wandered by could look at the upside down view on the screen.

I took enough gear with which to also do printing, but I ended up only shooting 6 negatives, 5 of which I posted today.

I did some calibration tests of an in-camera preflashing method. I figured if I used an exposure that was 5 stops below zone V, it should be pretty close. I placed a piece of 1/8" thick frosted white lucite plastic over the Kodak Ektar 127mm lens, pointed at the sun, and exposed the negatives at F32-1/30th. Then the normal scenic exposure followed, after moving the tripod and camera and composing for the shot.

I must also mention that all the shutter times listed in my posts, when using the Speed Graphic, are what it's supposed to be, according to the shutter time chart posted on the brass plate on the top of the camera. But I know the shutter is slower than its posted speed, so there's a bit of over-exposure on these negatives, resulting in highlights that are a bit too close to be blown out for my taste. But the preflashing did help improve the tonal range immensely over the results I had yesterday.

Attached is a shot of the portable Dark Box setup under the shade of a tree. There's a pitcher of water in the background (behind the box) that is staying warm in the sun.

~Joe Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_007a_1050.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/2009_007a_1050.jpg)

04-11-2009, 06:47 PM
Impressive! Makes me want to make one.

05-15-2009, 04:39 PM
really nice, i got the same projet with gelatin coated glass plates but never got the time to realise the box (i even got a really small lens that can be used as a pinhole with exposures of 20 secods max)

03-01-2010, 07:27 AM
Joe, and what about a watertight camera (with some inlet and outlet tubes) used as a developing tank itself, immediately after the exposure...? You could have the chemicals in bottles which would make the camera easily transportable and there would be no need to operate manually inside the camera... At least the negatives could be developed almost on-site this way.

03-01-2010, 07:40 AM
Yea, I keep thinking about this concept. I'd like one of those light-tight pour spouts found on 35mm day tank developing bottles, where liquid goes in and out but not light.

And then there's the problem that one couldn't (or wouldn't want to) use sheet film holders with an in-camera developing system. So then you're back to a one-shot box camera, which you'd have to load and unload in a changing bag (or, for 8x10, a changing tent). Still, it has possibilities.

Just a brief update, I've used this processing box several times over the winter to process paper negatives in the comfort of the kitchen, rather than having to clean and warm up the garage-based darkroom.

I also bought a 3-drawer plastic storage cube big enough for processing 5x7 negatives, which I can also use in this same processing box to develop paper negatives from my 5x7 foam core sliding box fresnel lens camera.


07-28-2010, 08:57 PM
While wandering about the Internet I found this article (http://blog.baquephoto.com/?p=132&cpage=1#comment-33) on the "Cuban Polaroid."

There's also a Vimeo documentary I found last night on these street photographers, but the link's on my other computer, so I'll post later.

I really need to get moving on this project again. I was looking at Rockland Colloidal's website and found that they have what appears to be a positive (reversal) developer for doing tintypes; it may work with paper negatives. If so, I could avoid the printing stage and instead make these one-of-a-kind exposures.


07-29-2010, 04:13 AM
Joe: Many thanks for this link. A great overview about in-camera processing street cameras.

08-02-2010, 12:15 PM
The video I promised to link ("Fotografos", 2008 ) is here (http://vimeo.com/1771395).


03-06-2013, 09:12 AM

03-06-2013, 11:22 AM
What a brilliant idea guys. I am really encouraged by the thought and discussion that continues into the 21st C about developing ways to continue the work of pinhole imaging through innovations like those discussed here. As long as the ideas and practice keeps up, it is healthy for the continuation of analogue imaging amidst the ephemeral world of digital technologies.

01-28-2015, 07:00 PM
I've decided to update this old thread with more recent news on the subject.

For those of you new to the forums, this started back in 2009 as a project to make a portable darkroom box, for processing paper negatives out in the field. It evolved over time into something similar to what's now know by various names, such as Afghanistan Street Photography, the Cuban Polaroid, Camara Minutera in Argentina, Instant Box Camera, etc.

The idea with these is combining a paper negative portrait camera with simple B&W processing, all in one box. These box cameras are seen in various countries with a variety of designs.

Some of them use a bellows camera attached to one end of the box, with processing trays inside the box and a rear door used for focusing and also access to the interior via a light-proof arm sleeve. Many also have a red-filtered viewing port, to permit the photographer to watch the processing happen.

Other designs use the camera lens mounted directly to the front of the box without a bellows, with a movable GG view screen internal to the box that's operated by a guide rod. Some of these cameras have the arm sleeve mounted to the side of the box instead of the rear; this configuration is commonly seen in Afghanistan.

Many of these photographers use only two trays, developer and fixer, while others, with larger boxes, have room also for stop bath. There were also some commercially made "itinerant photographer" or "postcard photographer" cameras made about a century ago that incorporated in-camera processing; many of the ads from that era show thin metal chemical tanks extending below the floor of the camera, making for more room inside.

The way that positive prints are made is through re-photographing the developed but still wet paper negative, using a wooden copy stand bracket that folds up in front of the main camera lens. Operating in 1:1 mode, the GG view screen needs to be drawn back inside the box camera a distance of twice the lens' focal length. The size of the box obviously limits how big negatives and prints can be made.

I also experimented with using my Polaroid Model 800 camera, modified as a contact-printing accessory; this is documented earlier in this lengthy thread.

Since my last update to this thread, there's been the Afghan Street Photography website (http://www.afghanboxcamera.com/), which is well worth reading about, and also watching their various videos here (https://www.youtube.com/user/AfghanBoxCamera/videos).

Also, if you search in Google for "camara minutera (https://www.google.com/search?q=camara+minutera&espv=2&biw=1280&bih=899&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=jXLJVJXvOJbioATsn4GADQ&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ)," (the term used in Argentina and other Latin-American nations) you get a large set of images that provide a wealth of detail important to building such a device.

Since my interest in this project has recently been revived, I'm seriously thinking about building one of these all-in-one, "instant box cameras," instead of using a separate camera + tripod along with this processing box. I have three ideas. One is to take the current dark box, which is nearly too big and bulky, and add a built-in camera lens that would permit it to process images up to 5"x7" in size. I would also like to relocate the left-hand arm sleeve to the left side of the box, where the 3-tray processing box will be located, along with a red-filtered viewing window in the top lid above this area, to enable development-by-inspection; this is a feature many such photographers already use. The camera section would be located in the right side of the box, operated by the right arm.

Second, I could build a new box optimized for 4"x4" or 4"x6" sized images, much smaller in size than the current processing box and using my old Kodak Ektar 127mm lens, with an internal sliding focusing mechanism; and the third idea is to built a miniature version for medium format, 2"x2" small prints.

Here's an imag (https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CAcQjRw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fpasqualecaprile.blogspot.com%2F20 13%2F04%2Fes-una-larga-historia-mi-camara-minutera.html&ei=8nbJVJCZGc-yogTHgIGoDA&bvm=bv.84607526,d.cGU&psig=AFQjCNHwq72OJJpV7-cbrMT7Hst54HAjcQ&ust=1422574611342144)e of someone else's implementation of this idea, with some build photos here (http://www.lomography.com/magazine/news/2013/04/09/experiencia-con-mi-cmara-diana-minutera).

This last idea I might build first, using my Holga GFN, glass-lens plastic camera built into the front of the small processing box. I could mount the camera with the rear door permanently opened inside the larger box, then using an internal focusing mechanism to position the small GG and paper negatives as needed for proper focus. The small size of the negatives (2"x2") would enable three processing trays plus a film storage box all located inside of a very small enclosure. This project would serve as a test-bed for ironing out the bugs in such a design before embarking on a larger project, especially in terms of using such a device out in public.

I'll keep this thread updated with further progress.


Tom Persinger
01-28-2015, 07:27 PM
looking forward to seeing how this evolves for you Joe!

as an aside, I love seeing these old threads revived and given new life. I look forward to new members participating and reading them!


01-29-2015, 07:13 PM
All very neat. I remember your box version with the three little drawers for photo chemicals. Will be interested to see where this leads.

Slightly related, there are some old cameras that were also the containers for developing. Like this Dubroni camera (http://www.geh.org/fm/timeline-cameras/htmlsrc/md819300002_ful.html) with in-camera processing (http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Appareil_Dubroni). In the picture you can see the bulb pipette that was used for putting the developing chemicals in and taking them out again.

I was thinking of getting a tall stainless daylight developing tank and drilling a hole in the side for a pinhole. You could take the image and then cover the pinhole and develop... but changing paper or making a contact print inside it seems clumsy and messy and needs a changing bag.... the idea needs something more to make it worth the trouble.

02-03-2015, 05:46 PM
https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7430/16246250247_a9fc90bb37_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/qKChbT)DSCF3130a (https://flic.kr/p/qKChbT) by jvcabacus (https://www.flickr.com/people/31285363@N07/), on Flickr

So now I'm committed (or should be committed?) Started this project last weekend. An Afghanistan-style camera, 4"x4" format, will have side-mounted arm sleeve and internal focus mechanism (note the aluminum rods that the GG paper negative holder rides upon). I'll be using a 127mm Kodak Ektar lens and an improved binocular lens for portraits. The top panel will have a red-filtered viewing port to permit develop-by-inspection. I'll be using little square plastic containers for chemicals. Overall dimensions are 9.5"x9.5"x21".


02-21-2015, 11:28 PM
Here's an update on the project, which I've documented on my blog:



Tom Persinger
02-24-2015, 07:57 AM
Thanks for sharing the link to your blog Joe. I've long enjoyed your typecast missives over there. Looks like the camera is coming along well too. I'm anxious to see pictures of it & from it in the streets of ABQ! #Onward